Call me crazy, but I think part of the fun of traveling is planning the trip beforehand. For me, researching locations and what to do in an area builds the anticipation and gets me so excited for my adventures. And I think knowing what your options are helps you see more of what you’ll enjoy on your trip. You also never know when you’ll discover a hidden gem or an amazing off-the-beaten-path location with a little research. Here are a few of my favorite trip planning tools and apps!
Girls Love Travel
This group of women with wanderlust is an incredible resource for locals’ tips, ideas for all travel styles, and just general travel inspiration. Over 600,000 ladies from all over the globe connect through the common interest of experiencing and seeing the world in the GLT Facebook group. It’s a diverse group ranging from those who have never traveled and to those who have been on hundreds trips; who travel solo, with their partner, with friends, or with their families. So imagine the kind of resource Girls Love Travel is! If you want more general information, like what to do in London or should you rent a car in Hawai’i, you can usually scroll through the answers to previous questions. If it’s more specific or specialized, you’re welcome to ask yourself!
Generally you’ll find the well known and potentially touristy recommendations on TripAdvisor, but I still like to browse the “things to do” or “restaurants” list for the area I’m interested in. Reviews for listings are usually pretty diverse and honest, so it helps me decide if something is worth the money or time. And occasionally I’ll find a hidden gem I didn’t know about, especially in small towns!
Pinterest is huge for me when it comes to trip planning! With the rise of travel bloggers, there are a million articles out there about hiking, food, how to pack, what to see, and so much more. Pinterest is an amazing way not only to search for these informative blog posts, but also to save and organize them onto your customized travel “boards”. You can also look through other people’s boards and have pinned articles suggested to you based on your searches. And your pins don’t have to be just blogged travel tips – you can pin pretty much anything on the internet including maps, products, transportation time tables, etc.
If you want to check out some useful information and inspiration for awesome adventure wedding and travel locations, check out my Pinterest boards and follow me!
Sometimes I’m just gleaning one location or thing to do out of an article, but other times I find a wealth of detailed information. And when you find a blogger whose writing you love, you can usually find more articles on your destination with ideas you hadn’t even thought to look for. Be prepared to spend a lot of time jumping from one great article to the next!
I honestly wasn’t one for guidebooks until we started planning our trip to the United Kingdom, but now I’m finding them very useful! For popular destinations there are a million different books out there to choose from, so you’ll want to figure out which series align well with your travel and planning style. You’ll typically find information on the main sights, some hidden gems, restaurants, places to stay within a variety of budgets, how to get around, and tips on language, customs, and currency if you’re traveling abroad. I’ve found Rick Steves’ pocket guides to be helpful, and I enjoy his TV show (on Amazon Prime) and podcast. For Amazon Prime members, you can also get free travel ebooks from Lonely Planet and several other brands on a variety of locations. And for those of you who like to get out of the cities and explore adventurously, I highly recommend Rough Guides! I bought their Scottish Highlands + Islands book on Amazon for $15 and have been amazed at all the detailed information I’ve learned in just the first few pages. If you’re on a budget, check your local library for physical and ebook copies of various guidebooks. While I love to flip through actual book pages for my research, it’s so convenient to have an ebook on my phone for quick reference!
Speaking of exploring adventurously, if you’re a hiker like me, definitely check out AllTrails.com and other online trail sites for information on local hikes. You can usually find information on the times of year the trail is available, how to get there, how strenuous and long it is, and see photos from other hikers. Hiking is one of my favorite things to do while traveling to really get a feel for the location, and this is a great resource for finding amazing trails. You can also download the app to easily access trail information while you’re traveling!
Geotags and hashtags on Instagram can help you find awesome places to visit and connect with other travelers. At the very least, it can point you in the right direction and give you some ideas to look further into. And it never hurts to comment or DM a question the person posting – you never know what great information you’ll get!
So whether you’re planning a destination adventure wedding or a vacation to a new location, I hope you’ve found these ideas for the best trip planning tools to be useful. With these travel researching and planning resources and apps, you should be able to craft your experience to be full of all the things you enjoy. Happy trip planning, and bon voyage!
Hey, friend! I’m Julie – an adventure wedding & elopement photographer who loves the outdoors and traveling! My photography is fun and heartfelt while highlighting the beauty of love and nature. I’m based in Albuquerque, New Mexico, but wedding photography takes me throughout the southwest, to national parks, and all over the world! To find out more about destination wedding photography, check out my travel page. And if you want to get some great elopement planning tips, check out the planning and advice section of the blog.