A few travel sites which we find interesting and usually useful.
First, I should acknowledge that travel sites on the web likely outnumber all the spectacular mountains and pristine streams of the Alps and Rockies combined. If you are interested in cruising the islands of Indonesia, riding the scenic trains of Sardinia or trekking through the hamlets of Central Switzerland, the chances are excellent that you can find helpful sites that address your specific objectives. Since there is little to be gained by trying to review the plethora of sites out there, this blog reviews sites we find helpful for their specific characteristics and abilities. A couple of these are well-known while the others may not be on most folks’ radar.
Travelzoo (www.travelzoo.com) This site reviews travel deals from over 1000 companies weekly and posts reviews on the best offerings. You can then use the direct links to the source sites to get additional information on things that interest you. Also, you can search Travelzoo for deals in specific categories (ex. cruises, hotels, shows) or geographic areas. We receive a weekly email from Travelzoo called the VIP Top 20 Deals which covers not only North America but is also international in scope and routinely includes things that we have never thought of such as hotel & air packages to Iceland or the Azores. Unlike some other travel sites that may offer such things, Travelzoo is free and offers an amazing diversity of deals that would otherwise be difficult to easily find.
Untours (www.untours.com) For the last 40 years Untours has been providing apartment-based housing for independent travelers. If you are interested in spending time immersed in a culture this is a wonderful approach as you stay one or two weeks in an apartment (most often part of or attached to the host’s house) that is in a desirable location. You are 100% free to spend your time there travelling to historic/cultural sites, hiking through amazing landscapes or doing whatever else you wish. Depending upon the specific site, the facility can house between 1 and 4, there is a suitable kitchen and usually you are close to shopping. In addition to helping with transit to and from the airport and apartment, Untours has local resource staff who provide orientation sessions for travelers shortly after arrival. Ground transportation is usually included as either a rental car or a rail pass (which often covers bus and boats transit also). Untours has many opportunities throughout Europe (and one each in Quebec and Argentina). Their website has a section for traveler comments about Untour vacations which is a good source of additional information about many of their sites. Also, they are very helpful in arranging air travel if desired. Rates vary based upon time of year, number in the party and location of the rental but are routinely excellent values. We have had the pleasure of using Untours twice on trips to Switzerland and would gladly use them again. They will send you a nice brochure if you’d like.
Tripadvisor (www.tripadvisor.com) With millions of users and reviews, Tripadvisor may be the largest travel site on the web. You can access tons of information on things such as hotels, restaurants, flights, and locations. For instance, recently they posted an article on the 20 best hotels in the US and we were pleasantly surprised to find an interesting one on the route for our next planned road trip. All of this is in addition to travel forums and reviews by fellow travelers. Since there is so much information, we try to focus on the reviews when we are considering vacationing in a specific locale or facility. This is of significant value in helping us decide if we have chosen wisely or if things should be reconsidered. If for no other reason, the user-generated content alone on Tripadvisor makes it a go-to travel site.
International Travel News (www.intltravelnews.com) As the title implies, this website/publication focuses on matters of interest to travel outside of the United States. Articles include things such as driving through Southern France and notable cemeteries in parts of Europe with wonderful accompanying pictures. In every issue there are sections on news that could impact travel to some areas, posting of readers’ comments and recommendations, information of selected unusual and/or hard-to-find tours and trivia contest. Of particular interest to us in a recent issue was an article on UNESCO World Heritage Sites in Italy. Considering the diversity of information, timeliness and the detail provided, it is difficult to imagine any single site being of more value to the serious international traveler. The printed subscription fee is $24 yearly (12 issues) with online edition being $23. On their website, you can request a complimentary copy.
There are literally thousands of websites that can help us travel. Which ones have you used? Have you had good experiences? Bad? Let us know and reply below.
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House Spouse Jerry
In addition to some of those Jerry mentioned above, I have a few other go-to online resources. Some of my favorites are:
(1) Airfare Watchdog. Not only can you set up alerts to notify you when air fares go down on your desired routes, but they have a fabulous travel blog at http://www.airfarewatchdog.com/blog/. I am set up to receive weekly summaries and I always find something relevant and of interest, even when I am not actively planning or dreaming about my next trip (which is like never because I sure didn’t retire to sit home and watch my rear get bigger)
(2) I just discovered Wendy Perrin whi used to write for Conde’ Nast Traveler and now has her own Blog and a group of WOW travel planners (not travel agents). I find her blog interesting and full of lots of insider information. I am thinking of using one of her planners for one of those once-in-a-lifetime trip s in 2018 if I can narrow down the destinations. http://www.wendyperrin.com/
(3) Our 2016 trip will be a couple of weeks in Switzerland. Chocolate, cheese and over-the-top scenery – can’t wait. For this trip we chose a small group tour with Rick Steves. It will be our third (Scandinavia, Ireland). I find the planning and information on his website to be very useful. You can find videos, podcasts, and real traveler reviews and opinions here: https://www.ricksteves.com/watch-read-listen and here: https://www.ricksteves.com/travel-forum
There are others, but these are the top three I am using right now.
House Spouse Patti (the retired one)
Yo Tundra Queen – Thanks for sharing. These are great site — I am still holding out to visit the International Space Station!