As you probably know, the Internet is a highly valuable research tool. However, many travelers do not consider using the Internet to book their next vacation, and thus often miss out on timesavings not to mention truly great bargains.
In this article we’ll take a look at how the Internet can help you to plan and book the perfect vacation.
If you haven’t already figured out exactly where you want to go, you might want to visit Yahoo! Travel. This excellent resource provides information about popular destinations based on category, for example ‘Best Beaches’, ‘Top Romantic Getaways’ or ‘Top Singles Destinations’. Yahoo! Travel also features a list of the most popular vacation destinations along with things to do and see for each one.
If you are looking for a vacation tailored around your own personal interests, you should spend some time consulting the Yahoo! Travel Interest Guides. The top destinations are selected for each interest, so choosing a vacation that is perfectly suited to your interests should be a fast and simple task.
Once you have selected a destination then it’s time to start planning how to get there!
Locate and book the best value travel
Whether you decide to go by plane, train or automobile, finding cost effective travel is the first step to planning a great trip. Many Internet resources allow you to search multiple travel providers and directly compare services and prices.
Traveling by car
If you plan to travel by car, then the first step should be a visit to Map Quest for directions. This valuable website will allow to you obtain detailed driving directions to your destination, including total distance and estimated driving time.
If you intend to rent a car make sure you compare prices at different auto rental sites. For example, Car Rental Express provides an excellent resource that compares rental prices from multiple major auto rental companies. Many sites will allow you to directly compare rental prices from most of the leading auto rental companies. Make sure that you spend some time examining the different company regulations governing auto rental that often differ from state to state (minimum driver age, area restrictions, etc…).
When possible, taking your own car can save you a fair amount of money. However, it’s extremely important to ensure your vehicle is ready for a long distance trip. Having your car break down during your trip is not fun, especially if you are looking to experience the perfect vacation!
Traveling by plane
Traveling by car is great for shorter distances; however traveling by plane will allow you to reach your destination much faster. Nowadays, there is so much online competition for short, inland flights that you can most often find some outstanding prices, especially if you book a little in advance. In addition, most of the major airlines offer special ‘Internet Only’ deals and rates.
If your travel arrangements are flexible, then Priceline.com offers some extraordinary bargains. Basically, you simply specify the maximum amount you are willing to pay for a particular flight, and if the amount is accepted by the airline your flight is immediately booked. This is a great system that can provide you with huge savings…that would be totally impossible if it wasn’t for the Internet!
Traveling by train
Although often overlooked, traveling by train can be a highly cost effective and convenient method of travel. You can quickly and easily research the various choices to your chosen destination by going to Amtrak. Check out the ‘Hot Deals’ section on the Amtrak website for some great Internet offers.
Or for a one of a kind travel experience, you may want to consider taking a scenic route on a luxury train. Many luxury train travel packages offer meals and accommodation on the way to your final destination. Check out the links below to find out more information about luxury train travel.
Going on a cruise
Cruise trips can offer an exciting alternative to conventional vacations. After unpacking your belongings, you can relax while the ship takes you from destination to destination. There is typically a wide variety of nightlife; entertainment and activities to keep you busy and most major cruise ships offer a broad range of cuisine to appeal to most culinary preferences. Cruises typically offer low amounts of hassle – simply book your ticket, board the boat and get ready to relax.
Additionally, many cruises are all inclusive – the price of your ticket includes meals and activities.
If you are interested in going on a cruise start at VacationsToGo.com. This is a useful resource for locating last minute and bargain cruises. For many people, a cruise can be the perfect vacation!
Find the perfect accommodation
Locating the ideal vacation accommodation is perhaps the most important part of planning the perfect vacation. Multiple options will most likely be available depending on where you plan to visit.
If you were planning to visit within striking distance of a town or city and for a short period of time, then a hotel or condo would be the most appropriate choice.
Otherwise a rental home, villa or townhouse can offer a high level of comfort and convenience. The great advantage of this type of accommodation is the kitchen/laundry facilities that can help save money, especially if you are vacationing for a week or more.
If you want great value without having to make your own reservations and travel arrangements then a complete vacation package can offer great savings and convenience. A package typically includes flights, hotel rooms, rental cars and can also include meals and tickets for popular activities.
Although often overlooked, home exchanges can offer a great value for money vacation, with the added bonus of having someone looking after your home while you are away! Often cars are also exchanged as part of the process.
Before finalizing your reservation, it’s a good idea to check out reader reviews of your chosen accommodation at http://www.tripadvisor.com. This is a highly valuable resource in determining suitability and comfort and allows you to help avoid any hidden problems.
When you are ready to choose, browse through some of the accommodation links below and compare prices. If you are planning to stay in a hotel, make sure that you check the website to ensure that they have all the amenities you require (fitness center, internet access, restaurant, etc…). Lastly, don’t forget to book early as hotels/homes often become booked rapidly.
Find out what to do and where to go…before you get there!
Hopefully by now you have planned your travel arrangements and booked a great place to stay, however there is still one important factor to consider…
Finding out as much as you as possible about your chosen destination before you get there will help ensure that you are able to have fun upon arrival. By pre-selecting some activities to do or places to visit, you’ll be able to save time and enjoy your vacation immediately, even if you are among those travelers who prefer to just relax and explore your destination once you get there.
A great starting point for learning more about your destination is http://www.citytown.info. This database consists of links to the official websites of most major towns in the United States. Most of the official town websites contain sections for tourists, including things to see and do, places to visit, where to eat, etc…
The SLGN Directory (www.statelocalgov.net) is the easiest method for locating official tourist information corresponding to your chosen destination. Simply select the appropriate state to gain access to a list of official town/city guides and state directories.
You should also explore the World Travel Guide website at http://www.wtgonline.com, which provides a plethora of data for thousands of worldwide destinations. Attractions, airports, tours, images and brochures are covered along with many other useful travel resources. The World Travel Guide is an excellent tool for helping to plan the perfect vacation.
Although less tourist-oriented, http://www.city-data.com still remains a valuable resource for researching information about your chosen town or city.
As previously mentioned, http://www.tripadvisor.com is also a highly useful resource for learning about a destination through submitted user reviews, articles and comments. Spend some time browsing the site and you will be able to find out exactly what other people who visited the area enjoyed.
An excellent resource for obtaining a categorized list of activities around your chosen destination is http://www.infohub.com. InfoHub contains an immense list of specialist activities, from football tours to museum visits and is very useful for planning the perfect vacation based on around you or your family’s interests.
If you are willing to spend a little extra then a professional tourist guide can be extremely helpful in making sure you get the most out of your vacation. A good guide will help tailor the trip based on your personal interests while allowing you to connect with the locals. For personal safety reasons; a tourist guide is highly recommended if you are traveling to exotic destinations. You can obtain information on how to hire a tourist guide by navigating to http://www.wwguides.com.