Now, even though I’ve just formed a new business that offers bespoke trip consulting, and I firmly believe we are approaching an advent of the Travel Agent in Luxury Travel, I do still favor the web for individual preliminary research. With so much rich content available (though beware, much of it is paid for and biased or worse, totally unsubstantiated), one can’t help but be drawn to perusing the scores of alluring pictures and myriad of opinions online. So, in an effort to share with you the sites that I find myself lingering on or checking out for competition sake, here goes my counter-profiteering post. That, and I know there are a few of you who are always game for a few stolen moments of travel-fantasy diversion during your daily slog at the office.
1. WANDERFLY – A brand new site (still in Beta) that allows you to choose parameters and categories for your next vacation and then within a few seconds, delivers the user one or more suggested results. Whoever put together this algorithm sure knows his computer skills (prompting me to ask myself, yet again, why I didn’t major in Computer Science). Not only is this site a very clever and useful idea for constrained travelers (it has you pick dates, budget and type of trip plus departure city) it’s an amusing, roll-the-dice kind of pastime for the infinite travel planner. I highly recommend it!
2. HIPMUNK – Finally, a challenger to Kayak that I really like. First, its totally geared towards the visual learner. Rather than displaying its results in a linear, text-heavy fashion, Hipmunk charts the offerings in a horizontal graph with bright colors to differentiate airlines. Plus its sort options are cheeky, particularly the AGONY filter which, lists flights in order of a combination of price, duration and a number of stops. Again, EUREKA, a program that understands that the best option for air travel should be made according to comfort. Even better, it’s Free! Check it out.
3. IN FLIGHT INSIDER – An incredibly informative travel blog (she features the penis enlargement exercises above two sites as well and may or may not have been the entire inspiration behind this post) written by a former flight attendant. She features everything from travel products (including Luxe items like the White+Warren Cashmere wrap that is, indeed, a traveling necessity for the cashmere-addicted).
She also hits on hot topics like the government’s Global Entry Program,which has you cut the line at customs (a partner with the Dutch Privium) once you’ve been approved and completed the application process. It’s a must for frequent international business travelers who are forever in a rush and often not declaring anything.
Another worthwhile post (and partnership of In Flight) is with MedJetAssist, the top-quality medical-travel insurance program that flies you to the airport of your choice provided you’re 150 miles from home.
And last, the European Union Travel law that guaranteed passengers up to $750 in expenses when there flight is cancelled and makes yet another argument for flying European airlines when you next hop to pond.
4. TrufflePig’s The Sounder – I confess, I have a bit of a writer’s crush on these guys. First off, I think their name is genius and the whole play on having a “big nose for sniffing out the dirt” is rather amusing. Go figure, they’re Canadian. They’re actually a travel services group offering trip planning but it’s their blog, the Sounder, that I find to be a great source of intimate, smart advice.
I also love the way they’ve set up the site that you pick an area of the map and then can read the posts that way rather than by topic. I find that people are growing more savvy and specific in their travel choices and no longer want simply something ‘romantic’ but are looking to finally visit Greece or check out the salt flats in Bolivia. Check out their latest post on the norther beaches of Brazil. It certainly made my mouth water.
I promise to keep updating this list as I surf away…I hope you’ll share with me some of your favorites as well.