Plan Your Summer Vacay with These Smart Apps and Sites

With the summer vacation season at hand, many families are scratching their heads trying to decide their destination and plan their activities and budgets. Should this year’s summer getaway be at a beach resort with sun, sand, and surfing? Or a retreat to the cooler, crisper air of the mountains? This may be the year to soak in the culture and ambiance of historic cities or instead to explore scenic national parks and wilderness expanses. And what’s the best way to plan all the logistical and budgetary needs of such a trip?

Thankfully, with S&T’s broadband internet, along with practical online travel-related tools, the best advice for travel destinations and activities—and the best deals to be had on them—is at your fingertips! We’ve prepared a list of our favorite online resources, both apps and websites, to help you plan your trip this summer vacation. From deciding where to go to hunting the best prices for airfare or accommodations to discovering the best local dining spots, our recommended resources will help you make the most of your well-deserved time off this summer!

1. Lonely Planet—to Help You Determine Where to Go

We begin with Lonely Planet, the venerable travel guide series, which provides exceptional coverage of both basic nuts-and-bolts information for travelers and historical, cultural, and other essential background to understand the people and vibe of a country or city. We recommend Lonely Planet to assist your decision-making both at the front end of your trip (i.e., deciding where to go in the first place) and throughout your adventures when discovering off-the-beaten path side excursions and local haunts!

2. Skyscanner—to Find and Compare Flights and Airfares

We next turn to selecting flights. There are several websites and apps to compare airfares and book flights; a few are quite excellent. But we particularly like Skyscanner for its features and ease of use, including its “Explore Everywhere” feature, which conveniently lays out destinations and routes around America and the entire world. In this way, Skyscanner not only helps you find airfare deals and connections, but even opens your minds to travel spots you hadn’t yet dreamed of!

3. Booking.com—to Find and Book Hotel Rooms

Next, we recommend Booking.com to find hotels and compare lodging prices in your chosen destinations. While Booking.com can also help you book flights and other travel needs, its hotel search features stand out, and put it above many similar sites. We’re particularly impressed by its powerful search engine, which scopes out more hotel rooms at more price points (especially midrange prices) than most other online travel agency and aggregator sites do.

4. Airbnb and Vrbo—to Search Alternative Accommodations and Home/Apartment Stays

Of course, if you’re looking to avoid hotels or just want to stay in private homes or apartments, Airbnb and Vrbo are excellent resources. They can also get you closer to where locals actually live, instead of staying in a large tower of tourists like many hotels (not that there’s anything wrong with pampering yourself in a nice hotel on your summer vacay!). Both apps also feature unique, and even unusual (and memory-making) accommodations, too, such as treehouses and Hobbit holes!

5. TripAdvisor and Yelp—to Discover the Best Local Eateries

It’s impossible to exclude TripAdvisor and Yelp from our list, as they are iconic, even encyclopedic founts of recommendations about dining by both tourists and locals. Seeing the differences between the way locals review an eatery and the way tourists review that same spot can be quite insightful. So, be sure to note who is reviewing and see if you notice any patterns when assessing where to dine out on your vacation. Both TripAdvisor and Yelp are available as apps, both of which have added features that browser-based websites do not.

6. Wanderlog—to Plan Your Dream Itinerary

Finally, once you’ve determined your destination and booked your flights, accommodations and some dinner reservations, put all your hard work into one convenient, accessible place on Wanderlog, a respected trip-planning app. Indeed, itinerary lovers will adore this app, as it helps you organize your vacation and its details to your heart’s content! You’ll easily plan your routes, including stops for gasoline and food, and incorporate any flight or hotel reservations in one single, customizable space. Wanderlog is available both as a website on a browser or as an app for iPhones and Android-based devices.

Once you’re armed with our handy list of apps and websites, you’ll be well on your way to concocting the best summer vacation you’ve ever had—and far more efficiently, too! Keep connected to S&T’s social pages to learn more ways to make the most of our advanced online network!

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