Remember back in January when you promised yourself to travel more this year? Well, it’s officially summer, and there’s no better time to head to the beach or take a family road trip. And while you may not have the ideal vacation length (eight days!) lined up, any amount of time you have to explore a new place is worth a bit of front-end research, so you can rest assured that you’ve found the best-priced flight to your destination and the trendiest local coffee shop when you arrive. We’re sharing 10 of our favorite travel sites to help get you there.
1. Hipmunk: Sure, Hipmunk has search features for cheap flights and hotels, but the real reason we love it so much is for the in-depth, hotel-focused city guides. If you’re looking to go to Chicago, for instance, Hipmunk breaks down your options by type (luxury, hostel, Airbnb), neighborhood (Hyde Park, Lincoln Park) and ease of transportation (parking, bus, el train) so you can make informed decisions based on your personal preferences.
2. Eat This Poem: If your “to visit” list is as long as your “to read” list, might we suggest stopping by Eat This Poem’s Literary City Guide to get the scoop on America’s cities that are packed full of awesome eats and bustling bookstores? Each city page has its own tour guide who will give you the scoop on where to shop for cookbooks and where to eat the best tacos. #heaven
3. Cereal: Come for the devastatingly gorgeous photography; stay for the thoughtfully curated travel suggestions. So far, Cereal only has nine online city guides, but you can buy the paper version of many more cities on their website. Each recommendation feels personal, like your well-traveled best friend is giving you her years’ worth of insider knowledge in one minimalist swoop.
4. Kayak: It may not be glamorous, but Kayak is the OG of cheap flight fares and an absolute must when you’re factoring flying into your vacation. It pulls prices from all the major discounted flight websites, drastically cutting your search time and ensuring that you’re getting the best deal out there.
5. HomeAway: Just like its major competitor, HomeAway offers travelers private homes to stay in that the owners have listed on the site. We particularly like HomeAway because, in addition to all the awesome property listings, they also offer well-edited city guides for the world’s major metropolises, making it a one-stop shop for your next urban adventure.
6. Spotted by Locals: With local “spotters” in over 66 countries giving the scoop on their favorite activities, restaurants, coffee shops, spas, theaters and shops, Spotted by Locals is the guidebook answer for the guidebook-adverse. You can search spots by activity to find locals-approved things to do, or you can search by spotter if you find yourself digging a particular local’s taste.
7. Jetsetter: If you’re looking to add a major dose of luxury to your travel plans, hit up Jetsetter before you head out. This flash sale site has incredible deals on uber-cool hotels and resorts in some of the world’s most exotic, hip and of-the-moment locales. Descriptors like “posh,” “brilliant” and “royal” allow you to narrow down the myriad options based on your personal vibe and the “what we love” and “what to know” sections of each hotel listing give you a glimpse into the real life pros and cons of each place.
8. Secret Escapes: Secret Escapes is like Groupon, but for seriously swank vacation deals — we’re talking $70 rooms at boutique hotels in Miami kinda deals. You can book city hotel rooms, spa retreats and all-inclusive beach vacations at up to 70 percent off, which means if you’re flexible with your dates and vacation spot, you can score a significantly sweeter spot than you were probably expecting.
9. 12hrs: For those travelers looking to take a quick trip, let 12hrs plan your 12-hour itinerary. Their guides have a distinct design bent, so if you’re into art, fashion and mid-century modern furniture, be sure to check them out. Even if you’re planning on staying at your destination for longer than a day, 12hrs gives you an awesomely aesthetic jumping off point.
10. Yapta: Once you’ve decided where you want to go and how you want to get there, be sure to start tracking your trip on Yapta. If the price drops for either your preferred hotel or flight, the website will notify you. If you’ve already bought a ticket but have registered the trip on Yapta, you’ll get a refund for the difference when the price drops!
Do you have a favorite travel website? Tweet us @BritandCo and dish for us!
(Photo via Getty)