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Plan a more relaxing trip than last time. Instead of scheduling your vacation to visit the sites everyone else has seen, head somewhere different and see things you didn’t expect. You just need to know where to find the right information.

This is a time of year when a lot of people travel to see friends and family, and it can be really stressful. You can make it better: my colleague Matt, for example, recently outlined secret flying tips that make traveling better Learn to Love Flying Again with These Secret Travel Tips Learn to Love Flying Again with These Secret Travel Tips Use technology to completely change your flying experience. Here are some not-so-secret flying and travel tips to make your in-flight experience more bearable. Read More . But if you’re like me, by the end of Christmas you’re ready to plan a different sort of trip entirely: one a lot more relaxing than the holidays.

Today Cool Websites and Apps shows you five sites for exploring the world in entirely new ways – hopefully ways you’ll find more interesting. Let’s get started.

Atlas Obscura: Find Something off the Beaten Path

Lots of people view traveling as a checklist. Going to Paris? View the Mona Lisa and the Eiffel Tower. New York? Check out the Statue of Liberty and Times Square. If these iconic travel stops don’t interest you, check out Atlas Obscura and find out about something a little different. This travel site is focused less on the big tourist draws and more on the weird sort of things locals might know about.

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I actually used it to discover an amazing thing in my newly adopted city of Portland, Oregon: a massive flock of migrating birds that sleep in the same chimney for a month every year. I bet you can find something amazing near where you live, or any place you’re about to visit.

We’ve pointed this site out years ago while talking about free travel guide websites The 10 Best Free International Travel Guide Websites The 10 Best Free International Travel Guide Websites Read More , but it’s come a long way since then – and has a totally different look. Give it a show.

Fareness: Find Discount Fares Quickly

If you’re heading out of town, you’re going to want to find the best deal possible. We’ve talked about plenty of ways to find cheap flights 5 Rules To Finding Cheap Airline Flight Tickets 5 Rules To Finding Cheap Airline Flight Tickets Who says you can’t fly for cheap? Sometimes it comes down to whether or not you click the right links, search the right terms, or pick the right times to search the web. Read More , but somehow we’ve never mentioned Fareness until now. Unlike other sites, which focus on finding you tickets for an exact date to an exact place, Fareness does everything it can to make you aware of when prices will be cheapest.

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This is a great way to find somewhere to visit on a whim – perfect if you want to get away and don’t quite care precisely where you end up. That’s what exploration is all about, after all.

Travelisty: Read Awesome Stories About Traveling

If you’re not already excited about hitting the open road and finding amazing new places, maybe Travelisty can change your mind. This site is basically Reddit, but for travel stories. You’ll find all kinds of great tales from people who are exploring the planet.

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Do some reading, get excited.

Travel By Drone: Stay Home and Explore from Above

Maybe you don’t have time for a vacation right now, but still want to see something new. Travel By Drone is a great site that shows you aerial footage from around the world, collected by enthusiastic drone owners. Just browse the map and you’ll find videos from all sorts of places, like this one I found in Malaysia:

If this sort of drone photography Latest Drone Photography You Have To See To Believe Latest Drone Photography You Have To See To Believe Drone photography is an exciting new technology that allows anyone to take awesome aerial videos. This article runs down some of the best on the internet. Read More doesn’t get you excited to explore more of the world, I’m not sure what will. Explore places you’ve always wanted to see to check them out from a unique perspective.

Traveler Stash: Directory of Travel-Related Sites and Apps

Didn’t find what you need in this list? Then let’s end this roundup of travel tools with a roundup of travel tools. Traveler Stash is a constantly updated directory of useful sites and services intended to always point you at the best tools for things like finding a flight, hotel, or car rental.

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Who say they are — “a group of travel hackers & entrepreneurs who have realized that the problem behind trip planning is no longer a lack of tools, but a problem of finding the right ones.” Check the site out and decide whether you agree with their choices.

What Are Your Favorite Travel Apps?

So, there are few sites we think could make planning your next trip a lot easier – and better. What other travel tips do you have? I’d like to discuss them in the comments below.

I’ll get things started: I like using CouchSurfing to find people to stay with 3 Ways To Take Advantage Of The Travel Network CouchSurfing 3 Ways To Take Advantage Of The Travel Network CouchSurfing CouchSurfing is an online network that connects travelers and locals. Originally based on the idea that travelers need a place to sleep and many people have a spare couch, CouchSurfing has long grown beyond just... Read More , because I always meet people from the place I’m visiting and learn a lot. I also like finding the right tools for road trips Road Trip USA: A Techie's Toolbox For A Great Drive Road Trip USA: A Techie's Toolbox For A Great Drive You're already using your Android for anything but phone calls? Smartphones also make for great travel companions! Before you start your road trip, be sure to stock up your digital toolbox with useful apps. Read More . Let’s hear what you have to say.

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