Traveling the world these days is an amazing experience. Not only is it simple to book flights and accommodation online, but you can check holiday destinationss in great detail before you even decide to book your tickets. It’s possible to see in advance what the ski slopes look like, where the best local nightclubs are, see the layout of local shopping centers and know exactly where the nearest usable ATM is.
To get all this information in advance is as easy as knowing where to look online. So, here’s a selection of great tools for you to try out. We’re sure your trip planning will be greatly improved from now on!
1. Preview Your Holiday Location
It’s easy to be a virtual tourist online as there are so many sites that will let you see photos or video of your favorite tourist destinations. One of the quickest ways to check exactly what anywhere in the world looks like is to look at Panoramio. It has a huge number of geo-tagged photos ready to be viewed for any location.
You may also want to check Google Maps and take a look in Street View to see what the area near your preferred hotel looks like. This is an easy way to check out local shops, facilities and more.
Google has also made it easy for you to check out the slopes by creating galleries of ski resorts for you to peruse. It’s just going that little bit further than Google Maps Street View.
2. Find Restaurants & Clubs
Finding restaurants and clubs near to where you are staying is simple with the help of directories with reviews of venues worldwide. Yelp is a great start as it has one of the largest directories to date and it is easy to search for things you like.
Other great tools to find restaurants and clubs are social network check-in tools like Foursquare, Facebook’s graph search, Localscope and Google Maps. Simply enter the name of the town and see what comes up!
3. Work Out Where To Shop
Yelp, Foursquare, Localscope, and Facebook Graph Search are all equally useful when trying to find shopping locations near to your hotel at your holiday destination. But there’s another useful tool recently available in Google Maps, which is that floor plans of major shopping centers are now available in many locations.
4. Research Tourist Spots & Events
Although you may have already found out about great tourist locations and events when you did a spot of armchair traveling, it’s worth checking into these things a little further with some dedicated tourist tools.
Google Earth makes it possible to view over 100,000 tours in popular tourist areas, so check if there is a tour nearby to your chosen destination. No doubt it will be worth visiting in person.
It’s also worth checking out the many travel guide websites, virtual tourism sites, sites with video of tours, and tools such as Google Maps mashups. There is a huge amount of information available to you.
One travel site that has been loved by many travelers worldwide is Lonely Planet. Don’t forget to research your destination on their site!
Facebook graph search and Foursquare Event Check-Ins make it easy to find upcoming events, but there are also some more dedicated event listing sites you can try. Try searching your destination in Eventful and WeGooo to see if there’s something exciting you can do while you’re in the area.
5. Know Where To Get Money
While it’s possible to exchange money at local Bureau de Changes worldwide, it’s also convenient to know where you might be able to quickly withdraw more cash in local currency when you need it. For that, check out Visa’s ATM Locator so that you’ll always know where the nearest Visa-friendly ATM is to your hotel.
6. Book A Great Place To Stay
So, now that you know all about your chosen holiday destination, you’re probably ready to book. There are many great hotel search engines, such as Google Hotel Finder, which will make it very easy to get the perfect hotel exactly where you want it. If your mind is on your budget, there are plenty of sites to help you book a backpacking trip anywhere in the world – or you could always check out CouchSurfing.
7. Keep Your Holiday Plans Organised
Planning your vacation is also easily managed with online tools such as TripIt and TravelMuse. Use these tools to keep all of your ideas and plans organized in a coherent manner so that you can act on them when the time comes. You wouldn’t want to forget about something great!
What are your favorite travel tools to check holiday destinations? Which sites do you go to to find out about an area before you arrive?