September 2011


I’ve been doing a lot of trip planning lately and thought it might be useful for others to list what sites I like to use.

1) Kayak When I need to research airfare, this is the first place I go. I like the user-friendly interface that makes it easy to filter options by price, schedule, airline, etc. I also like the search calendar that allows me to see airfare for up to a month at a time. It’s handy when I’m looking at quick weekend getaways and seeing if one weekend is cheaper then another.

Kayak does have its limits. It’s not possible to¬† book flights directly from it, although I prefer to book directly with the airlines anyway. Kayak does have a price alert feature but unlike other sites like Travelocity, it can’t be set to alert you if the price falls below a certain price.

2) TripIt This a fairly new tool in my kit, but the site has been around for a while. TripIt makes it easy to keep travel plans in one and share it with others. All I have to do is forward flight and hotel confirmations to TripIt and it instantly updates trip plans.

It’s a very good collaboration tool. When I went to South America earlier this year, my friend and I used TripIt to update each other on flight and hotel reservations. Since the trip involved three countries, half a dozen flights and many hotels, it was a great way to keep all the details in one spot and get a good snapshot of the overall trip. Since many of the friends I travel with don’t live near me, the site’s ease of sharing makes it much easier to plan a trip together with them.

It’s also been a good way to know when friends might be in the same city as me at the same time.

3) FlightMemory This isn’t a planning tool, but it’s a fun way to keep track of past travel. Just plug in some previous flight info and it generates a nice map of all the flights along with some fun stats. I find it useful for tracking patterns like which airlines or routes I fly the most. And I love the maps it draws up (I’m a sucker for good maps).

Flightmemory map of my US flights.

4) AwardWallet This site is designed to make it easy to track points and miles across a number of frequent flyer/traveler programs. It’s very handy being able to track the balances of multiple programs at once without having to go to several websites.

AwardWallet also has a premium version of the site called AwardWallet Plus that will provide more info such as when miles will expire. The interesting part is that there’s no set price for Plus- you pay whatever you think the service is worth.

5) Flyertalk and Milepoint These two sites are the travel sites that I spend the most time on. They’re both internet forums that center around travel. Many of the trips I’ve taken in the last couple of years happened because of information that I found on these forums. For example, the South America trip happened because several threads on Flyertalk explained how to get a lot of British Airways miles for cheap and how to use them to visit several countries around the continent. I check and post on both forums as LizzyDragon84.

All of these sites have mobile apps except for Flightmemory. If there are other useful planning sites out there, feel free to mention them in the comments.

The 10th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks is this weekend. To honor those who lost their lives and for all the first responders who ran in to help, I’m sharing a photo from my first trip to New York in 2009. I never had the opportunity to visit the World Trade Center before the attacks occurred. But standing next to the WTC site gave me a sense of absence. Several times during my trip people would point to the gap in the skyline where the towers were. I felt the absence of the towers and of the loved ones who perished. It was a sorrowful moment, but a hopeful one as well. Construction cranes were busy repairing not only the damage to nearby building, but the damage done to good people everywhere. While nothing can be done to bring the dead back, it is good that the people of New York and the world can keep moving forward while keeping the memories of the absent alive in their hearts.

Ground Zero

Ground Zero. The World Trade Center towers stood in front of these towers.

Sometimes, in order to see something above me, I need to look down instead. This is the Bok Tower in Lake Wales, FL reflecting off the water around it.

Reflection of Bok Tower.

Reflection of Bok Tower.