We used to be a “travel agency dependents” where we just inquire, check the itinerary, the total price, ask for some discount, pay and we’re good to go.  We don’t even check the things to do, photographic spots, accommodation reviews or suggested restaurants. Weather is the only thing we searched before.

Those were the “relax days” where we used to go with the ready-made itinerary provided, be surprised with the accommodation and get lost in our free days 🙂 I’m not complaining though as it was the easiest way to plan a trip but most of the time – expensive! (Except our India trip which we find cheaper/safer to book a travel agency).

Read More: Our Greece Trip Arranged by a Travel Agency

So when we became more serious about life (WOW!), setting of priorities and saving up for our future family, we discarded the thought of having a travel agent instead we find ways – functional apps and helpful websites to help us plan a trip. Here are the apps and websites that we actually used in planning our trip.

1. Google Trips

The ever reliable Google Map has been everyone’s travel buddy for a long time. My husband is a number one devotee. So when the Google Trips was released last September 2016, modern travelers certainly rejoiced. The personalized travel planner has complete guides for 200+ major cities and each has six main features: Reservations, Things to Do, Saved Places, Day Plans, Food & Drink and Getting Around.

Google trips Barcelona

What We Love:

  • Interface is always easy on the eyes with Google. No ads, fast, simple and user friendly.
  • Google maps are available offline. Download the whole city map before the WIFI’s gone.
  • Any bookings done via your Gmail account is neatly curated and saved in one place. You need a Gmail account in order to create a trip.
  • The “Things To Do” feature would be my favorite as it allows me to build my own itinerary and when I’m clueless, I can select a general itinerary like “72 hours in Paris” or check the other suggested restaurants, tours, places. Best thing? I can edit the guide and include other destinations we’d like to visit.

Read More: Planning a 5-Day Trip to Dubai using Google Trips (to follow!)

What to Improve:

When I first used my Gmail account it automatically synced all my previous bookings or trips. This means that the app was so smart to pull out all those information but really it’s kind of creepy at first. If you’d rather not have the memory lane, you can delete previous information easily. Also, the walking directions and public transportations are inaccessible when offline. So we just save it manually as we don’t like to spend in internet data plan – print screen and save it as images. The app is also not available in desktop.

Website: www.get.google.com/trips

Available for Free in App Store and Google Play

2. Google Maps

Being the plain and direct way of noting down the places you want to visit is using Google Maps. It’s the digital version of the paper map we used to draw directions and notes with. You’d probably know the basics of it but I bet you’ll still be surprise with the other features.

Dubai Google Map

What We Love:

  • Simple and direct without any complexity
  • Public and private sharing
  • Places, hotel details, reviews, booking price (when online) are available
  • You may print the map
  • Google street view (my husband’s favorite feature!)

What to Improve:

As usual the walking directions and public transportation options are only available when connected to the internet.

Website: www.google.com/maps

3. Sygic Travel

Sygic is known for its accurate GPS functionality. So I’m surprised to see this app perfectly works as a travel guide too. Planning our next trip is way easier using Sygic as it allows us to create a well-organized itinerary by grouping attractions together per day based on location.  It comes with complete information about places, weather forecast, travel time estimates and more.

sygic travel dubai

What We Love:

  • Totally works in desktop. Helpful when I don’t like to see my Boss planning a trip with my phone :p I prefer to use it on a desktop as it’s much easier with a larger screen. But it’s awesome as whatever I did in my browser will automatically sync in the mobile app when sign in.
  • You can hide your travel itinerary. Set it to private and share it to your travel buddy.
  • The in-app directions and easy-to-use maps come in handy. Here’s a sample Sygic travel guide on What to See in Paris (with easy-to-use maps!)
  • For those who are poor in directions like me, Sygic made it easy for us. Just select all the places or tourist attractions that you want to visit and it will automatically suggest the best possible routes!
  • Every attraction comes with updated details like timings and entrance fees that you can print or save for later use (same with Google Trips).
  • It’s a complete package. Apart from the attractions you can also add tour, hotels (they’re connected with the most reliable Booking.com), car rental and even metro maps!

Read More: A 7-Day Trip to NYC using Sygic Travel  (to follow!)

What to Improve:

Sygic Travel can improve their app by adding a train route apart from walking and car. Also you can’t access the map without WIFI but you can still see the itinerary and all attractions in the destinations you planned for. They have a premium version that allows you to download offline maps and fully use the app offline.

Website: www.sygic.com/travel

Available for Free in App Store and Google Play

4. Route Perfect

Started in 2012, Route Perfect is a Europe trip planner not available as an app but a website. The easy-to-use website can plan your trip based on your preferences, budget, and style. With their 3 easy steps of Plan, Book and Go – any travellers can lessen the stress of planning a trip to European countries.

route perfect paris

What We Love:

  • First thing you’ll notice in their website is the use of funky colors, icons and fonts.
  • Website loads faster, easy to use and navigate
  • The Trip Budget selection of Economy, Moderate and Luxury is really helpful for budget savvies.
  • Deciding which type of traveller you are is another plus since I’m always on the Romantic type of traveller :p
  • The Preference Sliders allow you to play around with itinerary options like nature, culture, night life and more.
  • The selection of transport, either by private car or public transport is a powerful feature. It can tell you the estimated time travel from one city to another.
  • After selecting all the cities, number of nights, dragging here and there – there’s an option to share it publicly or privately.
  • It will also provide you the things to do in the cities selected in the most organized way we’ve ever seen!
  • If you’re lazy to create your own, there are suggested itineraries based on the trip length and vacation type are also available
  • It can price your trip by selecting hotels according to your budget and currency.

Read More: A 2 Weeks Italy Itinerary using Route Perfect (to follow!)

What to Improve:

Few things to suggest would be the app version of Route Perfect website. Tours and attractions need to be booked separately. And most of all, go beyond Europe.

Website: www.routeperfect.com

5. TripAdvisor

Perhaps you would always stumble with TripAdvisor when searching reviews of specific hotel, restaurant or attractions that you’re eyeing with. It’s like the google of the travel world where people make honest reviews and recommendations (we’re Level 6 reviewers ) most came from fellow travellers. So we greatly depend on TripAdvisor reviews when checking out a hotel or sight.

What We Love:

  • The awardees list of top hotels, attractions, sights, tours, beaches everything related to travel!
  • Reviews from real people. Most hotels that we haven’t been have TripAdvisor reviews where you can find experiences from people who stayed previously
  • It doesn’t take any information from you unless you book through them but I would suggest to book directly with the integrated sites like booking.com
  • It’s packed with travel tips and tricks from travellers and enthusiasts.

What to Improve:

I would suggest them to make a trip planning app in the future.

Website: www.tripadvisor.com

Available for Free in App Store and Google Play

Our choice

If we have to choose only one planner, it would be Sygic Travel but this is after we saved all the Google Maps walking directions and public transportation details, got the slight help from Route Perfect estimating travel time capability and after checking out reviews in TripAdvisor. Yes, it’s a combination from here and there 🙂  The simple interface and easy to use navigation was our main deciding factor.

How about you, how do you plan your trips? What’s your favorite travel planner app?

 

*Sponsored post however everything in this website are our own opinion