Resources

Some of the best travel resources we take advantage of while planning a trip.

Transportation:
Kayak – Best place to quickly compare flight costs and schedules.
Amtrak – We love ending a long trip with a relaxing train experience rather than a hectic airport. Watch for seasonal specials and deals. Best options are for people in the Chicago area or Northeast corridor where there are the most train options.
Uber and Lift Apps – Use these interchangeably depending on which has a better price and which has a coupon or special promotion. We recently used the Uber app for scooter rental in St. Louis also.
RVshare – Peer-to-peer RV rental site with wide selection. We haven’t done an RV trip yet, but have always thought it would be great for a National Parks/camping excursion with friends.
Flightaware.com – I love using this site to see the flight path and statistics from a recent plane trip. Also good for checking out recent performance of an upcoming flight.
Gasbuddy App – Finds best gas prices nearby in real time.
Bestparking.com – Good way to compare parking prices in unfamiliar urban areas. Also has a phone app.

Lodging:
Hotwire – Best for large cities where Hotwire’s search area boundaries are compact so we can be sure to be in a specific neighborhood. Search in a private browser to avoid getting ads from your searched destinations for the next month.
Hotels.com – We use this in mid-size cities where we want to be sure to be in a central area and not out by an interstate highway.
Airbnb – We only started using Airbnb on our 2017 Eastern trip, but we’ve been incorporating it into our lodging plans ever since and have had great experiences.
Recreation.gov – Reserve campgrounds and activities, plus permits for high-demand sites.

Books:
National Geographic guide to the National Parks of the United States – Essential for all travels in National Parks. Gives a good overview for how to begin planning a visit.
National Geographic guide to the National Parks of Canada – Same as the above, but caters to our National Parks expansion north of the border.
National Geographic 10 Best of Everything National Parks – Deeper dive into activities in the parks, lists the best things in all kinds of categories from best hikes to best learning experiences.
National Geographic Guide to Scenic Highways & Byways – Great resource for finding scenic routes off the beaten path. Great way to find breaks from monotonous interstate driving.
How the States Got Their Shapes – Just for fun info on why each U.S. State’s borders were created.
Rand McNally Road Atlas – We always bring one along because it’s just more satisfying to be able to look at a paper map than a phone or car gps screen.

Activities:
AllTrails – Tracks hiking distance, elevation gain and time. Also a great way to find hikes recorded by other users.
SunsetWX.com – Shows where to expect the best sunset and sunrise weather. Great for seeing if it’s worth rising early for sunrise or positioning appropriately for sunset photos.

 

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