A reader recently wrote me with a question that demanded a bit of attention, and I couldn’t pass up the case:
“My husband and I want to plan a trip of a lifetime without breaking the bank. We know that we want children soon so we know that this might be our one last trip that it’s just the two of us (at least for a while). We are 27 and 28 so we’re up for any kind of challenge (within reason; we’re not mountain climbers). We have no idea where we want to go and I cannot seem to find any websites that are helpful. Do you know of any websites that all you have to do is put your budget and your departure point and it will come up with some options for you?” -Kathy
I can’t tell you how many times I’ve dreamed about taking a vacation—any vacation—without much sense of where I wanted to go. This would inevitably lead to me setting up shop in the travel section of the library in search of inspiration. Thankfully, there’s a much easier way these days, and all it takes are a few clicks and you can be on your way to the trip (idea) of the lifetime. Several websites are out there acting like the fairy godmother of traveler’s dreams, including our sister site TripAdvisor, as well as Travelocity’s Dream Map, Kayak Explore, and the new Wanderfly.
While TripAdvisor offers the ability to look for inspiration by entering the type of travel and region, the results have very little to do with budget. It does, however, provide quite a bit of insight from real travelers, which can come in quite handy when planning such a big vacation.
Travelocity’s Dream Map is a fairly straightforward way to search for destinations based on departure city and a general region of where you might want to go. You can’t enter your budget limit, but it does display the prices to a range of different places on a map. The prices reflect airfare or airfare-and-hotel vacation packages.
Kayak Explore goes a step further and allows you to enter your departure city, budget, and time you would like to travel. It then offers a map with prices to destinations around the world. When you click on a possible candidate, it shows you the price of plane ticket and average cost of lodging. Vacation package prices are not included.
But I think Wanderfly is the crème de la crème of those in need of direction (literally!). You are asked to enter your departure city, budget, travel times, trip duration, possible region (though you can leave this as “anywhere”), and type of vacation (such as romance, beach, snow, golf, food, eco, party, and art, among others). After you search, you are given a variety of different destinations with price estimates on how much it would cost for recommended flights and hotels. Plus, each destination comes with a little background and the possibility to book flights through Kayak and hotels through Hotels.com. Though some of its suggestions aren’t always as exotic as I would hope, there is a bit of variety. And it definitely inspires me to want to pack my bags and hit the road.
I recommend playing around with sites until a destination sparks your imagination. If you’re still undecided after all of that, there’s always a trip to your local library.
Where do you go for travel inspiration? Tell us below!
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