Trip planners help budget travelers organize practical itineraries. It's an important first step on any affordable trip.
These websites or smartphone apps take information about a possible trip and show you what's practical and what might need to wait for another vacation. There are dozens of these tools, and they cater to a wide variety of travel interests.
Are you an adventure traveler? Do you enjoy visiting national parks or ballparks? Maybe you want to combine historic sites or visit great restaurants. Chances are there is an efficient way to organize your trip that will save both time and money.
The following sampling of three such trip planners is simply an introduction to how the tools work. They are intended as examples of what can be accomplished in a short time with a trip planner.
Lovers of baseball are among the most driven and loyal fans in all of the sports. Perhaps you have met people who want to visit every Major League Baseball park.
If you're not a baseball fan please stay with us, because this presents an interesting budget travel exercise. How do you check off as many parks as possible in a short time and with limited financial resources?
Given the complexities of home-and-away schedules, All-Star breaks, day games, and night games, it's good to have a tool such as Baseball-RoadTrip.com at your disposal.
Enter the dates you're available to travel, and some teams that are relatively close in geographic proximity. You can select "day games only" or "night games only" and switch the order of your itinerary for ballparks that are less than 100 miles apart. Click the "plan your trip" button and receive a proposed itinerary, along with links to purchase game tickets.
The tool also provides mileage between cities for planning the most efficient trip.
Have you ever considered flying around the world? For most of us, that's a rather ambitious itinerary.
AirTreks.com is a travel agency specializing in multi-stop international travel. You can use the website to plan your global circumnavigation, or simply help you discover the best itineraries between several adjacent cities far from your starting point. A notice on the site says "the final price of your trip will depend on your travel dates, availability and taxes." At this point, you submit your itinerary and contact information to hear back from an agent.
Once you submit your itinerary and an agent begins working on it, that quoted price range is usually good for a relatively short time -- maybe 24 hours or so.
The tool will also pass along nearby cities you can add to the itinerary for free or at very low cost. Often, they are major air hubs that you'll have to use to connect to your selected destinations.
There is also a live chat option that connects you with an operator who will answer your questions.
It's an easy way to shop for airfares when you have a complicated international itinerary to plan.
RoadTrippers.com asks immediately for a route and travel dates. From there, it provides scores of choices for accommodations, attractions and culture, food and drink, outdoors and recreation, points of interest, vacation rentals, camping, entertainment, services, shopping, sports, and motoring.
The most direct route between your start and finish will be mapped, but there is a feature for diverting a certain number of miles (up to 30) from each route. So this tool can be used for people on a leisurely vacation or a no-time-to-lose business trip. You can plan every last detail, or simply line up a few hotel rooms.
Simply save the finished itinerary and share it via email with anyone you wish. RoadTrippers is available in apps for iPhone and Android.