Trip Planning in the Digital Age

Here’s a list, roughly from most to least useful, of the sites, apps and other online resources I used in researching our trip to Hawaii.  The links I’ve included are mostly to info about Kauai since that’s our first stop but most of these searches were repeated for Maui info.

  • YouTube – I always think of that presentation I did in library school about the impact of online broadcasting and how it’s so amazing to be able to see video of pretty much anything you want related to your trip – from somebody videotaping their landing at the airport to the view from the highway to video of the exact condos and beaches you’ll be at.   Or even a professional-quality travelogue of another couple’s time on the island.
  • Beyond YouTube, its parent company, Google, was the starting place for so many of my searches, whether I was looking for news, images, maps or whatever.   Google Docs is also where I created an “itinerary” file where I could collect tidbits, links and other information whether I was at home, on the bus or sitting in the staff room at RPL.
  • TripAdvisor.com – great for user-submitted reviews of hotels, attractions as well as general comments throughout their forums (eg. “Costco Lihue“)
  • Kauai Revealed and Maui Revealed are two of the best known (and most disliked by locals) guidebooks for the islands.  Written by Hawaii residents who don’t take ads or freebies, they’re written in a fun, informal style.  They also have apps that reproduce the entire content of their various guides to each island which are nice because you don’t need internet access for the content to be available.  The apps even have a map of the island that you can click to find nearby activities and restaurants, again without needing an internet connection.  (Only issue I have with the apps is that Kauai lets you mark “Favourites” as you work through the book but the Maui one doesn’t for some reason.)
  • MetaFilter and AskMetafilter had a wealth of information as did RedditQuora is another curated Q&A site that provided decent info. and it was fun to click through StumbleUpon sometimes too to get really random but relevant info.
  • Twitter became a regular stop as I would search for the latest tweets about Kauai and Maui
  • Surprisingly, I didn’t look at Wikipedia as much as you might expect – maybe because most of what I was looking for was opinions, not “neutral point of view”.
  • Similarly, Facebook wasn’t as useful as you might think.  Most attractions/hotels have web pages but they tend to have generic promotional information rather than true insight.  I did post about our trip, maybe a month or more ago, and did get quite a few suggestions from my social circle but again, I’m not sure if I didn’t get anything I hadn’t already come across.
  • Flickr was great for photos of the islands and all they contain, especially flicking through them (er, no pun intended) with my 2011, App of the Year, Flipboard.
  • Sites like UrbanSpoon and Chowhound led to lots of good ideas for restaurants we may want to try out.
  • Most of the sites I’ve listed have iPhone apps that allow me to continue my research on the bus or wherever.  I’ve also downloaded numerous apps to do with specific topics – from a wifi hotspot finder to an app that provided a variety of ready-to-use coupons for Maui to one that was an app for the local weekly alternative newspaper in Kauai (disappointed that their web site and/or app don’t seem to have a working link to their annual “Best of” awards which is often the easiest way to figure out where to hit when you visit a new city.  We used this approach visiting St. John’s earlier this year and it was great!)
  • Earlier, I posted a link to a TechCrunch article about “Social Travel” which led to many sites, some I knew about and some I didn’t.  Recently, the New York Times travel section had a similar article called “19 Web Sites for Travel Savings in 2012“.
  • TripIt is a helpful site that allows you to forward all your travel info – flight, hotel and rental car bookings – and have it automatically entered into an itinerary along with maps, weather forecasts and so on for your destination(s).  If your info isn’t in a supported format (eg. the rental condo or the helicopter charter we’ve booked in Lihue), you can manually enter it.
  • The public library has an ever-improving e-book collection.  For example, they had a Maui guidebook available when I started looking (though the two they have now have long wait lists) and, the beauty of working at the library is that when you notice a gap (eg. Kauai guidebooks), you can fire off a quick e-mail to the relevant collections coordinator and the missing book is on your iPhone within hours!  😉
  • Although the selection isn’t great, I’ve also had fun looking for anything that was either shot in Hawaiior had some sort of Hawaii/tropical/south pacific connection on NetFlix whether that was a mainstream Hollywood movie like Blue Crush or a documentary like School of Surf.
  • Although I would never endorse this, I suspect bit torrent sites also have a wide range of movies – from Tropic Thunder to Blue Hawaii – as well as Hawaii-themed music collections and even e-books about the islands that you could download to help build your anticipation prior to your trip!

What’d I miss???

Trackbacks & Pingbacks 2

  1. From Head Tale - Travel The World Without Leaving Your Laptop on 26 Jan 2014 at 8:02 pm

    […] The day before we left for Hawaii a couple years ago, I did a post summarizing how much of a role various web sites – from Google to Reddit to Trip Adviso…. […]

  2. From Head Tale - Travel Planning, Coincidence and (Another) Once In A Lifetime Experience on 18 Feb 2015 at 1:08 am

    […] program was basically an expanded version of a blog post I did before our Kauai trip about how I researched everything I could about […]

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