Tips Tools How To Research The Best Travel Destinations


There are a number of factors to take into account when deciding on the right destination. Country or city? Big resort or boutique hotel? Besides convenience, price, and everyone's activity wish list, you also have to consider the length of your trip and the best time to visit. Simplify your decision by using these online tools that can help you weigh the options.

Tap into the global community. The site Gogobot (www.gogobot.com) was born out of the premise that the best travel advice comes from the people that you know. Cast out a question (what's the best Caribbean island for snorkeling?) and collect it all in a "passport" of trips.

Find out where your friends live. Use Wanderfly (www.wanderfly.com), a trip recommender that lets you select a departure city, the trip length, the time of year, and a theme (spa, art, shopping, and more). There's also a tab -- thanks to Facebook Connect -- that shows if you have any friends who live in the area for local tips and advice. A click on the "share" button will post Wanderfly trips on social networks or send them through e-mail. Even more group-travel features are in the works: shareable Wanderlists and group polls on where to go next.

Compare hotels. Set a property as a "reference hotel" and Gekko (www.gekko.com) will trawl through its database of more than 200,000 properties to come up with comparable recommendations in your chosen city.

Narrow down the activity list. An inspiration search engine, Goby (www.goby.com), cuts down on research time once you've decided on the three basic W's: what, where, and when? Particularly strong in local listings, Goby also has a location-based mobile app that's great for spur-of-the-moment ideas.

Turn inspiration into booking. Travel giants Kayak Explore (www.kayak.com/explore.com) and Cheapflights.com (www.cheapflights.com/inspiration) have rolled out "inspiration" features, hooking travelers up with trip ideas that then lead directly to booking sites -- bridging the gap between idea and planning.