The 3 Travel Tools I Use Most Often When Booking Vacations
I have used many different travel tools when scoping out award travel and planning the next vacation. There are 3 travel tools I use planning pretty much every trip. For experienced miles & points enthusiasts you will most likely use these often too. But for the newer people in “the hobby” these can save you a ton of time.
I will list these from most used to least used and give you the reasons I value them.
This is without a doubt the tool I use most often. I use it for pretty much every trip I have. The only time I don’t is if I am traveling somewhere I have already been and know where I want to stay. Award Mapper saves you time when searching for a points hotel. It saves you from having to go to each hotel group website individually. The map isn’t always 100% accurate but it is a majority of the time. It is a valuable starting point that lets you pick which brand you want to search and how many points a night. A true time saver!
If you use Expedia or something like that to search flight prices then you are doing it wrong! No one gives you more options and a better fare calendar than Google Flights. They recently updated it and made it even better. This is my first stop when I am booking a flight if I am not sure which airline has direct flights etc. or which one has the best cash price. Even if I am booking my flight with miles, which is almost always the case, usually the cheapest cash flight will have the lowest mileage price too. So it is always a good place to start.
For the more exotic flights or if I am trying to leverage airline partnerships etc. I go to Award Hacker. This is an amazing tool that will tell you which airline’s program can offer you the best price in points, if saver space is available. It will also tell you which points transfer to that airline program. This is the tool that would be hardest for me to replicate somewhere else.
Those are the 3 travel tools I use most often but I thought I would give you a few honorable mentions.
Wikipedia is actually a pretty valuable source when looking up airport info. I mainly use it to see which airlines fly into a specific airport. It is most helpful for smaller off the beaten path airports.
Google Calendar is a simple tool that most everyone uses but it keeps me sane and helps with my fading brain power :). I set alerts for airfare sales, award calendar openings, reminders for deals etc. It comes in handy just like it does for everyday life. Be sure you are maxing out it’s usefulness.
Points Break Calendar – this is a pretty specific thing but Points with a Crew does a great job creating a points break map each quarter for IHG. Points breaks are hotels that have award sales for IHG. They range from 5,000-15,000 a night which offers extreme value. The map helps me visualize where the hotels on the list are located which is preferable to just looking at the list.
I know there are more exotic tools, many with subscription fees, but these are the 3 travel tools I use most often. They are the workhorses that I come back to time after time.
Let me know you 3 most used travel tools in the comments section.
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Airline programs mainly because I had read that the award flights for first class/business class open a year in advance on some airlines, but on others they only open up a few weeks before departure.
That is a good idea. I will add it to the list!
How about posting a list of award calendar openings? Pretty Please.
You mean for each airline and hotel program etc?