Next week, for my birthday, Stephenie and I are going to Rome and Pompeii. There is a type of excitement that goes along with visiting a city that was the center of the world for nearly a millennia that is unmatched by anything else. As excited as I am – and I am VERY excited – I am also very adept at taking what should be an exciting past-time – planning our trip – and twisting it into a stress-filled nightmare. In the middle of my stress, I found myself turning to my usual friend stumbleupon.com which can take any unpleasant mood and ameliorate it by putting me into a meme induced coma.
As my eyes drooped and my right finger rhythmically clicked “stumble” at the top of the page, there was an exciting turn of events. I was directed in my stumbling to a site called plnnr.com.
This site takes you through only a few magical steps to change you from a travel chump to a master planner. In a few hours I was able to plan an entire trip with all of the sites I most wanted to see, a clear schedule (including travelling time between destinations), and trip directions. It also has, with each destination, a slide out information pannel that has a summary which also links to Yahoo Travel, Trip Advisor, and other helpful sites. A tab on the control pannel allows you to edit your trip details and then increase or decrease certain components of the trip to help tailor it to you (theatre, museums, shopping, family friendly, etc.)
To be fair, the site isn’t perfect. A few very desirable destinations were not included on their “attractions” list (such as the Monte Palatino). There is also no warning for making reservations to places ahead of time if required (such as the Borghese Gallery), bus route options, or tips on deals (such as the Roma Pass). One last downside of Plnnr is that there are only so many destinations that it has available. I would expect this to eventually change though.
But, I don’t want to seem overly-critical. Plnnr gives me a killer road map to start with that I can divert from if I feel like it.
I would, in conjunction with Plnnr, recommend using Rick Steves’ Travel guides. If you haven’t heard of Rick Steves your life is missing something. He is the friendly Lutheran traveler. His “Travel through the back door philosophy” is basically unbeatable. And although I think he needs to work on naming his travel philosophies, I find his guidance extremely helpful. Find his book on Rome here. He also has a travel show that I think is available on Hulu (but I can’t access Hulu from the UK and I haven’t set up a VPN so I have no idea if it’s still there).
This trip is a bit of an experiment. We are using new tools to go to a place we’ve never been before (also Stephenie is seven months pregnant). Be sure to check back to see if it worked! Check out our actual Plnnr Itinerary here.