In the last week, I’ve had conversations with three be-coupled friends about where they should go and when. At the end of each hash session, they seemed daunted by the prospect of researching hotels and choosing things to do.
In a stroke of good timing, I’ve just discovered a new travel planning tool called Plnnr.
The (poorly spelled but) user-friendly brainchild of three nice Jewish boys, this is a very helpful tool if you’re planning a city vacation. Big cities generally entail complicated itineraries, especially if you’re a first-time visitor or have more interest and energy than time.
Plnnr asks you to make five choices:
At present, Plnnr features 12 cities:
Amsterdam – Barcelona – Berlin – Dublin – London – New York City – Paris – Prague – Rome – San Francisco – Toronto – Washington. D.C.
(To test the tool as a whole, I ran searches for Barcelona, London, New York City, Paris, San Francisco and D.C., all cities I know reasonably well.)
Type in a date and either choose a trip length (2-7 days) or, if you’re lucky enough to have more time, futz with the interactive calendar.
First-time visitor? Traveling with kids? Prefer culture or the outdoors? I found it fun to compare different versions of a city based on different interests and focus. No need to worry if you have a mix of interests, as you can add itinerary features to your trip plan later.
Whether you’re a light to extreme traveler — that is, you prefer to sleep in and wander or get up early and see everything — you can tailor your trip’s daily schedule accordingly. You’ll be able to make adjustments to your trip plan if you want to see the road less/more taken.
Pick from one to five stars to tailor your hotel suggestions. Then, click on the site’s price comparison tool or simply click through to your trip plan.
My overall reaction to the resulting trip plans? Fantastic, every time.
Each trip plan provides a split screen with a map, a hotel suggestion and an interactive, day-by-day itinerary. The hotel can be changed by clicking Set Hotel and conducting a simple search either in Plnnr’s hotels list or via interactive icons on the map. Suggested hotels can be booked directly through Hotels Combined, which offers pretty darn competitive prices.
The bare-bones version of the daily itinerary lists closely-grouped attractions and defines them by a recommended amount of time to spend at each one, walking distance from each other, and their focus (arts, history, amusement, etc.). If you want to know more about any suggested attraction, click through on its link and read its write-up from Frommers, Tripadvisor, Yahoo and more. If you want more control over your daily itinerary, you can click through to a city-wide list of attractions, delete any attraction from any day, or simply change the amount of time you spend there.
To add shopping opportunities, performances and/or restaurants, click Trip Profile and follow the clear instructions. If at any time you want to change the length of your trip, simply click Change Trip Dates.
Your finalized itinerary (which is always editable) can be stored on your smartphone, printed or shared at an adjustable level of private or public-ness on several forms of social media.
The main drawback of Plannr: it doesn’t allow you to book flights. At this writing, the site was launched all of one month ago, so it’s my hope that as the site grows, partnerships with flight booking sites will be added. I’d also love to see the eventual addition of other cities and locations.
For now, as a person who’s been known to travel with an itinerary of stacked papers, guidebooks and up to 50 bookmarked pages on my iPhone, this site would help me cut down on at least some of the schlepping, distraction and noise.
I’d definitely recommend Plnnr as a time-saving tool to anyone planning to visit these cities.