I’ve learned about a few websites and apps that make travel planning easier. We used Expedia and Bookings.com to make all our hotel reservations. Strangely, they did not always have the same accommodations available, and if they did they were not always the same price. We ended up using Expedia for the majority of our reservations. This is nice because it makes an itinerary for your whole trip. Both apps show lots of pictures of the properties and you can narrow your choices by price, ratings, and amenities.

If you use Gmail and Google Calendar, Google will helpfully read your email and put all your reservations on your calendar. This was very handy because with a glance at my calendar I realized I had double booked one day and didn’t have a place to stay the next day.

Tripit is another app that will read your email and add all your hotel, flights and rental car reservations to an itinerary. You can also add other activities (like a scuba dive and dinner at Hobbiton) to your itinerary. Great for keeping everything in one place. While on your trip you can add photos to each day too. I think that will be handy for remembering when, where and what we saw.

For mapping our adventure, I found a great article on how to use the Google map engine to make your own custom map. I dropped all our lodgings on the map and then Google calculated the routes. Assuming all goes as planned, we will be driving about 1200 miles on the North Island and 900 miles on the South Island. Good thing Shawn loaded up the iPod with tunes.

Shawn also found a used GPS on eBay with New Zealand maps installed. We paid about $80 for it and can probably resell it when we get home and recoup our investment. This was much cheaper than adding a GPS to our rental car. Shawn has also pre-loaded all our destination addresses into the GPS so we’re ready to hit the road.

Google map of trip

I love technology, but I’ve heard Internet performance in New Zealand is a bit slower than what we’re used to. Oh well…its vacation and we’re not in a rush.