We have a confession to make.
We don't always enjoy planning trips.
Now, don't get us wrong. The excitement of picking a new destination and finally booking that flight is one of life's greatest highs (we've been told having a baby is equally exciting, but as two people firmly in the 'passport stamps not parents' category, we'll have to take their word for it), but few can deny that planning a holiday is not without its stresses.
We admire those that can settle on a date, pick a new country and part with their cash all on the same day, but alas, we are not one of those people. No, we're much more likely to pick France, end up researching long-haul, find an Airbnb in Mexico and google flights to South Africa.
Turns out that planning, even for those like us that enjoy planning, can be tricky.
Add in the fact that not everybody has the time to check and re-check prices on a daily (okay, hourly if we're procrastinating) basis, and it quickly becomes clear that many of us could do with a little help.
For our parents, this help came in the form of a travel agent. You'd walk into a little office on the high street and a friendly woman wearing a tad too much make-up would plug your requests into her computer and it, in turn, would print out an itinerary to suit.
In a world of cheap flights and an appetite for adventure however, most of us realise that the modern travel agent can be a little limiting. What if you want to take a multi-destination vacation, tailored to your budget and your interests? Normally, we'd suggest a cup of tea, a laptop and the ability to flip between thirty or so open tabs on your screen - but there are alternatives.
Alternatives like Routeperfect.
What is RoutePerfect?
Simply put (and to borrow their description) Routeperfect is a free, online trip-planning tool that allows travellers to create a
customised itinerary based on their interests, travel preferences, vacation type, transportation method and budget.
And it does exactly what it says on the tin.
You insert a start point and an end point, and it plans your route. No need to work out confusing logistics yourself, to establish whether you can indeed drive that far in one day or find out too late that that little town you've got your heart on staying in is actually a one-hotel-band and they're closed for refurbishments. Instead it suggests the practical and the possible, all wrapped up in the perfect bow for how you like to travel.
How Does RoutePErfect WOrk?
Step One - Getting Started
After creating your profile, the Routeperfect planning process begins with six simple elements: where and when you start your trip, where it ends, trip duration, vacation type (choose between 'Romantic', 'Friends', 'Family' and 'Solo') and whether you plan on having your own car or relying on public transport.
You can go round trip, or select different start and end points. On the assumption that for a holiday you'll likely be flying into your first destination, remember to pick an alternative starting point than your home city (Routeperfect doesn't currently factor in flights - but this is a feature they will be adding very soon).
In order to properly assess the functionality of Routeperfect, we needed to plan our own dream trip - and there was a clear winner. After falling in love with Portugal in 2017, we know that this perpetually sunny country is going to feature high on this year's European bucket-list, and with no better way to discover a destination than on an epic road trip, this gave us the perfect opportunity to get started on designing a route!
Step Two - Making the Trip Your Own
The initial itinerary provided by the website may be ideal, but chances are, it'll need a little tweaking - this is where the sliders on the left hand side of the page come in, and you get to really personalise your trip.
For us, we know that we're craving the outdoors. We want to take on epic hikes, get lost in the countryside, peer over coastline cliffs and bathe in the ocean - so we prioritised 'Nature', 'Active' and 'Beaches', and then adjusted the suggestions to our liking.
For example, Porto was one of the places we visited last year, so despite loving the city we'd prefer to limit our time here to one night. Additionally, so as to maximise beach days, we would like to extend our time in Sesimbra to two nights and add in Lagos as an extra stop.
This feature is particularly useful for those planning a trip that simply has to include a visit to a must-see location. Afterall, many people wouldn't visit the UK without passing through London, or France without spending a night or two in Paris!
If you're not sure about a stop on the route (we had, for example, never heard of Marvao), simply scroll down a little, and you'll find a brief summary of the destination as well as top things to do in the area and recommended further reading. These suggestions should help you decide whether it's a keeper.
Step Three - Explore The Route
This is where things get pretty cool.
Instead of jumping from blog pages (ahem!), Lonely Planet 'can't miss' lists and tourism board websites, as is usual when most of us are planning a trip, Routeperfect knows just the sort of things that will pique our interest. Based on your pre-seleceted interests, the tool will suggests detours and stop-overs on the route from one destination to the next.
Just bear in mind that the webiste suggests ten possible additional sites to see each time, so you'll still have to make the decision on which one to prioritise.
Step Four - Get the Itinerary Locked In
As none of the trip details are held behind a pay-wall, you can of course use Routeperfect to simply gather trip ideas. However, one of the big selling points of this service are the accommodation discounts.
For each destination your itinerary suggests spending the night in, you are able to access accommodation options based upon your budget, all booked via TripAdvisor. The nifty bit is that by booking via this platform, Routeperfect promise to save you around 20% off the overall accommodation cost.
Our Thoughts on RoutePerfect.
Planning trips can be time consuming. And whilst we'll always crave the excitement of thumbing through a guidebook to pick the next destination, knowing there is a website out there than can do the job of several may be a serious game changer - especially for those who don't have the time to plan a trip, don't know where to start or simply need a helping hand.
We think it's fair to say that this won't be the last time we use Routeperfect.
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This article was written by Along Dusty Roads, in association with RoutePerfect, and based upon our experience of using the tool to plan an itinerary.