7 Services for a Stress-Free Summer Vacation
If you think travel agents disappeared completely in the age of online booking, think again. They're back—in a whole new, modern form.
Outside's long reads email newsletter features our strongest writing, most ambitious reporting, and award-winning storytelling about the outdoors. Sign up today.
To dream up the ideal summer getaway, you could spend hours researching destinations online, finding the perfect place to stay, and planning adventures to do while you’re there. If that’s your thing, go for it. But if the idea of spending time researching, planning, and booking a trip adds unwanted stress to what’s supposed to be a carefree escape, then we have an easy fix for you: let the experts plan your journey, which more and more millennials are now doing. Use our in-house travel pros at Outside GO, who have extensive knowledge on the best adventures around the world, or try one of the new apps or sport specialists below.
Travel a la Carte
The new app Travel a la Carte, which debuted in April and is still in beta testing, offers a one-stop booking agent and an AI travel assistant named Foxi to ease your summer-trip worries. Input your preferred dates, where you want to go, and how much you’d like to spend, and the app will churn out suggested itineraries for you, then enable you to book everything directly in one place. That way, your entire program is kept in one handy spot for easy organization on the road. The app’s built-in digital wallet enables users to store funds and split bills when abroad.
Looking for someone to lead your next adventure? There’s a simpler way to find one now: 57hours, launched in 2018 to make it easier to find outdoor professionals and certified mountain guides who can lead outings like rock climbing in New York’s Shawangunks or mountain biking in Crested Butte, Colorado. The name comes from the number of hours of fun you can have between 3 P.M. Friday and midnight Sunday.
JetSet World Travel
JetSet World Travel has a crew of sage travel gurus who can help you dream up your perfect trip—then make it happen in the most seamless way possible. With vetted destinations in 111 countries, it can hatch family adventures to Costa Rica, bike-riding and wine-tasting journeys around Italy, or solo trekking in Chile. Want to stay closer to home? It has inside beta on the best coastal lodges in Big Sur, California, and ranches in Montana. JetSet also created an app called Axus that builds your itinerary and stores it in one handy place.
Here’s the idea behind Wild Bum, a new digital travel resource created in 2018: it recruits and vets “guide architects” to curate tailored, comprehensive travel guides to revered destinations—places like Costa Rica, the Oregon coast, or Moab, Utah. Those passionate travelers dish on their favorite places to stay and eat, plus lesser-known activities that locals love, in an easy-to-follow PDF that you can purchase. It’s like having a friend who’s traveled in all the places you want to go and gives you their inside secrets. Those experts set their own price for buying their tips, ranging from $25 to $150.
Wild World Wanderings
Brooke Edwards is an Alaskan-based mountain guide and ecotourism expert who started Wild World Wanderings in 2016 to offer guided trips around the 49th state and beyond, but she now offers customized concierge-style itineraries for anywhere in the world you want to go, from Iceland to Japan to Utah. You can hire Edwards to take you into the mountains on a hiking, skiing, climbing, or paddling adventure, or tell her what you’re looking for, and she’ll cook up the whole trip for you, with a detailed itinerary ready for you to plug in and go.
At Trippy, ask any travel question you can think of (recent examples: “Where’s the best sunset in the world?” and “What are the best gluten-free restaurants in London?”) and a savvy expert will weigh in (answers: Botswana for sunsets and London’s Leggero for gluten-free ravioli). You can also search the site via destination to see all the FAQs on locations from Barcelona to Bangkok. Or use their road-trip planner, which tells you how long it’ll take to drive from point A to point B and offers suggested stops (like sights, activities, or places to eat) along the way.
Heli launched in 2015 as an online service for booking heli-skiing trips. It still offers those packages, but the site has expanded its reach to include kitesurfing, fishing, diving, surfing, and wildlife safaris. The website does all the legwork for you. Enter the type of adventure you’re looking for and the dates you want to go—say, kitesurfing in July (location is optional)—and it’ll recommend guided trips and lodging packages around the world, like a seven-day stay at a surf lodge in Costa Rica.