Lately, I helped my good friends Amy and Jordan plan their honeymoon to Southeast Asia as my wedding gift to them.
It was such an incredibly rewarding process, from our initial Skype call brainstorming session to watching with excitement as the trip rolled out on Instagram. Yet some of the in-between bits reminded me how clunky and disorganized travel planning can be for such a special trip. Picking a hotel meant opening a more and more tabs in my browser — to review sites, booking engines, maps — and making a million bookmarks I couldn’t find an hour later. As I put together endless pages of messy word documents with dates, hotel choices, links to blog posts I had written and more, I remember thinking to myself, “There must be a better way.”
And then I found Yonderbound.
Yonderbound is more than a hotel booking engine. It kind of functions like a travel planning scrapbook, allowing you to save hotels you’re interested in into various Yonderboxes while you daydream. You can keep these boxes private or share them with others. So had I been a Yonderbounder back when I was planning that dream honeymoon, I could have put together a Yonderbox called “Amy and Jordan’s Honeymoon,” and saved my hotel recommendations for each leg of the trip. Best of all, you can organize possible hotels by date and add tips for each destination into the notes, effectively making it a beautifully presented , perfectly organized trip itinerary. They could review it as often as necessary, and book with the click of a button.
(Amy and Jordan, don’t feel dissed by that beautiful word document now. I pinky promise to make you a Yonderbox for your second honeymoon!)
One of the most common questions I get via email from readers is, “Where should I stay in Thailand?” When I first started playing around with Yonderbound, I was thrilled to realize I finally had a way to stylishly and easily answer that question.
I started with Where to Stay in Bangkok. I’ve stayed in more hotels in Bangkok than I have in any other place in the world, and I’m always amazed at both the range and the quality of accommodation in this fabulous city. While I have a few favorites I keep going back to again and again, I love checking out new hotels here — and I added a few of the ones on my wish list to the list too, as a personal goal. While I thought I had a pretty thorough pulse on the Bangkok sleep scene, I was surprised to find a few new ones on Yonderbound that I can’t wait to check out.
Next, I moved on to Where to Stay in Koh Tao. This is definitely the area you guys ask me about the most, and I always hesitate to dole out recommendations as I rent apartments and long term accommodation here and don’t typically stay in hotels. But let’s be honest — it’s a small island, and I’ve crashed a few pools. While I might not have personally stayed in all these places, I added what insight I have into my notes and curated a collection of hotels I’d send my family and friends to if they were here for a visit.
And then, just for fun, I put together a final Yonderbox of some of my favorite hotels around the world. I love looking at this list — it reminds me to be thankful for a life of travel!
What I Like About Yonderbound
The primary benefit to Yonderbound is an obvious one — the ability to save your searches and favorite results in one tidy place for future reference. For me, travel planning is usually a process that involves coming back to my ideas a couple times before I’m ready to book. Yonderbound was built for that.
Another favorite? That Tripadvisor reviews are integrated into the hotel descriptions — there’s no way I could ever commit to a hefty hotel booking without seeing what my fellow travelers had to say. I’m happy not to have to open another tab to find out.
Also, I love that when I search for a destination, public Yonderboxes created by other users that feature that destination pop up. I think, dream, and breathe travel — naturally, I’m nosy as to what other people are up to when they’re doing the same.
Room for Improvement
My one gripe with Yonderbound? That your search must include specific dates. The ability to search via flexible dates or even better, with no date constraints, would make it a lot easier to use the sight to just daydream and plan trips that don’t have a solid itinerary yet. Sometimes I wasn’t sure if a specific hotel I had in mind was unavailable on the dates I was using or unavailable on Yonderbound altogether — I had to test several different dates and still couldn’t be totally sure if it didn’t show up.
Also — and this is an issue that will solve itself naturally as the site expands and grows — I’d love to see more budget and hostel accommodation options. I was happy to see some of my top choices for Bangkok hostels available but when I poked around for a few of my all time faves in other parts of the world I came up empty. Often though, when I’m backpacking I don’t bother to book ahead. It’s the bigger trips that I take with family and friends that I tend to really plan thoroughly for, and that’s where midrange and high-end hotels come in anyway.
Basically, I’m loving this new travel tool. I’m excited to have a great new resource to point people to when they ask for accommodation recommendations in my favorite places, and who knows — I might just fire up that honeymoon planning service I joked about starting for my friends after all! In the meantime, if you need me, I have a trip to Cambodia for myself to plan…
How do you stay organized when planning your trips?
This post was written by me and brought to you by Yonderbound. I will earn a small percentage of any bookings made through the links in this post or through my Yonderboxes — at no extra cost to the traveler.