Over the past few years we’ve seen lots of sites launch to help with trip planning. Some help you plan with friends, or try to guess what you might like based on some criteria. In the end, these sites all basically come up with a list of activities or destinations within a city that may (or may not) meet your needs. Trip planning is extremely complex, and sometimes the best solution is to remove the complexity. That’s where plnnr.com comes in.
Here’s the pitch: For 18 cities, plnnr.com will come up with an itinerary for your trip based on the number of days you’re there and (roughly speaking) what kind of traveler you are (traveling with kids? looking for outdoorsy stuff?). That’s it. The site will then show you a map with a detailed, day-by-day itinerary of what you should do, including how much time to spend in each, detailed directions on how to get from one activity to the next, and help you find a hotel (though this is really about trip planning, not hotel search).
You can then go through each activity and say whether you like it or not; if you don’t, it will slot something else in. The clever part of this is that the itinerary makes geographic sense — it is not sending you all over the city from one activity to the next. It groups activities together by location, so each day seems to be typically spent in one part of the city to reduce the amount of travel each day. Smart, right? And much better than a list of activities you typically find from these types of sites (which can be useless if you have no idea where they are in relation to each other).
You can also edit the amount of time you want to spend on any activity, in which case the site will re-calculate your day based on the new requirements (ie, an activity that was suggested for 3 hours in the morning may work better if it’s slotted in the afternoon if you only want it for 90 minutes). Yes, yes, I know: if you haven’t been to the Louvre, how could you know how long you should be there. Answer: I have no idea.
The other kinda quirky drawback: the itinerary assumes you don’t eat. No time is left for meals, which is odd, especially since it would be useful to recommend places to eat along the way.
Even so, plnnr.com has taken a guidebook staple: the “what to do if you have 3 days” guide, and made it a bit more customizable and interactive. I think it’s a really smart way to go, rather than trying to make it infinitely customizable. Sure, they can add nightlife and food options – I assume they’ll get there. But it’s a great early step for people trying to get an outline for a short city break.