Kayak is one of my favorite sites for finding cheap flights and I love using their tools (price alerts and price forecasting) to make more informed travel decisions. Kayak is a great travel research resource and you can also use it to find local hotspots for your next trip.
Before Kayak, I would spend hours looking through Airbnb and TripAdvisor reviews to find out how close my hotel, hostel or Airbnb would be to things that I really wanted to do. This approach was time-consuming and I didn’t always get the best results. A few months ago I booked an Airbnb in Cancun, Mexico. The apartment was really affordable and I assumed that it was in the Hotel Zone. When I arrived I found out that I was about 30 minutes away from anything fun and exciting. Since we didn’t have a car rental, it was a big inconvenience.
I needed to find a better way to pick a place to stay near the hottest neighborhoods in town. Kayak was the solution. Kayak’s heat map is an awesome tool that provides so much context. The heat maps shows neighborhoods where people are going for dining, shopping, sightseeing and nightlife. You can use the heat maps to 1) find hotels that are near your interests and 2) find general hotspots for travel planning. With a quick scan of the map you’ll know the popular areas for different activities; you can even get street names. This is such a time saver!
How it works?
Let’s say you’re headed to New Orleans and you want to stay near a ton of restaurants to experience Cajun cuisine, you can filter by “eating” and then look for hotels that are near the hotspots. Hotspots are the red and orange clusters and the cool spots are the green and yellow clusters. You can also use the heat map to avoid certain areas. Let’s say you want to avoid New Orleans’ nightlife, you can filter by nightlife and look for the dull areas.
How I do it: I use the heat map (right hand side) and regular filters (left hand side) to help narrow down hotels by price, review scores, freebies and so much more. I can find the perfect place that has everything I’m looking for if I use both filters at the same time.
If I’m not interested in finding a hotel, I use the heat map to find where to eat and sightsee in town. Knowing where the hotspots are is a great starting point for planning a detailed itinerary.
Where to find it?
Kayak’s heat map is a little hard to find so I created a step-by-step guide to help you navigate. I hope you find it useful and definitely try using it when planning your next trip.
Author: Danielle Desir
Danielle Desir is a Travel Finance Strategist that uses her financial background and knack for financial planning to empower those who want to travel afford travel and excel in their personal finances. She shares creative planning strategies, saving tips, cheap flight deals and even talks about her student loan repayment journey on her blog, The Thought Card. Her financial expertise has taken her across the globe to over 21 countries and 3 continents (and counting), all while paying off her student loans, saving for a house, owning a home, and working full-time.