Best Travel Planning Tools
After writing my post on the top 5 apps you should travel with I wanted to write a more detailed page about more travel planning tools that helped us plan our trip and the ones we’ve used the most while travelling. Here are my top travel planning websites and a few apps thrown in for good measure. I’ll be adding more as I find them, feel free to comment and let me know if there are any you think I should add.
No travel planning toolkit would be complete without a good flight comparison site. You’ll always need a good flight compare website under your belt and SkyScanner and Kayak are 2 of the best. They can much more than just flight comparisons but for now we’ll just look at their flights feature.
Both websites are able to send you alerts on price changes. If you have a trip in mind set up an alert and they will email you when something changes.
This is the go to website for information on train travel around the world. The website lists pretty much every country in the world and gives information on reservations, routes and timetables. It’s won numerous awards and we’ve used it multiple times to get information on train travel. If you’re thinking of booking a train ticket in a foreign country, take a look at this website and it will tell you everything you need to know.
Getting from A to B
I stumbled across this website completely by chance when trying to figure out how to get from one place to the other. This is the perfect website that can tell you exactly how you can get from one place to another, approximately how much it will cost you and how much time it will take. It’s meant we can make informed decisions about when to fly and when to take trains or busses, and it helps to see your route mapped out in front of you when you’re getting overwhelmed!
This is an app rather than a website but it has been the most useful app I’ve downloaded on our trip. It’s basically an offline map but you do need to download regions in advance. It’s all free and you can save specific locations as a pin. I’ve already mapped out all the hotels we’ve booked and it’s easy to see how far away it is from where you arrive. It will also give directions and tell you how far you are from something by car, bike or by walking and how long it will take you to get there. It’s also useful when bargaining prices with taxi drivers if you know the exact distance your journey will be.
HostelWorld and Booking.com are my 2 favourite websites to book accommodation. Hostelworld obviously focusses more on hostels and dorms but they also have private rooms on offer in many hostels. When HostelWorld doesn’t deliver I usually turn to booking.com which tends to have a wider range of cheap guesthouses. You can use the filter and sort options on both sites to make sure you find a hotel with the services you need and for a price you can afford.
Airbnb and Housetrip are websites usually used for booking out a whole apartment or part of a house. I’ve used Housetrip a lot in France and Airbnb a few times in the UK. They haven’t caught on everywhere but if you’re looking to stay somewhere a bit longer and want your own space then it’s worth having a look.
Couchsurfing is a great option for those on a budget that really want to get stuck into local culture. It’s basically a website where you create a profile and ask people who advertise a spare room if you can stay at theirs for free! I tried it a couple of times on a trip to Europe and you can read more about my opinions on couchsurfing here.
Lonely Planet is an obvious one. They will give you a good run down of the main attractions of any destination. Their books are also the top rated travel guides, but like us if you don’t have the room to carry them around in your backpack a quick search of their website can also tell you what you need to know. I have mixed feelings about tripadvisor, especially because people often use it as leverage if they’re not happy with something. I’ve worked in a restaurant and know exactly how much people can over-exagerate just to rant and make the review absolutely awful. But that aside, it can give you a good idea of which restaurants are good and in your budget.
- Relevant travel blogs
I always find it’s worthwhile to have a quick google of what I want information on with the word ‘blog’ added to the end. There are thousands of travel blogs out there and usually one will have written a post on what you want information on. A lot of travel blogs will focus on particular areas or types of travelling as their speciality. Find ones that you like
One of the best ways to save money when you’re booking things like flights and hotels online is to have an account with a cash-back website. Both HostelWorld and booking.com have permanent cash-back schemes when you book online. Set up an account with a cash-back website and make sure you go through the website before booking anything. You can’t always get cash-back instantly but after a couple of months you’re allowed to pay it out and if you use it every time it can build up.