The Internet has completely changed the way we travel; you can access so much more information, that travelers are able to arm themselves with staggering amounts of knowledge before their voyage and prepare nearly everything. However, the vast quantity of information can be overwhelming! Here’s a few great websites to get you on track:
Kayak is great for booking hotels, flights, and cars. It shows the best deals so you don’t have to compare prices. In our opinion, the best part of Kayak is the flight search. There are lots of filter options so you can book a flight that works best for you. For example; you can filter the amount of stops in your trip, how long the layovers are, include or exclude certain airports – all the while showing the cheapest deals first. In addition, you can get weekly, daily, or custom price alerts emailed to you to show when prices drop for the city you want to travel to.
Hipmunk allows you to search for flights and hotels – but its best feature is the hotel search. You can search for hotels, hostels, apartments, and private rooms and compile options from Airbnb and other local lodging. You’re also able to filter for price, rating, and stars, and/or specific hotels. Being able to compare Airbnbs, hotels and hostels all in the same place is amazing. It’s common to think that Airbnb and hostels are cheaper than hotels, but sometimes this isn’t the case. We love Airbnb and often do find it cheaper, but there have been a few times we’ve gotten suckered into that idea and ended up paying more than we would for a normal hotel, so being able to see everything all in one place is a game-changer.
3. Google Maps
Before booking any accommodations, the first step should always be Google Maps. You need to know how far away your hotel is from the airport, from the sites you want to see, from your friend who lives in the area, or from whatever reason you have for travelling! Knowing the distance allows you to pick a place close enough to whatever you want, and allows you to plan if you’ll be able to save money walking places, or paying for cabs. It lets you know how much time you’ll need to get from point A to B, so you can decide if that day includes a point C or D as well. Google Maps is really the foundation of your planning. Additionally, if you’re directionally challenged it helps you navigate. With the street view option, you can virtually familiarize yourself with the street you’ll be walking – which is great planning and preparation, but also great for daydreaming about your vacation.
Numbeo is a site dedicated to comparing cost of living. You can input your current city and the city you’re travelling to and see the price difference in everyday things. It shows both the dollar amounts of both cities and the percentage difference (so you don’t have to do the math). Cost of living comparison prepares you for what to expect and allows you to properly budget. It shows generic comparisons for things like groceries, rent, and restaurants and also detailed comparisons for individual items like milk, bus passes, movie tickets, beer, and gas.
TripAdvisor is the best site for planning what to do on your trip. It does show flights and hotels (who knew??) but the best part of TripAdvisor are the “restaurants” and “things to do” sections. You can sort by type of activity (indoor, outdoor, parks, events, tours, food, and many more), and types of food for restaurants. Every option shows ratings and comments from other users so you can pick the best adventure. It also lists the addresses so you can easily navigate there. If your Facebook friends have visited or rated a place, it will show you their rating first so you can get trusted advice. It’s a great place to start planning activities and getting ideas for your vacation.
6. Rick Steves
Rick Steves (named after its founder) is a great website for the education and culture driven traveler. Essentially, it’s an extensive and detailed guidebook with a European focus. The site offers tons of tips, recommended itineraries, basic (but important) information about the place, suggestions, and vlogs reviewing different adventures in nearly every European country. Rick Steves also offers its own tours that you can book through the site. You’ll have access to tons of cultural tour suggestions and information. The focus is education – it’s not for spring break parties. It’s perfect for travelers who want to learn about the culture, history, and religion of the country or city they’re traveling to. Whether you’re a history buff or not, Rick Steve’s will help you make your trip meaningful and educational. It’s a great website to fuel your wanderlust before a trip. Mr. Steves himself is also known for his longtime PBS travel documentary – which you can get a taste of from the video above.
Stay on top of your trip on the go with the best travel apps.
Written by Megan Cary.
Stay informed. Stay Current.