Here are some amazing websites to help you plan your travel dreams!
(NOTE: Personally, I directly book tickets on the airline’s website. If something goes wrong with your flight or you miss your connection, then the airline can refuse to help you since you’ve purchased a ticket on a third party site. I’ve been delayed due to weather and mechanical issues more times than I can count. And don’t get me started on close connection calls! So, yeah, despite the occasional better price, I don’t risk booking on third party sites. It’s crappy, yes, but I’ve come to accept that I (alas) cannot change airline policies.)
Airfarewatchdog: Sign up for airfarewatchdog to receive alerts for great deals. Airlines tend not to advertise deals too much, but this site shoots you an email when low fares do happen.
Google Flights: I use google flights to check out the maps if I have no. clue. where I want to go for my next trip. You can do very generic searches. For example, you can type EWR or PHL as your departure airport and then EUROPE for your arrival airport. All prices for all major European airports will appear on the map, allowing you to see where the cheapest airport is located.
Skyscanner: Similar to google flights, use this app or website as a comparison tool for prices. It’s super user-friendly, and a great way to determine the best rates on flights.
ACCOMMODATION – HOSTELS
Hostelworld: I’m sure this website will surprise no one, ever. Hostelworld is a great resource to research hostels (obviously), guesthouses, budget hotels, and affordable bnbs. The review system is stellar, but actually take time to READ reviews. You don’t want to book a place that has a 95% rating and then find out that it’s a rockin’ party hostel instead of a quiet getaway.
Hostelbookers: Even though “hostelworld” is my “go to” site for shared accommodation, I will still go here to compare reviews. Remember reviews are king. Read them all!
ACCOMMODATION – OTHER
Airbnb: Airbnb is great for a local experience. For example, you’re in Paris and want to immerse yourself in a neighborhood such as Le Marais or Montmartre. Rent an apartment! You can also rent apartments, bigger homes, and other quirky properties. You may rent shared space with the owner or the entire place. Although certain cities are questioning the legality of Airbnb (like … oh … NYC), give this website a shot!
Booking.com: I use this website for finding hotels. The reviews are a valuable resource, and the search filters can help you find exactly what services you want.
Couchsurfing: Stay with locals in the destination of your choice. While I’ve never actually stayed with anyone, I love this site for finding events and meeting people. Most of the time you can interact with great locals who want to explore their home city with you. Be picky, however, and use your instincts.
BOOKISH TRAVEL DELIGHTS
Literary Tourist: A guide to awesome literary sites, tours, and events around the world. This extensive database allows you to sort by month and destination, and it can even help you plan your lit-filled route! Definitely worth a visit.
Busabout: A famous “hop on, hop off” bus network that goes to many destinations – big and small – in Europe.
G Adventures: A popular company geared toward more independent and adventurous travelers. G Adventures values small groups, local travel, and authentic experiences. I went with them to Canada, and had a fantastic time! Highly recommended.
Intrepid Travel: A company similar to G Adventures. I haven’t been on an Intrepid Tour (yet!) but Amanda from A Dangerous Business has written detailed reviews about quite a few of their tours. Worth checking out!
Haggis Adventures: Award-winning budget tours of Scotland and England.
Shamrocker Budget Adventures: More award-winning budget tours of Ireland.
World Nomads: First of all, always buy travel insurance. No, I’m not being a paranoid hypochondriac like I normally am. You need travel insurance. Trust me. Right now, I use World Nomads and have never had an issue. Their price is certainly right.