22 Apr The ultimate list of online travel planning resources as recommended by travelers
This is the second in a series of articles where real travelers share their stories and insights as to what they’ve done during their adventure experiences.
In the first article we created a list of more than 50 inspirational travel quotes on lessons learned while traveling which we hope has proved handy as well as providing plenty of food for thought.
In this article we’d like to present a wide selection of travel tools and travel resources that the pros use when planning their trips. We hope this resource will be valuable to anyone who’s planning their next lifetime journey and please feel free to send us a postcard and let us know how you get on.
From the household names to the unknown gems, there’s plenty to get excited about within the list below but before we get started let’s summarize and pick the most used travel planning resources as mentioned by travel bloggers.
Here we go!
Unsurprisingly – bloggers are the most used travel planning resource!
Travel bloggers always add inspiration and invaluable advice as well as providing first hand recommendations and specific reviews.
As we received so many answers relating to travel resources, we’ve grouped them into the following categories to make it easier to find what you’re looking for:
- Free online travel guides
- Cheap flight tickets and transportation services
- Accommodation and hotel booking websites
- Other travel planning tools and resources
Before we start, find an inspiration to travel: Travel Experiences by Tinggly
Free online travel guides
There are many travel planning resources online which provide the starting point when searching for specific information on various travel destinations.
As mentioned above, travel bloggers were picked as the most used resource when looking for travel information and inspiration. In our previous article you can find the list of more than 50 travel bloggers that share their own personal lessons which have been learned whilst traveling.
Check out the quotes below from some of the world’s most respected travel bloggers as to why they rely so heavily on their peers for travel advice.
Kasha from Lines of Escape:
When it comes to researching new destinations, I mostly rely on other travel blogs. What could be better than reading a post about a place written by someone who’s actually been there?
Jessie from Jessie on a Journey thinks the same:
To be honest, I prefer planning a trip without making plans. I may peruse travel blogs for inspiration – I put my favorite RSS feeds into an app called Newsify to have them merge together in a newspaper format – but other than that I really only research flights.
Casey from A Cruising Couple:
It’s actually travel blogs. Being travel bloggers ourselves this might sound a bit fake, but we have found blogs to be the number-one place to find up-to-date, insider travel information. We don’t always read blogs on a regular basis, but we do always turn to them as our number one online resource.
Cailin from Travel Yourself:
I wouldn’t say I have a favourite, I typically search a number of sites to find the best deal. It also depends on what part of the world that I am traveling to where I will search and what online resources I will use. Most often I will even use other travel bloggers, blogs for ideas and inspiration.
Nienke from The Travel Tester:
Over the last year I’ve met so many amazing travel bloggers from all over the world, that their websites are now the first place I will go for travel tips and inspiration. It’s the real people behind the stories, that have actually visited these places and can give me the tips I will not find in the guidebooks that attract me most.
Ilana from Ilana on the Road:
Before I travel I do intensive documentation, when necessary also going to the library and checking literary references if helpful. As I often do travel planning and consulting myself, I rather use various local resources and blogs, preferably in local languages that I know instead of big websites and particular online resources.
Camille from This American Girl:
Other blogs of course! Normally I Google a topic or destination along with the keyword “travel blog” and it brings up the best results. I find that blogs are the least biased, most up to date resources for travel information.
Trip Advisor was second in the list of most used travel planning resource as voted for by travellers and here’s why:
TripAdvisor is an all in one travel resource. Whether you need to find a hotel, things to do or a place to eat, this is every traveler’s’ number one planning website. Reviewed by Savi and Vid from Bruised Passports:
Tripadvisor – reviews don’t get more real than that! We love the fact that it’s real travellers leaving unbiased reviews.
Will from Going Awesome Places:
Although I have a bit of a love hate relationship with this, I have to say that I still use TripAdvisor the most when using it as a starting point for all of my trip planning. The reviews aren’t the be all and end all of planning as you really have to take what you say as a grain of salt. The goldmine is definitely in the forums though because real conversations happen there and you can find really good nuggets of information.
Deia from Nomad Wallet:
I like to go through TripAdvisor’s list of attractions to plan my trip. I spend way too much time reading the reviews, especially when I’m traveling to a place where I don’t speak the language. There are often some really useful, practical tips hidden in the most obscure reviews!
One of my main goals when I travel is to find things to do beyond the obvious. So I normally start with resources like WikiTravel and Wikipedia to get a good overview of the important things in a destination. Then I start to search for blog articles to try to find some different experiences people have had.
Travis Sherry from Extra Pack of Peanuts:
I tend not to do too much planning for travel, so it’s pretty basic. I use Wikitravel when I know nothing about a place to get a general idea.
Lonely Planet Thorn Tree travel forum is a community of independent travelers that share their tips and tricks on various travel topics. It’s the source that is checked by Kristin from Be My Travel Muse, Jonny from One Step 4 Ward, Jonathan from Life Part 2 and many other great bloggers that you can meet there.
I like using Traveldudes.org. This is a huge library of travel blog entries contributed by travel bloggers and travelers categorized by continent and country. If you are ever visiting a new country check out the posts on Traveldudes for where to eat, what to do, and what to see.
Melvin from Travel Dudes:
There are a few! Of course I use traveldudes.org, as so many travelers shared their travel experiences with us. But in the end it’s always about getting the mix of several sites.
State Travel Insurance provides a range of quick and easy options to suit your travel, including overseas cover, anywhere in New Zealand and annual multi-trip cover.
I enjoy browsing multiple websites – personal travel blogs and also trippy.com – a question and answer site.
At Luxury Travel Diary I hope to inspire people about new destinations and hotels as well as to tempt them back to the greatest luxury destinations (Capri, Gstaad, Cote D’Azur, St Barts).
I actually use EuropeUpClose.com to help plan my trips. There are articles about unique places to visit by writers who have been there. I read the hotel and dining revues and plan my trip incorporating those recommendations.
…if you’re in Southeast Asia, by far the best travel planning site is Travelfish.org.
Travel Noir is a digital publishing platform that creates tools and resources for the unconventional traveler. Founded by a Glamour Magazine award-winning entrepreneur, Travel Noire is a necessity in every traveler’s tool kit.
Nomadness Travel Tribe – is an invitation-only platform, where people share stories, advice, photos and conversation about their personal experiences around the world. Recommended by Bianca from Its All Bee:
My favourite travel planning resources are of course other blog sites and travel magazines like TravelNoir and Nomadness Tribe, which has over 10 000 travellers where you can ask questions and have a response in minutes. I am also quite organised and use my blog drafts to put down things that I would like to see, where I would like to eat in places I am planning on visiting. These all stay in drafts and easily accessible while adding or removing items on the list.
I always check out the Global Greeters Network to see if my destination has a Greeter program so that I can meet up with a local and learn about their neighbourhood.
I’m a big fan of Yelp for last-minute restaurant suggestions, though it certainly doesn’t replace wandering down a street and stumbling into an unexpected gem!
Zomato is another great resource worth visiting to get the best local restaurant reviews, available in 20 countries worldwide.
Budget Travel is a travel deals website that offers reviews, tips and advice on travel destinations.
Viator is a TripAdvisor company that offers the best local tours and activities worldwide.
Cheap flight tickets and transportation services
I love Skyscanner because I can put my origin location then set the destination to “Everywhere” to see which places are cheapest to fly, which can influence my decision.
Erin Bender from Travel With Bender:
It’s the first thing I use whenever I start planning a trip. Even when I’m not planning a trip I love the option to look for flights to Everywhere.
Jo from Indiana Jo:
I don’t know what I’d do without Skyscanner. Even though there are really amazing flight deals out there, having one site where I can quickly check and compare prices is invaluable. I usually start with a wide search – from country to country across the space of a month e.g. UK to Italy in May. That’s always been the best way to pick up super cheap deals.
Nellie from Wild Junket:
Skyscanner is my favorite flight search engine as it allows me to compare different sites (including budget airlines) and create alerts so I can keep track of airfares.
Kayak fare alerts are an awesome resource to snag the best deals when they pop up, if your dates are flexible.
SJ Begonja from Chasing the Donkey:
… you can’t beat Kayak to find the best flights prices. They email you the rates as they change so you can jump on a saving as soon as it hits.
Zippy from Champagne Living:
I’m a Kayak gal, I especially LOVE kayak.com/explore.
Rome2Rio, an amazing way to plan each step (and cost) of your transportation to even the most obscure places.
For keeping track of travel plans (flights and hotels), Tom and I both use TripIt Pro. Otherwise we’d never remember where we are going.
Says Victoria from Bridges and Balloons:
TripIt is also great for keeping things organised.
Mike Shubic from Mikes Road Trip:
Tripit helps me keep all of my travel plan information at the tip of my fingers. From times, dates, contact info to delayed flight notifications for airline, car to hotel reservations, everything is in one easy to navigate app.
We’re not that good at planning to be honest. We usually just wing it. Having said that, we love looking for flights on Momondo and tours on Viator!
Yvonne from Just Travelous:
I love to do my travel planning on the go, so I don’t do that much research before a trip. I mostly read other travel blogs for tips and inspiration and booking flights through Skyscanner or Momondo and accommodation through Booking.com or Agoda.
If you have a favorite airline or hotel chain, sign up for their email newsletters and get info on sales and packages straight to your inbox. You should also follow them on social media as a lot of companies tend to have flash sales that are only on Twitter or we’re seeing more deals that are mobile-only if they have an app, etc. My favorites are The Flight Deal and Airfarewatchdog.com for airline specials.
Airfarewatchdog.com is a bit similar to the above but always good to check before your trip.
I’m a seat snob and always looking for the best one with the most room in the highest class.
I love the website Man on Seat 61 for up to date railway information, it’s a really cool resource! Other than that, I normally just ask the locals for the best recommendations.
My Flights is a good iOS app which regularly checks your flight details with Amadeus and Sabre and notifies you if there are any changes to your flight times, seat selection, aircraft type etc.
Favorite travel planning resource is Google Flights. It tells me the lowest fare for every airport from any airport I choose. Great for seeing what the options are.
For flights I like Hipmunk, because they clearly organize your options by price and / or flight times.
Head for Points the UK’s largest frequent flyer website.
AwardWallet keeps track of your reward programs, such as your: frequent flyer miles, hotel and credit card points, in one convenient mobile app for your smartphone. Recommended by Raffles, editor at Head for Points:
For anyone redeeming airline or hotel loyalty points for a trip, a visit to my own site Head for Points will open your eyes to the best way to maximise your miles and points. To manage all of my frequent flyer and hotel loyalty accounts, I swear by Award Wallet which tracks your balances in real time.
And do not forget to check websites of budget airlines as well.
Accommodation and hotel booking websites
I use TripAdvisor to research hotels but always book with Booking.com.
Insight by Jonathan from Life Part 2:
I will usually use the sites for research, then whenever possible, go directly the the hotel’s website.
Danik from Danik the Explorer:
I also double check prices for find better accommodation at around the same prices with Booking.com (I always look around first).
When it comes to planning my travels online I like to use websites that are easy to navigate and help with costs. Yonderbound and Airbnb have both been helpful at finding cheap accommodation. I also like to follow a lot of my fellow travel bloggers so I can get an idea of what they experienced.
Yonderbound tries to change how hotel reviews are being made. From now on people who make hotel reviews can earn money. It’s fair enough and well worth following this company. Recommended by SJ Begonja from Chasing the Donkey:
I love to use the new service of Yonderbound. While they are still growing, it’s great to connect with other travelers and see what recommendations they have for the areas I am planning to travel to.
I love using Couchsurfing for their city-specific forums. I let locals and other travelers know where/when I’ll be in town and try to plan a meetup.
Hostelz.com offers hostel reviews and the ability to search multiple booking websites at once (including Hostelworld and Booking.com)
At Luxury Travel Diary I hope to inspire people about new destinations and hotels as well as to tempt them back to the greatest luxury destinations (Capri, Gstaad, Cote D’Azur, St Barts) and I use my knowledge from years of travelling and websites like HotelChatter to find out about any hotel openings I may have missed.
… if I need a hostel this is my first port of call, checking out the deals and rooms available in the area I am staying in / heading to.
Other travel planning tools and resources
It may shock most people, but I find it is one of the best tools out there for getting an overview of a city and/or destination. It also provides more in-depth profiles on many of the key sites, their history, and an insight into both the historic and modern incarnations of a city or famous site.
I use Google Maps fervently when planning trip to plan out routes, look at distances and travel times, and to figure out visually what will be near me. It’s by far my most used travel app.
Tina from Lunch for One:
… not only to figure out how to get from A to B but to check out if there is a church next to my hotel, how the area looks…
If I need to name one, I guess it would be Google. I don’t really use some kind of planning app, but I use Google Search every day to search for information on destinations and to find the best places to visit. Google Maps is incredibly useful for navigating your destination. and I use Google Images to find the best angles to take that awesome photo.
Sarah from Family Travel Times:
We always Google where we are going and find articles, whether from blogs or newspapers. As we are a family who travels, we especially like pieces from fellow family travellers.
Lauren from Never Ending Footsteps:
I actually try not to plan too much and if I do, it’s usually through a general Google search rather than any specific site.
Natalie from Turkish Travel Blog:
To be honest, I hardly ever plan. My travels are confined to the country of Turkey so I already have a good idea of food to eat, budgeting, booking hotels, using the country wide bus system etc. The only thing I do plan is what to see and do in the destination I am going to, in which case I use Google search so I can get information from a number of sources.
I’m a big fan of Trail Wallet, which allows me to track my expenses in real time, categorize them, and align them with my projected budget.
Official country tourism websites and Facebook pages – check before you leave, you might find valuable information. Tip shared by Jonny from Don’t Stop Living.
… my other favourite site mainly for currency exchange prices etc is www.xe.com – always live and correct.
Pinterest is used mainly for inspiration.
Instagram makes a perfect tool to meet and be inspired by people who travel and share their experiences.
There are more choices of course, but this list should cover everything you might need we believe. Enjoy your travels and do not forget to talk to the locals as Marysia from My Travel Affairs does:
I do not plan my travels, I always go with the flow, just buy a ticket and book first night in the hotel after landing… I buy a paper guide which I do not read until being in the plane. I always makes plans as I go, those are often influenced by conversations with locals.
What is your favorite? Do you know another great travel tool or service that’s worth mentioning? Please drop us a message or leave a comment below.
Happy travels with Tinggly Gift Experiences!