The internet is excessively full of travel sites (I guess that puts us on the list, too). Twenty different sites may offer you the same thing and promise you the best price. It’s hard to figure out which site is going to give you the best information and the best deal. We’ve figured out which sites work the best for us and continue to revisit them for all of our travel needs.
Here are the travel websites we use the most:
Planning where to stay
Hostel World aggregates reputable hostels around the world into one convenient location. It
shows prices, amenities, reviews, photos, and location in a user-friendly format. The homepage also has helpful articles to help you discover new locations and build your itinerary. When booking through hostel world, more often than not, you can only place a deposit on your hostel. The rest is payable upon arrival. Read the fine print because many hostels prefer this payment in cash and will charge a 5-20% credit card processing fee. While Hostel World is a great tool, its prices aren’t always the best. When you find a perfect hostel, check out that hostel’s website and search for a better price.
If you have a larger budget or are traveling with friends, Airbnb is a great way to find a home away from home. When we started planning our trip, we made the mistake of assuming that Airbnb would always be more expensive. This is not the case. Depending on the city, a small but nice Airbnb in an awesome location can be 50-60 dollars per night. When split three ways, it often comes out cheaper per person than a 20 dollar hostel bed would be. Cheaper, more privacy, and more amenities? Yes please.
Planning how to get there
This is the first site we use when trying to get from point A to point B. It will tell you how to get from just about any two destinations in the world–no matter how far apart they are. It breaks the trip down by estimated cost and travel time. You can’t purchase tickets for your journey from the site, but it will provide links to sites where you can.
I was late to the party with Google Maps. I stuck with Apple Maps because it was just fine for what I was doing. What made me change my mind is the transit feature. Google maps has transit information built in, whereas Apple does not.
Google flights is my favorite site for finding flights. It shows a calendar list of prices, so if your travel dates are flexible, you can check the calendar to find the cheapest price. You can also use this feature with roundtrip tickets to find the best price for your entire journey. If you aren’t flying for a while, put a tracker on the flight to be notified as the price changes.
Kayak is our go to site when we have no idea what we’re doing. We used it in Iceland and Ireland to rent a car, something that at the age of 22 we’d never done before. The more we looked into Ireland, the more we realized that a lot of the small towns we wanted to stay in didn’t really have hostels or Airbnb’s available. We used Kayak to find some traditional BnB’s and hotels that stayed within our budget.
We are trying to make the most of a long trip on a budget. We keep track of where we are going, where we are staying, and how we are getting there using Google Sheets. This way we know how much money we are spending and where it’s going. We also use it to keep track of our visa requirements. We can only be in certain countries for certain amounts of time without a long term visa, so this helps us stay on track to travel legally. See how we set it up.
Planning what to do
I hate TripAdvisor’s interface and I never actually want to use it, but when trying to price out a restaurant, it’s great. We’ve noticed in Europe that many smaller restaurants and cafes don’t have a big online presence, so it’s difficult to check on prices ahead of time. TripAdvisor usually has a picture of the menu or more information on the average price of the dishes.
Knowing local customs
The three of us worked in the service industry and are therefore hyper-cognizant of tipping. We want to make sure we are tipping appropriately, but not overtipping because that’s bad on the budget and can come off as rude. Who To Tip alleviates this issue with aggregated data from over 80 countries to let you know what to tip everyone, from your server to your hair dresser in a new country.
Do you use any sites not mentioned? Let us know in the comments.