Having go-to travel resources, you can always rely on is always helpful when you travel a lot. Even if you don’t plan too heavily when mapping out your next adventure, there’s still all manner of research and preparation that has to be done before and during any trip.
Finding the Best Platforms and Websites for Trip Planning
Scrolling through travel resources, top tips lists and relevant booking websites can essentially be the boring element of travel, but you never know what useful information and money-saving tips you might stumble upon.
Whether it’s securing the best flight deals, planning train and bus journeys or looking into tours that cover more the trickier to travel destinations (or where you cannot travel to independently), these travel resources are my regular go-to information hubs for planning and booking everything that’s needed for great exploration.
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Small Adventure Group Tours
Sometimes, you don’t want to travel alone. While I’m rarely on group trips unless it’s necessary, tours are a great option should you be travelling to a destination that is tricky to navigate or a destination that doesn’t allow independent travel for particular nationalities. Or, if you are simply looking for others to enjoy the experience with. But which tour do you choose?
G Adventures – Tours with a Positive Social Impact
I’ve travelled with G Adventures since 2004 when I first visited Asia, and I used them for my big treks to Everest Base Camp and Kilimanjaro and places where tours are mandatory or necessary. I like their community ethos, the use of local guides, socially responsible travel practices, such as animal, indigenous and child welfare and giving back to community projects and charities.
You can find G Adventures reviews in the following articles on destinations where I took their trips.
G Adventures Peru review – Responsible travel in Peru and on the Inca Trail
G Adventures Kilimanjaro review – Lesmosho route and Serengeti safari
G Adventures Tibet review – Overland from Nepal
G Adventures Ecuador Amazon review – Local Living in the Amazon Rainforest
G Adventures Colombia review – Lost City Trek and Caribbean Coast
G Adventures Iran review – Discover Persia tour
G Adventures Egypt review – Egypt Upgraded trip
Dragoman – For Overlanding Adventures
Dragoman is one of the leading overland travel experts, and I travelled around Mongolia for three weeks with them. Their huge trucks are like transformers, opening out into lots of compartments that house tables, chairs, tents, and other storage – like a mobile home for the more adventurous. I highly recommend them for exploring more desolate and vast landscapes that would be hard to traverse solo.
Currently, they are pausing operations, ready to hit the ground running once they have recovered from the pandemic.
Travel Resources for Planning a Travel Trip
From visas to sightseeing highlights, airline rules and pre-booking, here’s my top pick of online travel planning tools.
The one essential element of pre-planning before arrival in any destination is to know whether you need to have a visa beforehand or whether you can get one on arrival. Project Visa is one of my top three go-to travel resources when planning my next trip – it lists the visa requirements of all countries, and also outlines where embassies for that particular country are all over the world, should you need to apply before arrival.
Fast becoming the new go-to travel resource over the trusty guidebooks, Wikitravel lists everything from must-see sites to decent accommodation, concisely and knowledgeably.
Everyone knows about Trip Advisor, and even though it was once known only as space for those wanting to vent their negative experiences, some elements of it, with a little digging, can be a comprehensive travel resource, ranking properties and attractions and hosting useful forums for discussion.
Hand Luggage Guides
From Emirates to EasyJet, hand luggage allowances vary from one flight carrier to the next. Expedia pulled together a very helpful hand luggage guide, where you to quickly check the exact sizes of the hand luggage and hold weights you’re able to carry on board a flight. I’ve been caught out a few times with my small suitcase, which has been OK in size for one flight carrier, but slightly too big for another.
This travel resource also allows you to determine which airline is the best value for money when it comes to the all-important inclusion of luggage allowance.
Overseas Attractions is a quick fix guide and booking service for local attractions in all regions of the world – a great resource should you be short on time for elaborate online searches or without a guidebook.
Sourcing the Best Travel Guides
I don’t use Lonely Planet Guidebooks religiously in every place, but I do use them for quick reference or to show a local when I need some direction. I’ve tried using PDFs but much prefer the print, especially since I use it a lot to call ahead for accommodation or the address and language translations. I buy mine from Amazon to score the best deals, but always keep an eye out on the Lonely Planet Publications website for sales.
Panda Guides for China
I was informed many times that the most popular print travel resources were not that useful for China travel, and I was correct. It is essential to have a backup when travelling here with all its frustrations. Panda Guides for China are in-depth guides written by local writers with easy to use maps, ‘Side Trips’ from major cities, exact breakdowns of how to get to each destination, alongside detailed pricing and timings. The extensive list of food dishes with Chinese characters is a handy addition.
Travel Resources for Booking Hostels and Hotels
Hostels, guesthouses, boutique apartments and hotels. The choice is endless, but here’s where I start my accommodation search.
I use Booking.com to search for deals on hotels, local guesthouses and hotels in areas where hostels and other ultra-cheap accommodation may not be as widespread. You can also browse accommodations according to preferences such as being near the main monuments and attractions, the beach or shopping districts, which I think is a nifty addition!
- Find the perfect hotel in your budget →
- Find apartments →
- Search for resorts →
- Book a villa →
- Find local B&Bs →
- Search for guest houses →
HostelWorld has always been my quick-fix travel resource for all hostel bookings. Although under the same umbrella company as Hostelbookers, I still look on both websites despite most of the properties being the same – because room allocation to each varies, what you may find is booked up on one may not be on the other.
For a long time, YHA Hostels carried with it the reputation of ‘traditional youth hostel’ while the majority of others market an independent niche, theme or boutique style. However, with a £25million investment, the face of YHA hostels across England and Wales is changing with creative makeovers to its range of buildings, castles, mansions and campsites.
I last stayed in the YHA London St Pancras and was pleasantly surprised. I got a private room right in the heart of London before an early flight – a cheaper and more sociable option than an airport hotel. Lounge spaces are funky, the atmosphere is now more inviting and the food is cheap and plentiful. The bedrooms are still rocking that ‘school trip’ hostel look, and I hope in time that changes, but as a hostel chain emerging from a years-old bland reputation, I highly recommend giving YHA a chance. I’m certainly more curious to see how more YHA offerings are across the country now.
Couchsurfing is a great travel resource for meeting people in new cities, since events and meetups are regularly listed, alongside general forums should you need any assistance. It’s worth having an account set up just for these things alone.
Websites for Working In Exchange for Free Accommodation
On the road for a long time and want to conserve funds? Consider working in exchange for free accommodation and some meals.
WWOOF’ing International links volunteers to organic farms and smallholdings where you can learn about ‘organic lifestyles’ in exchange for free food and accommodation. Each continent has its dedicated WWOOF (Willing Workers on Organic Farms) site that you need to sign up to, and lists an overview of the average minimum hours and how many opportunities are available.
Help Exchange is volunteer work in exchange for free accommodation and food on farms, backpacker hostels, lodges, horse stables and even sailing boats. It’s free to join and all you have to do is fill out a few simple infoboxes before searching for relevant job posts all over the world.
Thinking about getting a TEFL (Teaching English as a Foreign Language) qualification and using it on your travels to volunteer? A TEFL certification is a valuable skill, transferable in dozens of countries. Here’s what to know about using TEFL abroad for volunteering and everything you need to know to get started.
Travel Resources for Finding Cheap Flights
It’s worth searching for flights amongst multiple platforms to find the best deals, including cross-referencing the price directly on the flight operator website too. Here are my go-to flight search sites.
Skyscanner is my default flight search platform, mainly because the comparison tool for prices and timings is easy to use, and since I’ve always found great deals through them. The iPhone app is just as handy too.
Momondo compares over 700 flight sites for the best deals, and I use it alongside Skyscanner to check for the best prices. It also has a great blog resource for extra inspiration.
WhichBudget has been around for many years and was one of the first of its kind. After spending some time on the site I managed to find some similar flights deals to my other two go-to resources, with only small differences.
Opodo is another popular and well-established search engine for flights and is one of the multiple platforms I use to cross-reference deals before making a final decision. I’ve always heard about money-saving hacks for flights when booking on specific days of the week and months of the year and Opodo released a flight purchasing overview. It turns out booking a flight on Saturday can make you save you around 4%.
Travel Resources for Finding Cheap Rail Tickets
It’s always best to find out the best train ticket booking platform once you are in a destination, or head to the station directly to book tickets. However, there are some reliable information and booking platforms dedicated to train travel.
Worldwide Train Travel Tips: Seat61
Seat 61 is the ultimate train resource. This site has saved me on many occasions, especially in Asia, where language barriers have made finding out about train times and ticket bookings slightly difficult. The Man In Seat 61 details trains times for almost every destination and includes ferry timings and other useful transit information.
READ MORE: For further tips on Europe rail travel check out my Handy Tips For Travelling Through Europe By Train
Booking Trains in Europe: Omio
The great thing about Omio (formerly GoEuro) is that you can plan your trip across multiple transport platforms, including flights, trains and buses, in Europe. For example, following some time in Germany, I wanted to source the quickest and cheapest way to get to Istanbul. A quick search on Omio told me to get a train from Dresden (where I was) to Berlin and to take a flight from Berlin to Istanbul. This handy Europe travel resource saves you a LOT of time, working out the best overall route, listing the cheapest to most expensive and shortest and longest route options.
Booking Trains in the UK: Network Rail & Trainline
I use Network Rail mainly for the timetables since it lists all routes and timings for all the trains across the UK.
I then revert to The Trainline to make a booking since it lists advance ticket discounts and money saved on choosing alternative times.
Round The World Trip Planning and Booking
Here’s how you can book your RTW ticket and map out the optimal place to start and finish.
Round the World Experts
Round the World Experts (RTW Experts) offer travel planning, advice and booking services. They are a part of the Flight Centre, so a widely connected resource with outlets worldwide. RTW Experts have agents you can contact online. Normally, following a request, an agent will be assigned to you.
Travel Resources for Finding Comprehensive Travel Insurance
The most important thing you need to have with you while on the road, read about finding the best travel insurance, including the common misconceptions of policies, and the small print you might miss, then check out these top travel insurance providers.
Safety Wing is new to the travel insurance market and aims to build a global social welfare safety net. Alongside travel coverage, it also focuses on extensive medical travel insurance – a great option for those looking to work abroad or be in one place outside their home country for a period of time. Safety Wing’s other unique positioning is that it is made specifically for remote workers and digital nomads, where you don’t have to be on home turf to book your policy. Coverage policies are sold as 28-day auto-renewable subscriptions, with the option to cancel or pause at any time.
Covermore was my main insurance provider when I lived in the UK and the only insurance provider who agreed to renew my policy after one year while on the road. I was able to extend for a further six months – after that, I couldn’t. Covermore offers comprehensive coverage including personal items and electrical goods, as well as covering a huge list of adventure activities without a hideous excess charge.
Help With Buying Travel Gear / Travel Packing
I’m often asked about what I pack for long trips, my top recommendations for equipment and my favourite and trusted travel brands. Being on the road for so long has meant testing out many items to find my top picks and knowing exactly what to pack.
- For an extensive overview of what I pack for each trip, check out my list of best travel gear tried and tested over the past decade.
- Looking to stay connected on the road beyond buying local SIM cards? Check out my Travel Wifi Review.
Finding the Best Pre-Paid Cash Travel Cards
Don’t lose money on high interest rates and conversion fees when using your normal bank card abroad. Research the right pre-paid travel cash card for you, and which has the best rates at the time of applying.
Travelex Money Card
Travelex Travel Money Card was my first prepaid cash card as the rates were once lower, loading money onto it straight from my bank account. It’s a more secure way of withdrawing money abroad and you are only charged a flat usage fee on purchases, which is much better value than traditional Credit and Debit cards.
I then reverted to Caxton FX, which I’ve found is a lot easier to use, has an instant cash load function, allows you to switch currency balances easily and has an easier online user face. It remains a popular choice among travellers.
Money Supermarket is easy to navigate and use. I use this website for all manner of quick comparisons, from the best savings accounts and credit cards to comparing the best travel insurance deals. Ideal for setting up a savings account pre-travelling and being prepared financially when you are on the roads.
Travel Tips and Inspiration
Below are some travel resources I have written, or which I recommend, to help with saving, pre-planning and independent travel:
Travel and Money
Travel and Transport
Travel Advice & Top Tips
- The all-important conversation you might have to encounter.
- Prolonging travel because you think you can’t?
- Planning a solo female travel trip can be overwhelming and these tips will help
- Travel Insurance can be a wordy minefield, so how does it work in extreme circumstances?
- Looking for accommodation platform reviews?
- Looking for the perfect travel-themed gift for avid adventurers?