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The Best Travel Websites: Top Resources for Budget Travelers
Travel is exciting and incredibly rewarding, but planning is difficult and often very time consuming. These websites are all designed to make your life easier by reducing the amount of planning you need to do, or by saving you some money.
Rome2Rio is a quick and easy way to discover all the ways to travel in between two places. It gives you the method, the company, and an estimated cost (often not entirely accurate) and it also estimates how much time the journey will take.
No more messing around trying to find out if trains or buses exist, find out with the click of a button! This is perfect for long term travelers trying to find out how to get to their next destination while on the go.
If you're traveling with a smart phone (don't forget to make sure global roaming is off unless you fancy paying thousands of dollars to your phone company) or tablet, take a minute to download the Google Maps app. This lets you see maps of cities all around the world, and you can even download them so you can view the maps when not connected to the internet. This, combined with a GPS feature is incredibly useful.
If you turn GPS on (no internet connection or 3G is needed... my tablet has neither and can still do this), you can see on the map exactly where you are. If you've already looked up where the restaurant/hotel/whatever is, you can literally just watch your GPS dot on the screen and walk until it's where the point of interest is.
This is great in situations when you're at the right street but don't know which way to walk, or if street signs are nonexistent. Trust me, download this.
The Man in Seat 61
The Man in Seat 61 is a comprehensive guide to train travel in Europe. It gives information about the amenities you can expect to find on different types of trains, the approximate cost, alternative routes and how to buy tickets (some countries have TERRIBLE online booking systems).
This website will give you all the information you need to know in regards to train travel quickly, as well as tips and tricks to help you have the smoothest journey possible.
If you're staying in hostels, you undoubtedly know about either one or both of the major hostel-booking websites: Hostelbookers and Hostelworld. However, there's often something to be gained from comparing the two. They can have different prices for the same hostel.
Hostelz lets you compare them. You type in the city and dates, it will list hostels on either (or both) of the websites. Keep in mind it's not perfect: for some reason it doesn't seem to pick up on every hostel on the websites. So if you don't find anything satisfactory on Hostelz, check the two individual sites as they may have hostels available that Hostelz didn't list.
Think of Tripadvisor like your cheap guidebook if you don't want to buy one. By sorting the attractions in a particular city by ratings, you can quickly find most of the main tourist attractions in a city. The existence of travel guides for many destinations as well (such as '[city] off the beaten path', '[city] in three days', '[city] for kids') can also be very helpful.
If you choose to write reviews of all the accommodation, restaurants and attractions you visit, it can also be a record of exactly what you did- you'll never forget!
Couchsurfing is an alternative way to travel for those on a shoestring budget who want to meet locals at the places they visit. The idea is you stay at somebody's home for a couple of nights, free of charge, and spend some time with your host, perhaps sightseeing, or you might have a meal with them or drinks with their friends. Your lodgings could range from a spare bedroom to a spot on the floor, it will usually say on the profile so you know what you're getting yourself into.
Flights, in particular long haul ones, are usually the biggest lump-sum expenses when traveling. It's definitely worth doing your research here, as a good deal on a flight can save you hundreds of dollars.
Flightfox is a unique concept that lets you outsource that work to others. The way it works is you create a competition to find the lowest fare from x to y on a particular date (or if you're flexible on dates you can incorporate that too), offering a reward of money to the person who finds you the best deal. People will then compete for said reward. The people participating on this website are experienced at finding good deals and know tips and tricks it isn't worth learning for just one flight.
They can potentially save you hundreds of dollars, and if they don't, no worries! If you manage to find a flight cheaper or the same price as the best competition entry, they guarantee you get your money back. I personally tried this website and needed a refund because I had spent a lot of time looking for my flight and found a better deal, and can tell you that getting my money back was no hassle at all.
Wikitravel and Wikivoyage
Wikivoyage is a brilliant travel resource, especially for those who choose to forgo buying a guidebook. A city's page typically includes all information you need to know, including an overview, public transport info, attraction highlights, nightlife and restaurants.
Wikitravel is a similar website, but is not updated as often.