The world of travel planning has become a complex one. Back in the day the traveller / holiday maker basically had two options to get information: the bookstore and the travel agent.
Fast forward to the digital age and one can spend hours and hours researching the best hotel options / train connections / restaurants / things to do. I admit I sometimes get lost for ages in the world wide web just doing that, but I usually gravitate back to these resources that help me plan and book:
I still remember the first time I held a Lonely Planet guide book in my hands. A whole new world opened up for me that day at the age of 24 in a bookstore in London. You can travel the world independently?? Without having to have huge savings?? I was gobsmacked, excited and elated! And I have used Lonely Planet guides for my trips and travels ever since. I tried different guide book series, but always went back to LP. Carrying a guide book around might seen old fashioned to some people as you pretty much have all the information you never knew you needed on your smartphone, but I like the compactness of a guide book. Plus I love diving into the history, culture and food sections of the Lonely Planet guide books on long flights and train journeys.
One of my favourite feature of the books is the map highlighting the best sights of a country. That instant overview paired with suggested itineraries depending on the length of your stay is gold.
Those maps can also be found online on Lonely Planet’s website.
For more tricky travel issues such as up-to-date information on land border crossings I like to refer to Lonely Planet’s Thorntree forum
- Lonely Planet: www.lonelyplanet.com
- Thorntree: www.lonelyplanet.com/thorntree/welcome
My first choice for accommodation reservations is Booking.com. I like the generous cancellation policy for most hotels. Also their app is very user-friendly, in particular the feature that lets you display the address of your hotel address in the local language – a godsend when arriving in a new country without any command of the lingo.
I also use Airbnb quite frequently as you get to stay in more local areas and the tips your get from some of the owners are invaluable!
If you are after a bit of luxury, make sure to check Mr & Mrs Smith as well as iEscape to swoon over their listings which are absolutely divine.
- booking.com: www.booking.com
- Airbnb: www.airbnb.com
- Mr & Mrs Smith: www.mrandmrssmith.com
- iEscape: www.i-escape.com
Skyscanner is my go-to source to research flight connections. Flights can’t be booked directly through the them, but Skyscanner displays a list of bookable websites with all respective prices for each particular connection. It pays to have a look at the user ratings for those websites. Some of them are dreadful to deal with if you need to change / cancel a flight.
I usually find my connections on Skyscanner and book directly with the airline(s).
- Skyscanner: www.skyscanner.com
I pretty much use Rentalcars for all of my car hire bookings as they seem to cover most locations and their app is very user-friendly.
With most bookings Rentalcars offers the option to upgrade the insurance level for the car – an option I usually make use of as I have been stung by local insurance charges.
Using Rentalcar’s insurance upgrade alters the claims process: the local car hire company charges the user’s credit card for damages caused and Rentalcars refunds the money after. I recently had a claim – the refund process was simple and swift.
- Rentalcars: www.rentalcars.com
On the ground transportation
Taxi apps I use are Uber and Grab. The latter works very well in a number of South-East Asian countries.
Bahn.de is great for booking trains in Germany and Europe and I also like to refer to Seat 61.
- Uber: www.uber.com
- Grab: www.grab.com
- Bahn.de: www.bahn.de
- Seat 61: www.seat61.com
Travelling with a group? I highly recommend using Tricount to keep on top of shared costs and expenses. This handy little app lets everyone log whatever they spent for the whole group and the app calculates who owes what to whom. Multiple currencies are supported.
Not mentioning Tripadvisor in my list of resources would be wrong as I refer to it more often than not for restaurants and things to go.
- Tricount: www.tricount.com
- Tripadvisor: www.tripadvisor.com
The best resources however are the locals themselves or friends & family who have recently been to the place of interest. Nothing beats a personal recommendation!!