Travel Planning Resources That I Actually Use
There’s a lot that goes into travel planning. I’m not gonna lie, it’s hours and hours of research sometimes, especially when you’re planning for yourself or even for the rest of your group. But hey, I enjoy the process! If you’re looking to really streamline the travel planning process, I’ve compiled a list of my most useful budget travel planning resources for you. I’ve been using some of these for over 5 years and they continue to be useful to this day. Trust me, these resources will help you save a lot of time and heaps of cash along the way!
Please note: This page contains affiliate links. You won’t be paying a cent more for any of the services you choose, but the small affiliate commission I receive will help keep the content coming to you. Thanks!
Momondo | Whenever I begin looking for flights, Momondo is always Step #1 or 2. It’s the most user-friendly among all the airfare search sites. So much information is provided when you search, such as the best options for the cheapest, fastest or best overall flight options. It’ll also allow you to compare their flight prices to the prices of other aggregate airfare search sites so you know you’re getting the best deal.
Scott’s Cheap Flights | The best travel email subscription ever. Get notifications whenever there are mistake fares or extreme sales on flights, right to your inbox. Scott– whoever you are, I don’t know you, but what would I do without you…
The Flight Deal | My go-to flight sale site when I want to browse for places to go. They have an email subscription as well.
Secret Flying | I’ll check out this flight deal site every once in a while. Very similar to The Flight Deal. It’s awesome because it allows you to filter by departing city, destination, or both, as well as your travel timeframe.
Priority Pass | Before heading to any airport, I’ll always check for the presence of airport lounges that I have access to through my Priority Pass membership. This membership buys you access to a ton of airport lounges around the world that offer meals, drinks (including alcohol), showers, comfy sofas, private wifi, and even $28 dining credit per person at participating restaurants. Must-have.
Rome2Rio | My go-to transportation resource when I’m already traveling. Rome2Rio is a super useful tool when you have absolutely no idea how to get around between cities, between countries, or even between continents. Discover how to get anywhere by plane, train, bus, ferry & car– as well as an estimate of how much it’ll cost you. Trust me, this is a really powerful tool for getting all your travel options displayed in one place.
The Man In Seat Sixty-One | Useful for planning ground transportation across Europe. Don’t know where to start? Well, the site breaks down your train options extremely well. Enter your starting city and he’ll show you where you can go by train. Tip: Take advantage of those overnight trains– a very cheap and comfortable way to travel!
BlaBlaCar | BlaBlaCar connects drivers with empty seats and people who are looking for a ride. It’s like an online marketplace for trusted carpooling/hitchhiking, only not dangerous. Need to find a way to your next city? Need to get somewhere remote (national park, beach, an attraction outside of the city) but don’t have a car? Use this site to search for people, then buy a seat in their car.
Seat Guru | Use it when you’d like to know which seats on an airplane are your best or worst options.
Booking.com | Honestly, this is my go-to accommodation booking site. They have free cancellation which is huge, and amazing abilities to filter accommodation options by rating and price. It shaved off so many hours of endless research for me and has made booking hostels and hotels a breeze. They even have apartments for rent on there now.
Airbnb | Airbnb is all about the local experience for me. I love how the houses are often in quieter neighborhoods away from the hoards of tourists. I also use it for those solo travel moments when I’d like a little more privacy than a hostel, but I’m not willing to pay for an actual hotel (which is most of the time). It’s also great for booking homes for larger group vacations. Who doesn’t want a full kitchen, living room, and backyard to lounge in? [New to Airbnb? Sign up here for $30 off your first booking.]
Couchsurfing | The idea behind Couchsurfing is simple: “couchsurfers” leverage the hospitality of friendly people around the world who open their homes to travelers. There’s an extensive worldwide network of people on there that often just get together for social events (without the couch surfing part). It’s a great way to meet other like-minded travelers. I’ve only used Couchsurfing a handful of times, but I’ve had very good, totally non-creepy experiences. I’ve also met a lot of other female travelers who’ve had nothing but good things to say about their experiences as well.
Trusted Housesitters | Don’t spend a dime on lodging and accommodation while traveling. This is such a great way to exchange your service for a place to stay while traveling! If you don’t know what housesitting is, it is an exchange in which a person (you) stays at someone’s home and cares for their pets and property while they are away. Usually, no money is exchanged between parties.
Workaway | A great way to save money on lodging if you’re going to be traveling for over a few weeks. Workaway is an international hospitality service that allows members to contact one another to organize homestays and cultural exchange. “Workawayers” will work a few hours of their day in exchange for lodging and food, which is provided by their host. I didn’t get the chance to use Workaway, but I have a membership with them and the work opportunities/exchanges look legit.
Hippo Help | Another work exchange site, smaller and newer than Workaway.
LuggageHero | Simply put, this service relieves the burden of carrying heavy bags around by allowing you to leave them in verified safe places for as long as you need. The company works in a similar way to Airbnb, allowing travelers to leave their luggage with participating ‘hosts’ for just 1€ per hour and max 8€/day. They’re a trustworthy service with locations throughout US, Europe, and Canada.
World Nomads | Travel insurance. I know there are a lot of insurance options out there, but in my opinion, World Nomads is the best travel insurance provider on the market. Be safe, get travel insurance.
Travel Advisories | Wondering if your travel destination is safe at the moment? As one of your first steps in planning any trip abroad, check the Travel Advisories for your destination.
CDC Traveler’s Health | Make sure you have the right immunization shots and the right meds for your trip. The last thing you want is to contract some preventable disease and have your health suffer while traveling.
Attractions / Things To Do
Viator | Whenever I’m looking for a formal day trip or tour, I use Viator. They have different tour company options and price points for the same trip, so you can choose what’s best for you. Enjoy savings of up to 50% off on worldwide tours, activities, and things to do
Culture Trip | Culture Trip provides me with tons of out-of-the-box ideas for things to do when I’m in a new destination. I’ll often use this to look up restaurants, things to do, and other local suggestions.
City Price Guides (The Savvy Backpacker) | This is an awesome website that gives you an estimate of how much you’re going to be spending in each European city. It’s great for the planning process, as it allows you to plan for how much money you’ll need to save up.
Travel Zoo | You can find travel deals on hotels, flights, vacation packages, cruises, and entertainment. Once in a while, I’ll check this site periodically to see if any new offerings jump out at me.
New to travel and don’t know where to start? Start here.
Looking for the top travel apps to download for your upcoming trip? Check them out here.
Looking for life hacking and money-saving resources? There’s a separate page for that here.
Subscribe to our monthly newsletter for the latest budgeting tips, travel-related discounts, and exclusive offers that are too good to post on the blog!