The Complete List Of Travel Planning Resources That I Actually Use
There’s a lot that goes into travel planning. I’m not going to sugar coat it—travel planning can result in hours and hours of research at times, especially if you’re planning for yourself or even for the rest of your group.
If you’re looking to really streamline the travel planning process, then you’re in the right place! I’ve compiled a list of my most useful budget travel planning resources for you. I’ve been using some of these for over 8 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 post may contain 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!
Useful Articles To Help You Plan Your Trip
Travel Planning / Saving
- 45+ Genius Travel Hacks: Your Guide To Saving Money While Traveling
- 13 Powerful Tips To Finding The Cheapest Flights Possible
- Where I Find The Best Travel Deals And Discounts
- 12 Ways to Save Money When You Think You Are Too Poor To Travel
- Money Saving Tips & Tricks
- 45 Brilliant Ways To Travel Europe On A Budget
- Japan On A Budget: 43 Ultimate Tips For An Affordable Vacation
Travel Prep / Packing
- Get These 25 Best Free Travel Apps For Your Next Trip
- 10 Things You’ll Need To Prepare Before Your Trip
- 10 Extremely Simple Ways To Beat Jet Lag Once And For All
- Top 10 Wallet Essentials: What’s In My Wallet When I Travel
- MINIMALIST TRAVEL – The Minimalist Traveler’s Guide to Packing
- HOT WEATHER TRAVEL – 30+ Travel Essentials for Hot Weather and Tropical Climates
- EXTENDED TRAVEL – The Ultimate Packing Checklist For 3 Months Of Travel
- ROAD TRIP TRAVEL – 45 Must-Have Road Trip Essentials For Your Next Road Trip
- CAMPING – The Ultimate Car Camping Packing List: 35 Must-Have Items
REI | REI is the gold standard when it comes to outdoor gear. They carry all the best brands for all things travel and outdoors including backpacks, running shoes, hiking boots, camping gear, etc. There is also the REI Outlet, where you can find really great discounts on the previous season’s gear. If you think you’ll shop there multiple times per year, get the REI Membership (a small one-time payment for a lifetime’s worth of benefits)!
Amazon | My second favorite place to buy travel gear when I’m in a pinch is on Amazon. If you need help stocking up on travel essentials, I’ve got your back! I’ve created a travel-related storefront just for you, featuring all my favorite travel essentials. Check it out here.
Travel Resources For Finding Cheap Flights
Google Flights | Whenever I begin looking for flights, Google Flights is always Step #1. 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 the flight prices between various airlines so you know you’re getting the best deal.
- Tip: If traveling domestically, also consider checking the Southwest website directly because Southwest flight prices are not pulled into Google Flights interface (they offer some really affordable flights and run sales a lot).
Going (previously 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… sign up for free alerts here!
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 grants you access to over 1,300 airport lounges around the world that offer meals, drinks (including alcohol), showers, comfy sofas, private wifi, and even $15-$28 meal vouchers at participating airport restaurants.
It’s definitely a must-have if you want that added airport comfort! It’s especially great for international travel and long layovers. Explore the lounges that are part of the Priority Pass program here.
Hopper | If you’re not sure if you’re getting the best price for a flight you want to book, Hopper can help with that. Hopper offers its signature price prediction technology to help you plan out when to book for the cheapest flights, hotels and rental cars. They now also offer travel protection options and price freeze to help you lock in the lowest possible price on hotels and flights.
ITA Matrix Airfare Search | ITA Matrix is a software that is, essentially, the holy grail of flight search tools, which is why many travel agencies and airline websites use it. Google Flights works off this software, but ITA can give more comprehensive search results.
Travel Resources For Ground Transportation / Train Travel
Omio | Omio is a very user-friendly search engine that lets you compare and book train, bus, and flight tickets–anywhere in Europe! Typical train websites are clunky and hard to use… with Omio, you can easily book tickets with your credit card at essentially the same prices as Europe’s National Railways websites. Omio also has an app so all your tickets can be downloaded digitally to your smartphone. No more printing required!
Rome2Rio | This is my go-to transportation resource when I’m already traveling and need to figure out how to get from point A to point B. Rome2Rio is a super useful tool when you have absolutely no idea how to get around between cities, between countries, or even between continents! Simply type in your starting point and destination and it’ll show you how to get there 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.
Rentalcars.com | Need to book a rental car somewhere in the world? If you are the type to compare prices between rental car companies as I am, use Rentalcars.com’s rental car search. Their comparison tool does the homework for you, so there’s no need to have a million tabs up trying to figure out which company provides the best price. Oh, and did I mention no cancellation fees? Amazing.
Tip: If you’ve ever used Priceline’s rental car search tool, Rentalcars.com is the same search engine! Clean and easy to use!
Costco Travel | If you have a Costco membership, you can also find great deals on rental cars through Costco Travel. Surprisingly, the rental car prices on Costco Travel are very competitive and sometimes even the lowest I can find!
Booking.com Airport Taxi | If you are going to places where ridesharing is not legal (such as in Cancun and the Yucatan Peninsula), your options for getting around are limited to public transportation, taxi, or private transfer. Taxis are expensive and public transportation can be too inconvenient. Private transfers are the way we like to travel! We love using Booking.com for airport-to-hotel transportation. The vehicles are as affordable as they are comfortable!
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!
Seat Guru | Seat Guru is for the flight nerds who want to understand everything about their flight, down to the type of seat they’re getting. Use it when you’d like to know which seats on an airplane are your best or worst options.
BlaBlaCar | Need to catch a ride from point A to point B but want to save some money along the way? BlaBlaCar is a ridesharing website that lets you share rides with vetted local drivers by pitching in for gas. You’ll just request a seat in someone’s published ride, and once they approve, off you go! It’s a super neat way to get around Europe.
Travel Resources For Finding Hotels/Accommodations
Booking.com | This is my go-to accommodation booking site. This site has free cancellation and no prepayment required on reservations which is huge. It also has amazing abilities to filter accommodation options by rating and price.
Honestly, it’s shaved off so many hours of endless research for me and has made booking hotels and other accommodations a breeze. It even has apartments / vacation homes for rent on there now!
What I like to do to filter down options and expose the best value for money options:
- throw on a filter of Review Score: 9+
- then sort by Lowest Price First
- if no decent results that fit your budget, lower the Review Score to 8+
Agoda | Agoda is my favorite site for booking apartments, villas, and hostels in Asia. Based in Singapore, Agoda naturally has an extensive presence in Asian countries, but they do offer lodgings worldwide. Aside from their great prices, they’ll sometimes have additional deals from time to time, so be sure to check out their deals page before booking!
VRBO | VRBO is all about the local experience for me. I love how the houses are often in quieter neighborhoods away from the hoards of tourists. VRBO is also great for booking homes for larger group vacations. Who doesn’t want a full kitchen, living room, and backyard to lounge in? Often, you can find entire villas, homes, and condo rentals that fit anywhere from 2 to 16 people for the same price as hotel rooms.
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 | Traveling on a budget? Don’t want to spend a dime on lodging and accommodation while traveling? Trusted Housesitters is such a great way to exchange your services for a place to stay while traveling. If you don’t know what housesitting is–it’s where you exchange your time, care, and expertise for interesting homestays and unique travel experiences around the world. You’ll care for their pets and property while they are away, and be able to stay at someone’s home completely free of charge! Quick note, you do need a membership to take advantage of the service.
- Limited time offer: Get $10 off a TrustedHousesitter Membership with code THS10
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.
Luggage Services While Traveling
LuggageHero | Have you ever found yourself in a pickle when your hotel check-out time is way sooner than your departing flight time? Yet you still want to explore the city before you leave? Well, LuggageHero fills that gap. 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.
SafetyWing | SafetyWing is a travel insurance provider. I know there are a lot of insurance options out there, but in my opinion, this is one of the best travel insurance providers on the market. This is a very solid budget-friendly option if you’re just looking for insurance coverage in case of an emergency abroad. Good for those looking for more basic coverage.
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.
Resources For Attractions / Things To Do
Viator | Whenever I’m looking for a formal day trip, excursion, or tour, I go with Viator. No matter what you are looking for, whether it be a snorkeling tour, a food walking tour, or a combo destination day trip—you’ll find that they have different tour company options and price points for the same trip, so you can choose what’s best for you.
Go City | Go City offers great value-for-the-money attraction passes in various destinations around the world (including Bangkok, Amsterdam, Barcelona, Chicago, San Francisco, Oahu, Paris and much more). These digital attraction passes provide free admission to popular museums and excursions within a city. With certain excursions, you’re even able to skip the line, saving you both money and time! Whenever I want to play tourist in a city, I always check to see if Go City operates in that city. The money you can save with this pass (as opposed to buying admission tickets for various attractions separately) is unreal!
DEAL ALERT: For a limited time, use the above link + the promo code AFFGOALL for an additional 5% off your Go City pass. This code is valid for any Go City pass in any destination!
CityPass | CityPass is like Go City, except they specialize in North American destinations (Atlanta, Boston, Chicago, Dallas, Denver, Houston, New York, Orlando, Philadelphia, San Diego, San Francisco, Seattle, etc). It’ll grant you admission to the most popular attractions in each city and are priced up to 50% less than the combined regular price of admissions. Definitely a great money-saving pass if you are someone who loves major attractions and museums!
Roadtrippers | If you’re planning a road trip and want to discover new attractions along the way, use Roadtrippers while planning your road trip itinerary! They also have an app, which is especially useful for finding interesting and off-the-beaten-path roadside attractions, cool restaurants, and can’t-miss landmarks you can bookmark.
Culture Trip | Culture Trip is a great travel content site that 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. What I love most about it is that their posts recommend ideas outside of the norm and are often written from a local’s perspective!
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 | On Travel Zoo, you can find discounted 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. This site is great for travelers looking for travel packages. That way you won’t need to plan out every single logistic under the sky—a good amount will be done for you!
Intrepid Travel | Ever wanted to go on an adventure but have no one to go with? Enter Intrepid Travel. Intrepid is the world’s largest provider of adventure travel experiences! I love Intrepid Travel because they curate truly immersive itineraries for smaller groups, led by local guides that’ll deepen your experience that much more. They are all about sustainable, experience-rich travel and there’s nothing overly touristy about their itineraries! Highly recommend.
Other Useful Travel Apps
XE Currency Converter | This mobile app quickly provides live, up-to-the-minute currency rates, then allows you to store and view them even when you’re offline. You’ll never need to wonder again if you’re really getting a good deal in another country.
Google Translate | On your travels, you may find yourself in a small town or region where no one speaks a lick of English. This is where Google Translate helps to save the day! This translation app that allows you to do it all — translate into 108 languages by typing, access 59 languages offline (this feature is the most useful in my opinion), translate via photo, translate bilingual conversations, and even use the handwriting tool to translate languages.
TheFork | TheFork is one of the most useful resources for making restaurant reservations in Europe. Similar to OpenTable or Resy, you can browse different restaurants by category and actually make reservations. TheFork is available mostly in Europe, Brazil, and Australia. The biggest perk? Many restaurant reservations come with discounts — in some cases, you can get up to 50% off your meal just by reserving a table through TheFork.
General Money Saving Resources
Ebates (Rakuten)| Ebates (now Rakuten) offers you cash back at over 2,000 stores whenever you begin your shopping experience through their website/portal. I’ve saved over $500 by using their site since I’ve joined in 2011 (that may not sound like much, but I’m also not a big online shopper). Every little bit counts!
Swagbucks | Swagbucks will reward members with free gift cards and cash for the everyday things they already do. They sometimes offer huge bonuses for completing one of their special offers (such as signing up for food subscription services that you can cancel later on– I’m guilty of doing this plenty of times). And to top it all off, the rewards don’t suck. I always exchange my Swagbucks for Amazon gift cards.
The Ultimate Travel Hacking Guide | I used this way back in the day to familiarize myself with the world and possibilities of travel hacking and travel credit cards. It’s got tons of intro and intermediate information to get the ball rolling if you’re new to the game.
The Points Guy | He’s the credit card points king. Seriously, if you need any sort of information on credit cards, travel hacking, earning and spending points, he’s the one to go to.
Evreward | I use this site whenever I’m about to make an online purchase but don’t know which cash back or points system will result in the highest rewards. Evreward compares all the major points programs and cashback sites and lets you know which payouts are best.
Like-A-Coupon | They’re an email subscription service that sends you the best deals from around the web. Content can range from free food, free movie tickets, “spend $X and get $X gift card from Amazon”, steeply discounted items, etc. I’m not exactly sure how I started receiving these emails, but the deals are super legit and up to date so I’ve kept them around.
Slickdeals | Slickdeals is a huge deal-sharing site and forum which you should check on a regular basis if you are on the prowl for discounts. Almost all the best deals out there for just about anything show up on Slickdeals first.
Goldstar | Goldstar offers discount tickets for theatre, comedy, sports, festivals, tours, spa, museums, and other attractions in several metropolitan areas in the United States. If you’re looking to attend a show, check to see if there’s a discounted rate here first!
The Penny Hoarder | I love browsing The Penny Hoarder for budgeting inspiration! This is what I’ll do instead of reading up on celebrity tabloids… I’m out of the loop on a lot of things these days.
Gas Buddy | Discover, by list or map view, where to find the best prices on gas wherever you are. GasBuddy provides historical gas price data so you can make sure you’re getting the best price every time.
Poshmark | A social way to sell fashion for men, women, and children. Poshmark is like an Ebay, but most of it is all clothes. Simply take pictures of your unwanted clothes, provide a brief description, set your price, and share your listings with the Poshmark community. You’re also able to sell sportswear, makeup and “boutique”/wholesale items on here.
ThredUp | An online consignment store for women and children. Instead of donating your children’s outgrown clothing, you can sell it on ThredUp for cash. If you need to buy clothes, why not buy used? This will allow you to minimize clothing costs. The nice part is, they also take returns. If you want to return an item they will refund you within 30 days.
Supercook | If you have a bunch of random ingredients in your kitchen but have no clue what to make with it all, use this site! List all of the ingredients you have and Supercook will spit back a list of recipes from popular cooking websites that use those items. Definitely saves money since you don’t have to toss unused groceries or buy new ones.
Check out my best tips on how to save money for travel: