Budget 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!
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Travel Planning / Saving
Travel Prep / Packing
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.
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?
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.
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.
Money Saving Resources
Ebates | Ebates 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:
New to travel and don’t know where to start? Start here.