After visiting over 50 countries, I decided to sit down and try to share some of my travel expertise in a more serious and structured way than Instagram stories and Facebook posts. Lots of my friends get frustrated in the initial stages of trip planning—’where to go?’, ‘when to go?’, ‘what to see?’, etc. Well, I have a similar confusion every time I need to plan the upcoming trip, but now I have some sources that I trust as I used them lots of times. So, ladies and gents, let me introduce you to my top five travel websites that have become my best friends when it comes to trip planning.
1. Kiwi.com (https://www.kiwi.com/)
Once you have decided where to go and when, time to book your flight. Or maybe your friend has just PMed you “Hey, what about a week in Greece?” So, let’s book a flight. Here comes the sun…oops, the Kiwi (formerly SkyPicker). It’s one of my favourite fare aggregators and booking services for airline tickets. Why so? Well, first of all, I like its simple design. Secondly, besides exact departure and arrival points, you can choose the entire country or a radius from your place (aka 200 km around Amsterdam). This way, you can see more flight deals with one click. Kiwi also offers a unique feature called “virtual interlining.” It means that the site sells you combined flight itineraries for ordinarily non-cooperating airlines, and Kiwi.com provides a guarantee for covering missed connections. Amazing, right?
2. Booking.com (https://www.booking.com/)
Now we know where we are going, our flight dates, so time to book a place to stay. There are lots of excellent services, and so far Booking.com is my favourite as it offers hotels, hostels, and private apartments. Also, I like its free cancellation policy in most countries. It’s also convenient regarding language—the site is available in over 40 languages! So no need to be lost in translation :) This year I gave up and started using the Booking.com app as I found it more convenient for on-the-go accommodation booking.
3. Lonely Planet (https://www.lonelyplanet.com/)
The next thing I do, I choose what to see in the cities/countries I’m heading to. That’s when Lonely Planet comes in. I met its wonderful content via Lonely Planet guidebooks, but now I switched to be the website, sometimes still buying e-books. Here you’ll find most of the countries and their top places to visit with some practical info like opening hours, places to eat nearby, and even accommodation (in case you are so spontaneous). Some of my peers criticise people like me for relying on such popular travel guides, but, well, it has built its excellent reputation for a reason. So far, I loved Lonely Planet suggestions.
4. TripAdvisor (https://www.tripadvisor.com/)
Some people use TripAdvisor for booking, but I use this wonderful tool for finding the best restaurants and tours. Editorial content is nice, but trusting thousands of user reviews could be a smarter option. To be honest, I find their design a bit outdated, but the content is so valuable that I’m going to use TripAdvisor as long as they keep the reviews as their central point. Also, from time to time I use their forums to ask other travellers some specific questions or to find answers to already asked ones.
5. Rove.me – https://rove.me/
This website has a few aspects I find useful. The first one—the best time to visit destination x. Let’s say, I’ve always dreamt of visiting Iceland, but I’m puzzled when is it better to go there: summer or winter? Here comes RoveMe and helps me to decide based on experience rank (seasonal activities like whale watching, dog sledding, lupin blooming, and so on), weather rank, and popularity rank (the busier it gets, the pricier hotels are). The second aspect is to choose where to go at a given time. For example, your company tells you “Dude, you have two weeks off in November, so you either use them or not.” On RoveMe homepage you can pick your travel dates and see what places are best to visit in this time frame. The third aspect helps keep track of your travel wishlist: you can click a heart on each destination or seasonal experience, and these items are added to your travel wishlist, so you can revisit it and get inspired for the next trip.