This page lists some of the travel resources we personally use to plan, book, and undertake our travels around the world.
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We have certainly got on board the Airbnb bandwagon. On our recent three-month European tour, the majority of our accommodation was found on Airbnb, all booked before we left home. As a group of five people, so-called hotel family rooms usually don’t fit us all meaning we would need two hotel rooms. An Airbnb house or apartment often works out cheaper, plus you get a place with plenty of space, the ability to self-cater and you are often in the suburbs and can get a local travel experience. As with any accommodation choice, we are avid review readers, which can give you a lot of valuable information, such as hints about locating the place, finding nearby places to eat and things to do, and may even have photos that are more realistic than those supplied by the hotel. Our process for finding the perfect place on Airbnb is to use the filters to select the home type, adjust the price range, look on the map for locations, check reviews, then book.
We firstly look at Airbnb for places to stay, though not far behind as our favourite hotel search and booking site is booking.com, particularly if looking for hotel rooms. When searching, you can specify family rooms or family-friendly places, also the distance from the town centre and if they have a pool – all very useful. We also love their feature of free cancellations – it has enabled us to lock in a place to stay, knowing that we still have the flexibility to modify the booking if we have a change in plans, which has happened quite a few times!
HostelWorld is the best hostel accommodation site. We use them for all our hostel searches. Good family budget accommodation can be found at hostels, they are not just for young backpackers. There are often private family rooms available for a good price, and the added benefit of a kitchen to cook your own meals and a good community of travellers to bounce travel ideas off. Search and make a booking here.
Planes: Google Flights
It is hard to suggest just one online flight booking tool, as we often utilise many at once in order to find the best deals. Our first port of call for finding the best deal on flights is Google Flights. It is super easy to use and gives great options for playing around with dates and airlines to find the best prices. Once we have identified the best flights, we usually look to book directly with the airline. If you can get a similar price, it is a lot easier to deal with the airline itself rather than a booking agent if you need to make any changes.
This is my new favourite airfare booking site. I have only just started using it and I am blown away by the features which help to fine-tune the best flights. And it looks great too. You should use Momondo as your starting point when researching all your flights.
Another multi-search tool, Skyscanner always seems to find a few more options, so I will check this site too, to compare prices. You can also check out hotels and car hire while you are there.
Cars: Vroom Vroom Vroom
For car rentals in Australia, Vroom x 3 is where we look first. I still don’t like its name, but the website searches all the major car rental companies and gives you a very good comparison listing. After I find a good deal on this site, I will then head over to the car hire company’s website and often I can get an even better deal using their specials.
Using the Uber ridesharing app to book rides is often a great option when you are travelling, the price is set so you don’t need to traverse the gauntlet of taxi touts and haggle for a price, and you don’t need to have local currency on hand as the payment is all done through your saved credit card details.
Trains: The Man in Seat 61
The man in seat 61 is the ultimate guide to train travel anywhere in the world. If you plan to travel by train, particularly if you are going on a long journey, you should be checking out this website. There is the most comprehensive information on routes, times, prices, and train conditions.
Lonely Planet is our preferred guidebook. There are a few major guidebooks around and you may have your own favourite one to use. We like Lonely Planet for the look and quality of their guides, the simple maps, organization, and emphasis on budget travel. Nowadays we usually just download the chapters we are interested in, which saves us carrying around the extra weight.
Rather than use your guidebook for recommended places to visit, we tend to rely more on the power of public user reviews. Tripadvisor has the power of numbers, with often hundreds of reviews of the hotels and restaurants you might want to visit. Being able to filter them down by groups (we always check the reviews by families), and look on a map to find places nearby, creates more relevant results.
When searching for a place or service online, it is always worthwhile to check if there are Google reviews. This is a growing source of good information.
Another useful source of user-created and curated information is the WikiTravel website. Although not updated as regularly as I would like, the website provides a free source of guidebook-type information that is worth checking out. You can never be too prepared. You can also make additions and corrections to the site yourself to help fellow travellers.
Do you have any suggestions? Are there other resources that you use that you think we should have a look at and others we should try too? Please let us know.