I’ve been traveling a lot for the past 5 years, living in 4 different cities and visiting nearly 20 cities on 3 continents while being on a student budget. I’ve definitely gotten better at planning itineraries, saving money, all the while being safe as a female traveler. I’m here to share all my secrets with you today.
First of all, why should you plan your own trips and why should you use look online? There are so many benefits in designing your own trips using online resources. You can learn about the cities even before visiting and be prepared to tackle any cultural differences. Additionally, you can find the best photo spots and restaurants by utilizing reviews that previous visitors have left. One of the best things is that you can easily find discount deals and even those hidden ones you can’t find offline.
The websites below are 7 best trip planning websites use all the time when I travel, regardless of whether it is Asia, North America, or Europe. These websites help me save money, get some background information on my destinations, thus having the best experience. In this post, I write about 7 websites I use for planning trips and how I create travel plans.
Google Flights and Skyscanner
Using Google Flights in conjunction with Skyscanner is one of the travel hacks I learned from a friend in Beijing. I use these for researching flights options. I first look up the flights to my desired destinations on Skyscanner to see which routes and dates are the cheapest.
However, I don’t buy flight tickets from Skyscanner because they don’t have the best customer service (probably the worst). In case your plan changes after buying on Skyscanner, you will have a hard time refunding your flight ticket.
Then, I use Google flights to look up the routes that I got from Skyscanner to buy the tickets from the airline directly. From my experience, buying from the airline directly is so much better than buying from a cheaper broker because they have reliable customer service in case something goes wrong. Online brokers generally don’t have the authority or like to blame everything on the airline when you request anything. As an exception, I’ve had great experiences with Expedia since they have an outstanding rewards program if you fly often.
Hop on Hop off buses
Hop on Hop Off Bus is a city bus for tourists, and it lets you hop on and hop off for unlimited times during a set period. The price depends on the number of days you use the service, but it's affordable.
I use Hop on Hop off buses every single time I travel alone. It allows you to visit all the most famous tourist spots, without having to rent a car or join a tourist group. You don’t have to worry about getting kidnapped or overcharged by a taxi driver since you hop on a bus with many other tourists.
Above all, most of these buses are double-deckers, which means you get to have the best view while riding the bus around the city. They usually have a tour guide/audio guide that explains the history, current affairs, photo spots (and many more).
Even when I’m are not using the bus for transportation, I like to refer to their maps to plan my itinerary. You can easily see which tourist attractions are a “must” and where they are located. Since these buses often have multiple routes with recommendations on how many hours/days you need to cover the routes, you can use this to plan how you will spend each day.
I look up restaurants, museums, and basically every place I want to visit while traveling on Google Maps and favorite them. This helps me in two ways.
- I can easily access these spots later when I travel.
- I can easily spot any locations that are too far away and readjust my plan.
Additionally, Google Maps is terrific for researching which restaurants to visit. It allows you to have a bird's eye view of where the restaurants are located and filter them by price, cuisine, rating, and open hours.
Airbnb is one of the best websites to look for an affordable place to stay compared to regular hotels. Many hosts offer discounts if you stay for longer than a month.
Additionally, they have Airbnb experiences where you can hire a local guide to show you what the locals do, eat, and much more. This can be a genuine experience where you can visit places only locals know about and immerse yourself in a new culture. The hosts often work as a guide as a side hustle, and they are passionate about showing you around.
Check if the Airbnb hosts have good reviews and sometimes you can even find their Instagram account (many hosts will leave this in their Airbnb profiles) to get more information on what the accommodation and experiences will look like.
Lonely Planet and The Travel Intern for inspiration
Most people probably know this already; Lonely planet is an online and offline travel book publisher known for its quality information on many destinations. Their online and offline resources are filled with rich knowledge and inspiration.
The Travel Intern is a Singaporean travel website specializing in traveling for students/young professionals seeking adventure and experiences on a budget. The blog posts are written by real people in their 20’s which makes them so relatable. They hire travel interns every year where these interns go out and explore the world! They often show the exact itineraries and the detailed breakdown of how much they spent, which is interesting to read. I specifically liked this post where they showed their actual budget for safari (kenya) trip.
I hope you found this post helpful for planning your next trip! Planning a trip can be overwhelming, but you will get better at it with some practice. Let me know in the comments below where your next travel destination will be and which trip planning websites help you the most. I'm currently in Germany, exploring so Western Europe. Check out my recent post on traditional German breakfast!