Planning a trip can be as exciting as traveling, or at least, it’s what kicks off the excitement! Long before you even pack your bag or set foot in the airport, your mind is tickled with the thoughts of where to travel, where to stay, what to do, who to meet, etc. Although spontaneity is appreciated during travels, as it adds to the sense of adventure, but for some travelers, especially solo female travelers like me, planning ahead is essential to avoid uncomfortable and unsafe situations… Also, it is a mandate for overthinking meticulous perfectionists like me haha
I’ve recently been planning my upcoming trip to Sri Lanka, and spent over 2 weeks just on the planning alone, and enjoyed every minute of it! If you’ve ever planned your own itinerary for a trip, you’re probably familiar with some of the travel sites out there that can be of great help… Here are my favorites:
I’ve only recently gotten to know about this site, and now I can’t imagine not using it! It saves lots of time on checking the different airlines, timings, prices, etc. Just enter your departure airport, and leave the rest to it, to find the best airfare! You can even leave the arrival airport blank, and you’ll get a list of possible destinations from lowest airfares to highest, and pick your destination accordingly! If you already have decided where you’re going, then you get to compare airfares, by travel dates and airlines, and length of flight. Just check out their website, or download their mobile app, and play with it a little to get a better idea!
Everyone probably knows about TripAdvisor, so no need to explain what it is. Basically, I use it to check attractions of the country/city I am traveling to, and make a list of the places I find interesting. It also gives you a list of accommodations, with rates from hotel booking sites, and reviews. What I find most useful though are the forums! Most questions that would come to your mind regarding your destination have probably already been asked by others, like questions about possible routes between cities, local hangouts, choosing between different itineraries, etc. Whenever you search google for such travel tips, you’ll probably get a TripAdvisor result first.
Most of the travelers I know are familiar with this site, and its major competitor Agoda.com. I personally prefer Booking, although its rates are sometimes higher with lesser options from Agoda, because I can book using my prepaid credit card. If you don’t have that issue, then either sites should work fine for you, but I find Booking’s interface easier to use and more appealing. The site also allows you to save the booking confirmation details to your device's gallery for ease of access, which I find very useful, especially when you have lots of bookings included in your trip.
Now this is a site that not many people are familiar with, and it’s one of my all-time favorite travel sites! What is the worst thing about traveling alone? Definitely it’s the fact that you get bored and lonely most of the time, and that’s what Couchsurfing solves. Through this community, you can search for locals and travelers at your travel destination, meet up with them, get information from them, exchange stories with them, travel with them, and even “surf” at their homes. It is the best way to get to know amazing people from different cultures and backgrounds, and develop friendships around the world! Of course, some people (especially guys, seriously, stop turning every site into a dating site!) abuse the system, so be careful while you make your pick at who to trust!
I have only discovered this site while planning for my Sri Lanka trip, as I wanted to be familiar with possible routes between cities, since I plan to travel from city to city almost every day. This site does just that, giving you route options including bus, taxi, flights, etc. and fares, complete with a map for the route!
Apart from travel sites, I also use and recommend the following:
Currency Converter: As simple as it is, using a currency converter saves a lot of hassle with the money exchange and assessing the value of what you’re paying for. I find it useful to familiarize myself with the currency of the travel destination ahead of time, so I don’t have to use the app every time I need to make a simple transaction.
Travel Guide: It certainly helps to have a travel guide for your travel destination that contains all the information you would require during your trip. I found it even better to make my own travel guide, or simply a Word/PDF document, with all the information I have collected so far: cities, attractions, routes with transportation options, accommodation details, maps, etc. It doesn’t have to be a fancy guide, but it would sure be a great way to organize your trip! I’ll soon upload a sample of my own guide to Sri Lanka, once I am done with the trip… Don’t want to publish it now and have people stalking me haha
Dictionary: It is common sense to have an offline dictionary for the language of your travel destination, especially if English (or any other language you speak) isn’t widely used… Even if it is, it wouldn’t hurt to learn a few courtesy phrases and show some travel etiquette!
So these are some of the sites and apps that I use for my travel planning… Do you use any of them? Or have any other ones that you recommend? Let me know in the comments below!
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