Travel Planning

Travel Planning and Research Resources | brittanymthiessen.com

Are you in the process of researching and planning your future travel adventures? This page was designed specifically for you! Travel planning can be frustrating, especially if you don’t know where to look! That’s why I have created this list of my favourite recommended travel planning and research resources to help you plan your next adventure. 

I am always planning my future adventures and explorations, and in obsessive amounts of detail at that! I take great satisfaction in researching and planning my travels in-depth and creating travel itineraries… For me, it’s almost as much as the travel itself (but obviously not quite)! From transportation to flights to activities and attractions to restaurants to learning about the local culture, language, cuisine and history, I strive to sort everything out and learn as much as possible about my destination before I hop on that plane and embark on a new adventure in a foreign land.

I also love helping other people research and plan their travels too, by writing and sharing my reviews, in-depth travel guides, and stories about my experiences. I created this page to assist you in your travel research and planning.

Below you will find a collection of my favourite travel planning websites and resources that I love and personally use when I am researching my own travel adventures and explorations, in order to help you better plan your next adventure. I hope you enjoy reading and find these to be helpful to you!

Note: This list will be updated regularly, as I continue to find more great websites to use.

If you have questions about any of the websites listed below or if you have any suggestions for travel planning websites that you love, you can contact me here.

Flights

Skyscanner

Skyscanner Logo

Skyscanner is my one of my favourite search engines for finding and comparing flight prices. What’s unique about Skyscanner, is that you have the option of selecting “everywhere” as your destination and it will find you the cheapest flights from your current location. I also love the simple and user-friendly design of Skyscanner’s website.

Momondo

Momondo Logo

Momondo is another one of my favourite websites for searching and comparing flights. I love the functionality and simple design of their website and it’s very easy to use.

Google Flights

Google Flights is a great website for finding cheap flights. It’s a good one to check if you are on the hunt for a flight deal and want to compare the prices with those featured on other flight search engine websites. The website is simple and easy to use and it tells you which websites are the cheapest to purchase your desired flight from. 

Hopper

Hopper Logo

Hopper is different from the previous two flight booking websites in that it is exclusively a smartphone app, not a website.

Airline Websites

WestJet Airline Logo

When I begin searching for flight deals, I always start with comparing the prices on popular search engines like Skyscanner, Momondo and Hopper but I always end up purchasing directly from the airline. I have had good experiences so far in doing this and have found some deals. A big plus that comes with booking directly through the airline, is that it would be a lot easier to cancel or change your booking if you don’t have to deal with a third-party search engine. 

I recommend checking out the airline websites when comparing flight prices and seeing what they have to offer! 

Seat Guru

Seat Guru is a website that allows you to view seating maps for a variety of different planes so that you can make an informed decision when choosing your seat on your flight! All you have to do is enter your flight number and select your airline and the map of the plane will pop up. Good seats will be green-coloured and bad ones will be red. 

Accommodation

Airbnb

Airbnb Logo

Airbnb is a fantastic accommodation search engine that connects you the traveler with local homeowners all over the world who are renting out their private rooms, entire apartments or houses. Airbnb allows you to stay in the homes of locals and have the unique opportunity to experience the local life in your destination and connect with the people who live there. Airbnb has a huge directory of homes, apartments, and guesthouses that are rented out to travelers by local homeowners around the world, offering nightly, weekly and monthly rates suitable for short or long term stays. 

I love Airbnb and having the opportunity to stay with locals is so amazing! This website has a huge directory of homes, apartments, and guesthouses that are rented out to travelers by homeowners, with both nightly and weekly rates. You can choose from shared rooms to private rooms to entire houses and/or apartments. What I love most about Airbnb, is that it allows you to find unique accommodations in a variety of neighbourhoods at your destination where you have the opportunity to stay away from the downtown business and tourist-heavy areas and instead, travel, live and experience a place like a local through immersing yourself in the daily life and culture and interact with the renters of the house or apartment. Staying in a local’s house or apartment also allows you to experience the comforts of home and enjoy some privacy when you’re finished exploring for the day. Some properties on Airbnb offer monthly rates as well, which is a fantastic option for long-term, slow travelers who want to really get to know a place for a longer period of time. I recommend reading past guest reviews, checking out the property’s cancellation policy, viewing photos of the place, and ensuring that 

If you sign up for Airbnb using this link, you will get a discount on your first stay! 

Hostelworld

Hostelworld Logo

Hostelworld is the only website that I use for booking hostel stays and they have the largest online directory of hostels and they also feature some small hotels, guesthouses and bed & breakfasts around the world. This is the best website to find budget accommodations for your trip! I love how easy to use their website is for viewing hostel reviews from past guests, official photos, location and directions, amenities, and other information. Hostels are one of the most inexpensive accommodations and they are a fantastic place to meet other travelers and make friends from around the world, especially if you are a solo traveler. Many hostels offer both dorm rooms of various sizes as well as private rooms, which are very affordable and great for budget-conscious travelers. After choosing your room on the Hostelworld website, you pay a percentage of the total cost as a deposit which can be made flexible, if you decide to cancel your reservation as well. All of your booking information is then emailed to you with directions to get to the hostel.

You can read my hostel reviews from the places I have stayed by clicking here

To book a hostel for your next adventure, click here

Booking.com

Booking.com Logo

Booking.com is a simple and easy-to-use search engine featuring a large inventory and variety of accommodations including hotels (both large ones and smaller independent ones), hostels, B&Bs and local guesthouses for short-term stays. There are no booking fees or deposits required when you reserve your stay and they offer free cancellation for the most of their accommodations. The website is easy to use and I enjoy using it to search for local guesthouses and B&Bs and independent hotels in places where there might not be many hostels. There are lots of filters that you can use to narrow your search as well. 



Booking.com

If you book your travel accommodation through my affiliate link (by clicking on the Booking.com links or image), I will receive a small commission from Booking.com, at no extra cost to you. If you are in the process of booking a trip, I would really appreciate it if you used my links and helped to support the costs of running this blog! Thank you in advance. 

 

Couchsurfing

Couchsurfing is a website that provides travelers with the opportunity to stay with locals in their houses (short-term) for free! On the website, you are able to browse through hosts from around the world and contact them through the site’s messaging system. Couchsurfing is a great way to connect with fellow like-minded travelers, learn about the local culture, save money on travel accommodation costs and get locals-only insider tips and information about your destination. 

Trusted Housesitters

Housesitting is a fantastic option for budget and slow travelers who seek to save money on accommodations and immerse themselves in the local culture of a place for a specified period of time. In exchange for taking care of and maintaining all aspects of the house and potentially looking after the pets, you are able to stay for free in the homes of locals who are going away on vacation and are seeking some peace of mind while they are gone. 

If you are a budget traveler who is flexible with your travel dates and don’t have a problem with doing some work in exchange for staying in the comfort and privacy of a home and having the opportunity to experience a new culture, then house-sitting may be the perfect option for you. 

Other popular house-sitting websites include Mind My House, etc., which also allow you to browse through their directories of homeowners around the world seeking a housesitter, after paying a small one-time fee. I have not yet tried out housesitting, but would love to do in the future! 

Travel Insurance

World Nomads

World Nomads Logo

Even though thankfully, I have never had to make an insurance claim, I always purchase insurance when I travel. After thoroughly researching many different options for insurance providers and reading lots of reviews, I decided to go with World Nomads and have been very pleased with my choice thus far. Their customer service is fantastic; their website is user-friendly; their insurance policy is easier to understand than any other policies that I have read and it doesn’t have so much incomprehensible legal jargon; their prices are very reasonable and provide the best value for your money for the coverage that you get (they were the cheapest that I could find during my research); and it is easy to make a claim on their website, purchase insurance and extend your coverage while you are still on the road. World Nomads caters its insurance to independent adventurers and their policy includes coverage for a wide range of adventure and outdoor activities. Their policy is quite comprehensive and it includes coverage for medical expenses/emergency transportation, trip cancellation, trip interruption, luggage and personal effects, and travel accidents. Before you confirm your purchase, you are provided with an option to donate $2 to World Nomads’ Footprints charity and you can choose which one of their projects that you would like to support, which is a great way to give back to local communities and I think it’s amazing that World Nomads offers this. 

You never know what could happen on your travels, so insurance is always a good idea. There are lots of stories of people out there who didn’t buy insurance and were injured while traveling, forcing them to pay for all of their medical expenses on their own. If anything happened to me, I know for sure – 100% – that I would regret not getting insurance. 

If you would you like to purchase travel insurance from World Nomads, click here to get started. By purchasing travel insurance from my affiliate link, you will also be helping to support my blog (at no extra cost to you), so thank you! 

Travel Research and Pre-Planning

TripAdvisor

TripAdvisor Logo

TripAdvisor is my number one go-to website when I begin my travel planning. I use it for reading reviews and viewing user-submitted photos of attractions/things to do, restaurants, accommodations, and tours/activities. I also enjoy frequenting the active destination-specific forums, and they are a great place to ask specific questions and receive helpful advice and recommendations from the personal experience of other travelers.

Lonely Planet

Lonely Planet Logo

Lonely Planet is one of my go-to travel guidebooks to study before heading out on a new adventure. In addition to their detailed and comprehensive guidebooks which are geared towards independent travelers, their website also contains a lot of helpful information and their Thorn Tree forums are a great place to ask specific questions to a large community of independent travelers. I have used the forums many times both for posting my own questions and answering those posed by other travelers, and people are always very willing to share their tips, advice and recommendations with others. For those tech-savvy travelers or those who want to have access to their guidebooks on the go, Lonely Planet offer downloadable eBooks in addition to hard-copy paperback travel guides. 

Moon Guidebooks

Moon Guidebook Logo

Moon guidebooks are my personal favourite. They are geared towards independent travelers and I love that they provide detailed information about some lesser-known places like small towns and villages & offbeat activities and experiences, as well as fantastic practical information for transportation and getting to and from places. The layout of the guidebooks makes them easy to read and I love the multitude of detailed maps inside.

Travel Blogs

There are so many unique and interesting travel blogs out there and I love reading about other travelers’ experiences and stories from the places that I have traveled to or intend to travel to. Whenever I am planning my travels, I always type into Google Search, “(destination/place name) travel blogs,” and see what comes up. Blogs are a fantastic resource because they offer a more personalized perspective to destinations, in contrast with guidebooks which provide great practical information and facts.

Google

When I am planning my travel activities and researching interesting and unique things to do and see at my destination, I always go to Google and search, “(destination) things to do/off the beaten path.”

Social Media

Social media websites can be a great resource for researching and planning your trip. I use a combination of Pinterest, Instagram and Twitter.

 BootsnAll

This is a great online resource that has lots of helpful articles, guides and a forum for independent travelers. 

Travel Independent

Travel Independent is one of my favourite website to do my pre-travel research. It is a comprehensive website containing detailed guides with everything you need to know about traveling independently to countries around the world, packing tips, health and safety and a tonne of other resources and articles. 

WikiTravel

WikiTravel is one of my go-to online resources that I use when researching a trip. You can look up any destination and find information that is nicely organized with bolded headers and easy to read. It lists accommodations, restaurants, attractions/things to do, how to get there and around and more in a concise manner. 

Food and Restaurants

Happy Cow

Happy Cow is a fantastic and comprehensive website and resource for finding vegetarian-friendly, vegan, and gluten-free restaurants and health food stores in cities and towns around the world. As a vegetarian and gluten-free eater, I always use this website during my pre-travel research when I am looking for restaurants to add to my itinerary. 

Chowhound

Chowhound is a great website for foodies! I always check the forums for places where I plan to travel to, in order to get locals-only insider tips and information about restaurants and foods. 

Meeting Others

Meetup

Meetup is a website that allows you to find groups of people with common interests in your hometown or travel destination and is a great way of making new friends and meeting like-minded people while participating in a fun activity anywhere you go! 

Travel Finances

XE Currency Converter

XE Currency is super helpful for figuring out currency conversions when you are traveling to a foreign country. It is available in both website format and as a smartphone app, which is really convenient for when you are on the road. 

Road Trips

Gas Buddy

GasBuddy is a fantastic smartphone app to use for road trips because it informs you of where you can find the cheapest gas prices to fuel up your car around your current location. 

Packing

One Bag

If your goal is to pack light, taking only the essentials and carry-on only, then this website will be very helpful for you. It is a fantastic resource for figuring out what to pack, how to pack it and what to pack it in and the website also includes a sample packing list. I use this website as a guide when I am packing and love the information that they share. 

Her Packing List

This website and blog is my go-to resource for all things packing! It has tonnes of information, reviews and articles about various backpacks, daypacks, travel accessories, packing tips and advice and more and also contains a huge list of comprehensive packing lists for places and climates around the world, as submitted by travelers. 

Working/Volunteering Abroad

Workaway and HelpX

Workaway and HelpX are both short-term work exchange websites, where you can browse a huge inventory of listings from hostels to bed and breakfasts to local farms to homestays to lodges and more and find a multitude of opportunities to volunteer abroad. These websites are fantastic for budget travelers who want to volunteer around the world and immerse themselves in the local culture and language of their destination! I have not used either of these websites yet, but I definitely want to in the future. How it works, is that you do 4-5 hours of volunteer work per day in exchange for accommodation and food with your host family. A great way to travel slower and inexpensively and take the time to explore your destination more in-depth and learn about the daily life. 

World Wide Opportunities on Organic Farms (WWOOF)

WWOOF is a website that connects travelers to organic farms around the world, offering them an opportunity to stay with the local farmers, work on farms, gain new skills, and experience the daily life and culture of the locals at their destination. It is completely free and travelers receive a free stay and meals in exchange for their time and labour working on the farm. This is a great way to travel for cheap! 

Idealist

Idealist features listings of jobs, internships and volunteer opportunities at non-profit organizations around the world. If you are looking for non-profit work experience, this is a great resource to utilize! 

Transitions Abroad

This website provides tonnes of information about working, studying, volunteering, living, teaching and interning abroad. If you are planning on doing any of these things, I recommend checking this website out. 

Language Learning

DuoLingo

DuoLingo is a great website and smartphone app that makes learning a new language fun and easy with games and different levels. The website is completely free to use and it is great for helping you to practice speaking, writing, reading and listening in your desired language. 

Lonely Planet Phrasebooks

Whenever I travel to a place where the native language is not English, I am always carrying around a handy and helpful Lonely Planet Phrasebook. I love these phrasebooks because they are small and easy to fit in a small purse or backpack and they are very comprehensive and include phrases and vocabulary for a variety of different situations. My Mexican Spanish Phrasebook helped me out so many times during my first solo trip to the Yucatan and I would have been so lost without it! I recommend picking one of these up before you travel. 

Google Translate

When you’re on the road traveling and need to know how to say a certain phrase in the local language or need to translate what a local is saying to you, Google Translate is fantastic! The only unfortunate thing about it, is that it does require an internet connection so you may not be able to use it wherever you go. I use it for translating phrases from English to the local language and then taking a screenshot of the translation on my phone or writing it down, so that I can have it with me and access it when I need to. 

Learn Spanish

Learn Spanish is a fantastic website that includes lessons, quizzes and tests to help you learn the Spanish language from the grammar to the vocabulary and more. I have used it many times before traveling to Spanish-speaking cities and towns and it’s a great resource. 

Maps

Google Maps

What would I do without Google Maps?! This website and smartphone app is such a life saver and I use it all the time, both when I am at home and traveling. The GPS function of the iPhone app is my favourite and I love that your phone doesn’t need to be connected to the internet for this to work! Whenever I need to get from my current location to my destination, I always punch it into Google Maps and it provides me with the best route and turn-by-turn directions in order to get there. If you make the wrong turn or get off track in any way, it will re-route and figure out new directions for you. So awesome! 

Google Maps is also a great resource if you get lost while exploring a new city or town. I have used it many times to see where I am and how to get back to my destination, if I get turned a little around while wandering. 

Maps.me

Maps.me is one of my favourite smartphone apps for traveling. You are able to download detailed maps from countries around the world for you to consult offline, when you don’t have access to Wi-Fi internet. I rely on this app and use if often when I am traveling outside of Canada and my iPhone isn’t connected to the internet or when Google Maps isn’t working. It also offers the option of finding directions between two places and acting as a GPS router to help guide you there, even when you are offline! I found this to be very helpful when I was road tripping to secluded areas along the Ruta Puuc in Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula. If you have plans to travel outside of your home country where you won’t always have access to the internet, I highly recommend downloading and using this app! 

Smartphone Apps

Skype

Skype Logo

Skype is a great tool that I use frequently for communicating with family and friends at home when I am traveling. Video calls between Skype users are free but you can also purchase a variety of monthly subscriptions for Skype or just buy your desired amount of credit to make voice-only calls. From my experiences, the voice calls have generally worked out great for me and when the Wi-Fi is decent, there are no dropped calls, delays, or static on the call. Being able to call my parents and chat on the phone with them when I am away from home is amazing and it really helps with not feeling as lonely.

You can use Skype on your smartphone using their beautifully designed app as well as on the computer.

 

Disclosure: This resource page contains affiliate links, which means that if you click on a link and purchase something, I will receive a small commission at no extra cost to you. Thanks for your support! 

Liked It? Pin It!

Travel Planning and Research Resources | brittanymthiessen.com

Did you find this list of resources helpful for your travel planning and research? If so, please share this article on your favourite social media platform(s) and spread the knowledge! If there is someone in your life that you know of who would particularly benefit from this list, then please share it with them also.  

What are your favourite resources? Am I missing anything that you would recommend I check out and add to this page? Let me know via email or social media – Facebook, Twitter and Instagram

If you have questions about any of the resources listed on this page or if you would like some personal advice on how to plan your travel adventure, please don’t hesitate to contact me!