Having travelled for many years on end, I have come to rely on many excellent websites, apps, resources and services that make the life of a traveller just a little bit easier.
These are some of the top ones that I recommend:
Flights & Transportation
My favorite and most easy-to-use flight search engine. To get the most of it, learn how to use Flight Insight and other advanced features. I talk about this in my post, How To Find The Cheapest Flights.
My other favorite flight search engine. If you’re not sure where you’re going yet, type in your starting destination in one field and “everywhere” in the other and it will list every destination ranked by price. You can also select ‘any airport’ within a country.
Momondo and Skyscanner are better, but one feature I like about Kayak in particular is Kayak Explore, which gives you a world map showing the lowest prices for every country.
Easily find out how to get from point A to point B. The best site for finding transport connections and price estimates on flights, buses, trains, taxis, and more.
Not so secret anymore — this is the place to find crazy airline deals and so-called error fares. These ultra cheap flights usually do involve multiple stops or departures from obscure airports, but there are some amazing opportunities here for the patient travel hacker.
If you aren’t picky on when you fly, skyscanner is perfect. One of the best features is being able to search for the cheapest cost of any date in an entire month, rather than having to manually check every date. Another great way to research cheap destinations is to select ‘Anywhere’ within the search box as this will show you a long list of rough cost estimates.
If you are not yet fully decided on where you are going, and you just want to know what countries or cities are cheap to fly into, then check out Google Flights. Hit the Explore Destinations link, set your home airport, and you’ll get a map filled with price estimates for flights. From here, sometimes it’s cheapest to use this information to then book elsewhere like skyscanner or kiwi.
Airlines aren’t perfect – Scott’s Cheap Flights is great for finding those imperfections. Rather than automated fares, this website provides its users with prime deals based on airtime, layovers, and costs. Since deals are constantly changing, this is one website where it’s handy to receive emails on new bargains so you don’t miss out.
Similar to skyscanner, Kiwi shows you the cheapest time to fly – with added options. It allows you to search to and from multiple airports, which streamlines the use and saves you time. Kiwi will also let you add multiple cities and now has a Nomad feature. This lets you choose your destination and the length you wish to stay, then provides the cheapest dates to fly.
Points and air miles can be a complicated world to navigate. The Points Guy is the prime website for in depth guides on how to wring every last benefit from your credit card or air miles account. Don’t have an air miles account? You’ll find information here on every possible card to maximize your points.
Not all countries are privy to unplanned backpacking and traveling. With Best Onward Ticket, you can “rent” a flight as proof of onward travel to show to border control. This takes the stress off of being denied plane boarding or country entry because of not having an exit flight. Flights are only valid for a limited time, so be sure to plan when you buy these rental tickets.
Travel Guides & Research
Gives you all country info at a glance, including weather, timezone, electricity plugs, currency, internet & vaccination requirements.
A superb resource for any world traveller. The ‘where to go’ page has some excellent itinerary ideas. I consulted this site often in my early travels, and still go back to it every once in a while.
A free, community-authored travel guide; in essence, it’s the Wikipedia of travel. I mainly use this site to do basic ‘where to go and how to get there’ research, and less so for restaurants or places to stay (as this information is often out of date).
An amazing resource if you are planning a road trip. Detailed information on 50+ countries.
Still some of the best travel guides around. These days they’re available both in paper and digital versions, and even offered piecemeal as individual chapters in PDF format.
Their layout takes a bit of getting used to and they can be a bit wordier and history-focused, but unlike Lonely Planet they’ve kept their focus squarely on budget / mid-range travel, usually not bothering to mention luxury resorts.
‘Things to do in…’ lists, but very different from Tripadvisor. Often tries to showcase smaller quirky sights, like some hidden old library or a shop that sells only time travel equipment. Very fun to browse.
Originally created for remote workers, but the search functionality on Nomad List serves just as well for finding your next travel destination. Every country also has its own forum and Slack-style chatroom, where you can get first-hand information from travellers who are currently staying there.
Has seating layouts for every imaginable flight, helping you find the best available seats.
This is the place where pretty much anything gets reviewed: restaurants, hotels, sights, museums, and things to do. One helpful aspect of this is the user generated reviews, although they can tend to be biased or have unreasonable expectations. Even so, it’s a good port of call if you just need some high-level info.
The first thing that should be said about MAPS.me is that you can always use it offline. It’s also based on the crowdsourced Open Street Maps, which means it has details that no other maps have. I often find tiny things on there like narrow hiking trails, hidden waterfalls, etc. where other maps just show you an empty void.
Pre-paid Debit Cards
Two popular ones have emerged in recent years: Revolut and Transferwise both offer debit cards that let you take out up to €200 a month (or your equivalent) from foreign ATMs without any fees. They also guarantee currency conversions at interbank rates, without adding additional fees on top. If any transactions seem fishy or if you happen to lose your card abroad, you can block it with just a tap.
Specific Travel Information
These fantastic wikis help you easily find walking trails. They are especially useful for developing countries where good trail info is often missing or hard to find, as they’ll try to get you to pay for a private guide instead. Wikiloc also has an app that helps you navigate the trails via GPS, as well as sort trails by rating and difficulty.
Think of this as the TripAdvisor of hikes. Each hike listing tells you the distance, elevation gain, and route type along with a brief description of how to find the trailhead and what to expect on the hike. Users have the ability to comment, upload photos, and rate the hikes which is great to get a feel for what to prepare for.
Those who are stuck in the airport for a night but don’t want to spend the money on accommodation – there is a website dedicated to sleeping in airports. Sleeping in Airports is complete with tips and tricks on where to find some quiet sleeping spots in specific airports. Aside from just sleeping, it will tell you where you can go to charge your devices or find an airport lounge.
For location specific tips, Travel Fish provides planning information for traveling throughout Southeast Asia. Here you’ll find travel forums as well as country guides featuring highlights, alternative destinations, what to do, and more. It even provides budget tips for your time there.
A complete guide to all information on road tripping in the Americas, this website is covers everything from traveling with pets to vehicle shipping. Stories from other overlanders give great insight to the unique challenges and adventures on the road! The forums can help as well with any specific questions you might have. Especially great for the Pan-American highway.
The ultimate site on rail travel around the world! Seat61 breaks down how to travel safely, comfortably, and cost effectively by skipping the flights and opting for a train, bus, or ferry instead. It has information on travel in Asia, Africa, Europe, Australia, and the Americas. So pretty much everywhere!
A volunteer-run app, users are able to submit locations for all types of camping – including car camping, paid campgrounds, wild camping locations, and hostels. It is based on GPS coordinates which takes the guesswork out of the equation an takes you directly to the pinned spot. On top of that, if provides further information on where to find a mechanic if you have car trouble, where to get gas, or just find a scenic sunset. In short, everything for your overlanding needs.
The place to look for hostels, but also cheap B&Bs and budget hotels. User ratings are typically very accurate and reliable. Always look for ones with a high atmosphere rating!
While in some parts of the world Airbnb has become increasingly commercialised by companies (instead of individuals), Airbnb remains a goldmine for charming local places to stay. Psst – you can use this link and get $25 free Airbnb credit.
Perfect for finding smaller-scale or family-run hotels, because hotel owners can submit themselves for listing on Booking.com or Agoda, instead of having to sell their beds in bulk to a player like Expedia. Agoda is specialised in Asia, while Booking is great to use anywhere.
This hospitality exchange platform allows you to stay for free on people’s couches around the world. It may seem weird until you have actually done it! While ‘free’, cultural exchange is very much the goal here, and you are usually expected to be generous to your host in return for their hospitality (e.g. maybe buy them some drinks or cook them dinner). It can be a great way to meet locals.
One of the biggest volunteer placement organizations around. The classic WWOOF experience is to get free accommodation on a farm in exchange for doing some chores, though there are all sorts of other placements available.
Trustroots was made with hitchhikers and vagabonds in mind, but it is made for everyone. Another hospitality exchange community, Trustroots has over 30,000 members worldwide who are looking for hospitality and cultural exchange. As a non-profit organization, you never have to worry about paying anything to use it.
Campspace (formerly Campinmygarden)
Just like like Airbnb but for, you guessed it, camping in people’s gardens. If you’re not keen on diving straight into camping, they also have glamping sites as well as tree houses listed. It’s especially great for the U.K. that has over 200 campsite options, which is more listings over anywhere else on their map.
Think of it like an international Uber – BlaBlaCar is a rideshare platform that covers longer distances. Use it to get from one city to another, or even between countries in Europe. And not to worry – Blablacar is review based if you’re nervous about being in a car with a stranger.
House-swapping or housesitting is a way of staying in someone’s house for free, often for a couple of months, in exchange for looking after the house while its owners are away. Although it does come with a yearly fee, that cost is minute in comparison to what you might spend on independent accommodation. Not only that, but you get a whole place to yourself!
Officially endorsed by Lonely Planet, these are the most established player when it comes to flexible, worldwide, broad coverage insurance. Some of the best service and coverage around and they’re a favourite among adventurous travellers. My current insurer.
Great insurer with backpacker and globetrotter packages that are specifically tailored for bigger trips, with lots of coverage for sports and adventure activities as well. I used Columbus for two years and was very satisfied with them.
Safety and Security
While it’s not quite perfect, the Global Peace Index assigns an overall score to each country. Additionally, it will provide you with the scores of militarization, society and security, and domestic and internal conflict. To dig even deeper, you can see a list of full stats that show why any given country is rated what it is.
The travel cost and cost-of-living website Numbeo also has an extensive crime survey that includes some specific crowdsourced data on the local perceptions of crime and safety. Each country shows safety stats of walking alone during daylight versus night, which can be especially helpful for travelers in a new city.
If you install Prey, then by default it will continuously keep track of your devices. You can track 3 devices for free which is typically enough for an average person. Should something go missing, you can remotely lock your device, wipe data, and even access the camera to see who is using your potentially stolen tech.
Both websites are great to securely store logins for websites and apps. Each offer free and paid options to store your passwords safely. Storing all your passwords in one place may seem like a risk, but it’s not that simple – these websites use two-factor authentication as well as encryption to keep your passwords secure.
Both are great for finding estimated daily budgets and concrete information on the cost of food, accommodation, and other expenses around the world.
Great site for finding information on fair taxi fares around the world, as well as how to avoid touts, scammers, and so on.
The Thorn Tree is a discussion board that’s been hosted by Lonely Planet since 1996. I think the community is not as newbie-friendly as Nomadic Matt’s forums or Reddit, but it still serves as a key information exchange for world travellers.
Matt Kepnes runs one of the biggest and longest-running travel blogs. Since 2015, it’s also been home to a forum community where you can ask tips and advice to other travellers. It’s a friendly and well-moderated place, and thanks to its positive and more helpful tone I think it might well be the heir to Thorn Tree’s throne.
The subreddits /r/travel and /r/backpacking are excellent resources for general and destination-specific travel tips. /r/travel regularly nominates a Destination of the Week, and by looking up these country-specific threads in the archives you can unlock a gigantic wealth of information.
These platforms connect travellers with individual local guides, in much the same way Airbnb does for rooms and apartments.
Think a canal cruise in Amsterdam is expensive? Think again. Getyourguide connects you with amateur tour guides who will charge less than the pricey tour groups, but still provide you with an excellent cultural experience. This site also features skip the line tours for popular attractions like the Louvre or Empire State Building.
Want to take a cooking class in Rome or have a Jewish Shabbat dinner cooked for you in Tel Aviv? Eat With links tourists with locals to experience authentic cuisine of the destinations you visit. While most of the destinations are in Europe, you’ll be able to find food connections all over the world.
Volunteering and Work
For an online listing of hosts who will offer accommodation in exchange for short-term work, HelpX is a good start. You can search based on the region of a country, although there is no search bar if there is specific work you’re looking for. There is both a free and paid option, but at just 20 Euros for 2 years, it’s a vast savings in comparison to what you would otherwise spend on accommodation.
Similar to HelpX, Workaway has a more user friendly interface, albeit a higher fee at $42 USD per year for one person. However, there is a search bar that allows you to narrow down the job type and location. Don’t care where you work? Search for hosts on a global scale! It also provides a calendar of what months the host needs help which takes out some of the guesswork.
Both connect freelancers with all kinds of one-off jobs. Upwork tends to be very competitive to start out unless you have specific skills and references, but if you’re tenacious enough, it can be a great source of income. If you opt to using Fiverr, this can be nice because it’s always a fixed payment so you know exactly how much you’ll be making no matter how fast you get the job done.
A skill based word trade website, Working Traveller is specifically for building references and improving your skills. This is extremely helpful for if you want to hone in on something particular and have referrals for work experience when you go back home. Even better, this website is free to start with, and only $10 per year if you want to contact hosts without a limit.
Specifically, Job Monkey is for finding the coolest jobs. If you’re the type to get bored easily, this is perfect to find a seasonal job that’s more out of the box. Job Monkey will mainly guide you in the right direction to searching job boards, but it’s the perfect way to start your filtering.
Dedicated to connecting travellers with local temporary work, Kareeve helps get you connected with the perfect seasonal job. Keep in mind this website isn’t as active as much as it used to be, so you may have to spend a bit more time searching. Even so, this can be especially useful for finding a job at a summer camp or winter resort.
This one is perfect for backpackers looking for work during their working holiday visa in Australia. Listings will show the rate of payment as well as if it’s full-time or part-time. Additionally, it provides resources to help you figure out how to do your taxes when it comes around.
Exactly as it sounds, this job engine is for finding work that is location independent. Listings will show if the job is for any location, a specific time zone, or a certain country. Typically all it takes is uploading your resume to an open position making the application process quick and simple.
Both language learning tools have a similar goal: To help you learn a language for free. They have courses you can follow along with games that don’t make you feel like you’re learning, and community forums where you can ask questions and learn with others.
Fluent in 3 Months is run by a guy who travels to a new country every three months, where he attempts to become conversationally fluent in the local language. The blog is incredibly inspirational and full of advice and resources. If you decide to go premium, it costs $97 for lifetime access to loads of resources to speed up your learning process.
Depending on your nationality and destination, you can often get a visa-on-arrival. In cases where this is not possible, or when you want to stay longer, be sure to check Visa HQ. For a fee, they can sort out everything for you, so that you don’t have to go to an embassy and do all the paperwork yourself.
Consider all your visa headaches gone for good! Visa list allows you to input your home country, and from there you can see where you can travel to visa-free, and for how long. For the countries you do need to apply for, it provides a link if you’re able to do so online. Visas aside, it will tell you any additional documents you need to bring with you, such as vaccination proof or registration.
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