We’re in the middle of planning our next epic road trip and so I thought I would share my top 5 websites for travel planning. These are the websites I always rely on for planning our trips.
Note I have not included any inspiration websites in the list below, for that I use fellow bloggers and Pinterest.
By far my favourite site for finding accommodation. It’s simple to use, and has a nice clean interface, you can also view your hotel choices on a map and they have lots of options to filter out results, we always select hotels with car parks for example. The reason I love it is that it’s a comparison site so you can search hundreds of hotel websites to get the best deal. It also includes the hotel’s own site in the case of chains, it’s actually surprising the amount of times you can get a cheap deal by going through the official site.
It will also have multiple listings for the same company and tell you a little about each, so you may be able to see if for a little extra a night you can get breakfast or the option for free cancellation (something we often look for when driving, you never know where the road will take us!).
Now this may be a little cheeky but once I have a list of the room rates on the hotel we want I look to see if the site is available on Quidco. If you aren’t aware of it, Quidco is a cash back site and by clicking on the link through Quidco you will be entitled to a percentage of whatever you purchase, it works similar to affiliate programs on blogs. I look through the special offers and see if hotel sites are offering really high rates (there was one offering 16% the other day!) and have come up on my Trivago search. A quick few sums and I can see what combination of cheap rate and cashback will get me the best deal.
Side note: Timing of cash back can vary for example for accommodation some won’t give you the cash back for 8-12 weeks after your visit, but that doesn’t bother me. I haven’t spent a penny of it and just let it build up in my account. Their service is excellent, I had one sight that didn’t track properly and I just filled in a few details and they take care of the rest.
You can use Quidco for lots of other stuff too, flights, trains tickets, shopping, days out. If you are not signed up to it or another cash back site I highly recommend it.
If you sign up using this link you will get £1 back instantly.
3. TRIP ADVISOR
To me it is original review website. I’ve been using it for a while and I find it the best and easiest to use for finding restaurants and things to do. It can also be a great tool to find some really reasonable, decent hotels. Like all review sites you do have to use a bit of judgement when reading the reviews. Often people only review if they have had a really bad experience. You can generally get a sense from reading several reviews whether that was bad luck or the norm. Download the app and you can also save cities offline to browse when abroad. Also, whatever review website you do use, make sure you add your own when you comeback, the good, the bad and the so-so so you can help other travellers.
4. GOOGLE MAPS
I use Google maps for a variety of things. Firstly to stop me getting lost. Seriously how did people function before smart phones?! I’ve always felt pretty confident wandering around new cities and generally have quite a good sense of direction but having a device to tell me my location definitely makes me feel more comfortable exploring a new location. One of my favourite abilities is planning itineraries in cities. I search the key places I want to go and star them. Once I zoom out and look at the map I can see a better order of how to do things.
As we do go on road trips it’s also great for planning mileage and routes. If you have a google account you can save maps and share with other. By downloading the app, like Trip Advisor you can also save maps offline and look up reviews for restaurants and hotels (although it is not as widely used as Trip Advisor yet). It’s great for working out what’s nearby and viewing things like opening times.
5. MONEY SAVING EXPERT
I actually love this site for general money saving things but it’s also great for all sorting out all the boring travel things. I should also note that it has loads of amazing tips such how to claim compensation for missed flights, using your phone abroad and other general tips. And lists lots of deals for all things cheap such as flights, hotels and trains.
I use it for two main things. Firstly getting a cheap deal on my travel insurance. It works like a comparison site so lists all possible deals over the Internet in order of price. Please make sure to you don’t just go for the cheapest deal though, make sure that policy has everything you need it too and always read the small print on the actual site. Also remember if you live in an EU country and are travelling to another EU country you need a European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) card.
Next I use it for getting a good deal on travel money. Again the site compares a variety of products and let’s you know which option eg credit card, prepaid card or cash is the cheapest. While it’s not always the cheapest, I do want to mention the FairFX card. I first discovered it on Money Saving Expert years ago and I’ve used it whenever I go abroad ever since. It’s a prepaid card which you load with cash (and can even top up via text while you are away) but it looks like a MasterCard and offers the same kind of protection ie if you lose it you can cancel it and get a replacement sent out. If you sign up using this link it will waive the £10 sign up fee when you top up at least £50 (equivalent is €60 or $70).
OTHER USEFUL SITES
- Foreign travel advice on the UK gov site (visit) this may be a UK site but it’s so helpful. It lists hundreds of countries and covers entry requirements, health and safety, local laws and much more.
- AA driving abroad (visit) if you are planning on driving in Europe this has some great tips and lets you know about tolls, what to carry, driving laws abroad and much more.
Happy travelling everyone! Please leave your own tips for sites you use when travel planning.