Last updated on March 27th, 2019 at 08:42 pm

The following is an excerpt from Journeybook: A Guided Travel Journal and Trip Planner to Inspire and Facilitate Your Travels, . The book is a guide to both the practical and contemplative aspects of travel, featuring a number of useful resources as well as journalling pages with inspiring quotes to keep you journalling every day.

It’s never been easier to be your own travel agent. All the tools are out there… but there are so, so many to choose from. Some sites drop off and new ones arise every day. To make your job easier, I’ve come up with a collection of some of the top travel sites, apps, tools and other travel resources I could find to make planning and booking your trip painless. This is a growing and ever-changing list so come back often. And if you have any favourites you’d like to add feel free to add them to the comments.

Booking

Hotwire – Booking site focused on cheap and discount travel for flights, hotels, cars and vacations. (www.hotwire.com)

Last Minute Travel – If booking last minute isn’t a problem for you, check out the deals and coupons on this site for accommodation, transportation, holidays and travel activities. (www.lastminutetravel.com)

Priceline – An alternative approach to booking where you bid a price and if the place you’re bidding on agrees to your price you get it. (www.priceline.com)

Agoda – A top accommodations and flights site that offers a number of deals to users. (www.agoda.com)

Expedia – Another option for booking that offers a wide range of options along with reviews. (www.expedia.com)

Kayak – Save yourself some time by comparing prices from hundreds of travel sites in one search. (www.kayak.com)

The Man in Seat Sixty-One – This man knows a heck of a lot about overland travel. Get detailed information on train, bus and boat trips, including long and complex routes, along with links to sites where you can book your tickets. (www.seat61.com)

G Adventures – “The Great Adventure People” deliver tours across a full spectrum to suit different travellers: young adults, families, rail tours, marine tours, etc. (www.gadventures.com)

Cruise Sheet – Pick up a good deal on a cruise with some selling for less than $25 a day. (www.cruisesheet.com)

Travel Sharing / Home Exchange

Easynest – Useful for solo travellers, this site lets users post their hotel rooms so they can split the cost with another traveller. If you’re OK with having a roommate you cut the price of a room in half. (www.easynest.com)

FlightCar – Rather than pay huge rates to park your car at the airport why not rent it out and make some cash? This site does just that, facilitating the rental of your car to approved travelling members. (flightcar.com)

Airbnb – Search for a room, condo, house or other accommodation from the worldwide network of Airbnb hosts who put their home up for rent. (www.airbnb.com)

HomeExchange – Similar to Airbnb, this site offers a fully functional free trial, unlimited exchanges and free listings with a paid membership. (www.homeexchange.com)

9flats.com – Another home exchange site with a good selection of listings. (www.9flats.com)

 

Guides / Trip Planning

Wikivoyage – The same foundation that runs Wikipedia does it again, this time with a travel focus. Like all wikis this site is open to users to write and edit content. Unlike traditional travel guides it has the potential to go deeper and cover more because there are so many users working on it. (www.wikivoyage.org)

Lonely Planet – A trusted name for travel guides, Lonely Planet is the most successful travel publisher with over 100 million copies sold in over 40 years. The Lonely Planet website builds on the experience and following of the LP brand, offering articles, tours, booking and a high-traffic forum, Thorn Tree, where travellers can offer and receive advice. (www.lonelyplanet.com)

Frommer’s – This guide book publisher’s website features informative travel tips and tools as well as trip ideas, hotels, destinations and a forum. (www.frommers.com)

Tripit – This travel planning app gathers all your flights, hotel bookings and whatever other plans you add to it and keeps track of it for you. It can pull booking confirmations directly from your email account or you can add them manually or forward the confirmation emails to Tripit. It also supports team travel so you can coordinate where everyone in your group is and at what time. (www.tripit.com)

Viator – A travel booking site specifically for tours and activities. Viator bills itself as a site for insider travelling because they pre-vet all the tours they list and they also have verified reviews and photos to make sure that you make the right decision. (www.viator.com)

Vayable – From walking tours to wine tastings, you can hire local guides to show you around or even list your own tours and earn money as a travel guide. (www.vayable.com)

Wheretostay Tips – They publish articles on a variety of travel-related topics and things to do/see in various areas, from the most cost-effective hotels to getting from the airport to the city centre—and, of course, the best restaurants to visit.

Accommodation

Couchsurfing – Enter the sharing economy as a Couchsurfer or a host. Hosts make couches available in their home, usually for a short period of time. It’s a nice exchange where the host and traveller get to share travel stories and build a connection. It’s also nice to meet locals to introduce you to a new place. (www.couchsurfing.org)

Hostelworld– A booking site specifically for finding hostels. Their rating system is particularly helpful since many hostels can be quite dodgy. (www.hostelworld.com)

Agriturismo – Italy is known for a particular kind of tourism called agriturismo, a rural vacation where you enjoy a relaxing time immersed in nature on the farm, (www.agriturismo.it)

Farm Stay U.S. – An equivalent to agriturismo is a farm stay. This booking site is focused on the United States. (www.farmstayus.com)

Reviews

TripAdvisor – With such a large base of users TripAdvisor has grown into the go-to resource for finding travel reviews. You can never really know the intention of a reviewer, but if you find enough reviews singing praises of a place or trashing it, it can be a good assessment of a place. (www.tripadvisor.com)

The Backpacker – A reviews site similar to TripAdvisor but focused on hostels. (www.thebackpacker.com)

Travel ideas

WWOOF – Worldwide Opportunities on Organic Farms is an organization that links volunteers with farms. In exchange for working about four to six hours a day, farms provide free accommodation and food. This is a great alternative for travellers wanting to gain some hands-on agricultural skills while meeting new people and gaining unique experiences. (www.wwoof.net)

Verge Magazine – A solid resource for volunteering, working and studying abroad, Verge features numerous blogs and articles on their website as well as a comprehensive directory of programs. (www.vergemagazine.com)

Fellowship for Intentional Communities – The FIC runs a directory that lists intentional communities that travellers can visit for anywhere from a day to months, years or even permanently. Intentional communities are planned residential communities in which like-minded people come together to live out their common vision and lifestyle. There are many opportunities to learn hands-on practical skills, attend spiritual teachings and live an alternative lifestyle. (www.ic.org)

Travel-living – Travel-living is an alternative way to travel that’s a cross between travelling and living: working flexible telecommute jobs, volunteering and getting to know a culture by spending lots of time living in one place before moving on. The Mindful Word’s travel-living section offers a number of tips and helpful articles on the topic. (www.themindfulword.org/category/travel-living)

Retreat Finder – Whether you’re looking for a relaxing Yoga getaway or want to learn Buddhism, you can find any retreat-related event on this site. (www.retreatfinder.com)

Slow Travel – This site is focused on a different approach to travel where more time is spent in one place, deeply getting to know it rather than dashing from one place to the next. Read trip reports and detailed information on vacation rentals, restaurants and activities from other slow travellers. (www.slowtrav.com)

Learning languages

Pimsleur – An effective method for learning a language quickly, the Pimsleur approach to learning is auditory-based, in which learners listen and respond to audio recordings. (www.pimsleur.com)

Transitions Abroad – A comprehensive resource for finding language schools all around the world. It’s also a handy resource for working, teaching, studying, volunteering and living abroad. (www.transitionsabroad.com/listings/study/language)

Live Mocha – Online language learning site that hooks language learners up with native speakers. (livemocha.com)

Computer software and appsPrograms like Rosetta Stone and Anki, and apps like DuoLingo and Innovative Language are effective and convenient to use. Learning a few words a day on your mobile is a great way to building up a strong vocabulary. These tools can help you do that and most are free! (www.rosettastone.com; ankisrs.net; www.duolingo.com; www.innovativelanguage.com)

Travel gear

REIThis U.S.-based retailer offers a great selection of travel and outdoor gear along with top-notch customer service and a 100 percent satisfaction guaranteed return policy. (www.rei.com)

Camping WorldChoose from a wide range of camping and RV gear. (www.campingworld.com)

Rand McNallyA trusted source for maps, atlases and GPS accessories. (www.randmcnally.com)

TravelSmith – This site has an extensive selection of travel accessories, luggage, clothing and more. (www.travelsmith.com)

Amazon Travel – Find just about everything else for travelling. Amazon also makes the Kindle, a great alternative to paper books for saving space in your luggage. (www.amazon.com/Travel)

Health

WHO International Travel and Health – Information and advice on diseases, vaccines, health risks, precautions and more. (www.who.int/ith)

CDC Travel Health – This site provides travel health notices, advice on vaccines, medicine, a disease directory and more useful information (www.cdc.gov/travel)

Travel alerts

U.S. Department of State Alerts and Warnings – This site provides up-to-date travel warnings to advise you what to watch out for wherever you’re travelling. (travel.state.gov)

Weather

The Weather Channel – Find detailed hourly forecasts as well as weekly, bi-weekly and monthly forecasts. Another handy function is searching the historical weather statistics of a place to see what the weather is usually like at a certain time of year. (www.weather.com)

 

Visa information

Project Visa – Learn how to get visas for different countries on this helpful database. (www.projectvisa.com) 

 

Travel insurance

World Nomads – This company specializes in flexible travel insurance. They provide coverage for medication, evacuation, 24-hour emergency assistance and many adventure activities for residents of over 150 countries. They also allow you to buy insurance once you’ve already left for your trip and make a claim or extend your insurance while travelling. (www.worldnomads.com)

Allianz – Another option for travel insurance from the world’s largest insurance company. (www.allianztravelinsurance.com)

BUPA – An insurance company that specializes in providing health insurance for expats and long-term travellers rather than short-term travel insurance. (www.bupa.com)

Travel credit cards

Chase Sapphire Preferred – This card gives you 2x points on all travel and restaurant purchases and 1x points on everything else you buy. They’ll also give you 40,000 bonus points if you spend $3,000 in the first three months. (creditcards.chase.com)

Barclaycard Arrival World Mastercard – On this card you also earn 2x points on travel and restaurants and 1x on other purchases. There’s no annual fee and they’ll give you 20,000 bonus miles if you spend $1,000 in the first 90 days. (www.barclaycardarrival.com/arrival-travel)

Travel blogs

Matador NetworkThis travel site features an extensive array of travel blogs on all different topics. They also run an online university to teach you travel writing, photography and filmmaking. (www.matadornetwork.com)

Tripoto –  A different kind of travel blog, Tripoto lets users post their trips then the site maps out the specific itinerary, directions and costs, giving readers a good amount of detail to plan out their trips. (www.tripoto.com)

UB Hawthorn has been travel-living across the world since 2007 while writing and editing for The Mindful Word and freelancing for various other publications.Read more of his writing»

This article was excerpted from Journeybook: A Guided Travel Journal and Trip Planner to Inspire and Facilitate Your Travels, . Buy the book>>

image: UB Hawthorn (Creative Commons BY-SA)