So, here’s a question I get fairly often:
I’m planning a trip to X/Y/Z. What tools should I use to plan, book, find the best prices, and otherwise be a badass at this whole traveling thing?
And the first thing I should say is that I’m not the best at this by any means. I know people who can travel-hack their way into nearly-free trips, who always know the latest tricks for finding error fares, who spend hours upon hours planning the perfect trip.
I am not really one of them.
Do I have my tricks? For sure. Do I spend a lot of time making sure we get the best Airbnb we can? You betcha. But am I the most in-the-know person when it comes to new online tools? Probably not.
Still, I have my go-tos. The sites I love and use over and over again.
So today I thought I’d share them with you. In case they’re useful.
Rome2Rio: Transportation Planning
When we’re trying to get from point A to point B in Europe, this is the first place I turn. The site allows you to put in your destinations and then it’ll tell you all the different transportation options you could use. Buses. Trains. Cars. Planes. It’s a super quick and easy way to compare the prices and time commitments of every possible option.
Airbnb: Apartment Booking (Everywhere)
We find almost all our apartments around the world via Airbnb (with the notable exceptions being US cities, where Airbnbs are often too pricey for us). The reason we like it better than other sites? Because they’ve got monthly pricing options and they’re usually around 60% off the nightly rate.
Facebook Groups: Apartment Booking (North America)
Since Airbnb in the US have gone insane (like 5x market value), we don’t really use it here anymore. Instead, we turn to places like Craigslist and Facebook housing groups. We start with a Facebook search – “Housing Wanted [city name]” or something similar – and go from there. A Facebook group is how we found our current place in NYC.
Google Flights: Flight Booking
I’m embarrassed to say that it took until about a year ago for me to figure out that Google Flights has some of the best prices out there. It’s also really useful to see the price differences on surrounding days and times, since I’m usually pretty flexible with departure dates.
Adioso: Flight Planning
The other flight site I love? Adioso. I use it when we have a lot of flexibility (like when we know we want to get to Europe, but we don’t care where in Europe). The open-ended destination option is my favorite thing. And the sheer breadth of flexibility with dates is staggering.
Couchsurfing: Making Friends
When people think of Couchsurfing, they think of staying on people’s couches. Which is, of course, how the whole idea started. But it’s only a small part of what the site offers. The way I use it is to find locals who I share interests with and can meet up with. I haven’t done this as much since traveling with Chad, but I used to meet up with other CS folks all the time.
Especially in big cities, another great option for plugging into a community quickly is Meet Up. I use it particularly for networking/professional events, but you could easily use it to find other stuff – hiking clubs or book clubs or language exchange clubs. Sky’s the limit.
HostelWorld: Short-Term Cheap Accommodations
We rarely stay in hostels, but occasionally when we have a short stopover somewhere and want to stay on the cheap, we choose to hostel (in a private room). HostelWorld is my first stop when we’re looking for something like that.
World Time Zone: Doing Business While Traveling
Can’t keep track of the time zone differences? I use this site to check and double check when planning (and making) client calls. Especially for tricky locations like Arizona, where there’s no daylight savings time change.
Annnddd, that’s all she wrote.
My travel planning is pretty simple and my tools are fairly few.
What about you? Any tools to recommend?