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If you’re the kind of person that likes to go off the beaten track, than the best way to get your inspiration from is from the savvy travellers, who will often write about their travels on their own travel blog.
Others collaborative resources are also a good starting point as well. Me personally, I like to read articles from Atlas Obscura, Let’s Travel Somewhere or Roads and Kingdoms. But the best if to catch up on the work your favourite travellers, photographers, writers and wonderers are on at the moment.
Hashtags on Instagram can be a really easy and instant source of inspiration for your wanderlust. Type in things such as #TravelStoke (from Matador Network), #NatGeo, or #wander_souls. If you aren’t looking for general destinations but rather have your heart set on a country or place, type in the countries name in a hashtag.
Apart from Instagram, Pinterest is an interesting start point as well. Filled with ideas for those bitten by the wanderlust bug, it allows you to create your very own board and then start pinning down your ideas and inspiration, helping you put up a scratch itinerary.
Official Tourism Boards
These are the official websites of a certain destination you are considering visit. They work promoting the locations, how to get there, where to sleep, what to do, usually have all updated prices and other important information you might be looking for.
As an example, check out the Montanhas Mágicas website (the area where I live), or the Visit Portugal website, from the Tourism board of my beautiful country!
BEFORE YOU GO
Wikitravel is the basics of basics, but being a contributor source means it almost always up to date. It does provide with the essential categories – Understand, Get in, Get around, See, Do, Buy, Eat, and Sleep – and the most important, updated travel alerts right on their homepage.
Lonely Planet is probably the most popular guide books there are, but they come in different forms. The traditional books are a favourite, with the disadvantage they get outdated pretty fast. You can also choose the ebook version of the normal guide books, which come in cheaper, and a lot lighter, so it saves up on your backpacking weight as well. You can just download it and see it on your smartphone or computer.
But it also has apps for your smartphone, like the Guides by Lonely Planet. You just pick the city, download it’s contents, and you’ll have key tips on what to see, where to sleep, eat, how to go, with the same quality as usual, but free!
Inspirock is a “no-brainer” itinerary planning website, as they automatically create an itinerary for you, including restaurants and sights you want to visit. From here, you just need to tailor it to your own likes!
Momondo is a great source for different searches, but the one I find more useful, is the flight search. Besides the price comparison, it also features a really good tool for how to find the best flights: which days of the week, what better times to fly or how long in advance to book, are just some of the tips you’ll find there. If you are travelling on a budget, and are open about travel dates, this can be really helpful for money saving!
Google Flights is one of the best flight search tools, to the point it even tells you punctuality of the airlines and how much legroom to expect! It will also let you know, if the results as ad based, or not, so you can always take that into consideration before purchasing your flight.
Tell Flystein what’s your budget, and it will try to match your price! It’s particularly good helping you find the cheapest route with difficult flight combinations. You can even make a trip request on their website and then they will get in touch with you to help you out. Their staff sprinkles some magic on your travel details, airline miles and other points you have, and finds a way to get you there for a lower price. Trick is: there’s a fee if they beat your price, but you still save some money.
Last but not least, Seat Guru helps you choose the best seat on the plane, according to your flight number. If you hate getting that A seat, that doesn’t have a window, need a plug for your laptop, or just want that extra legroom, you’ve must go here first: If you’re sitting on a “green seat”, you know it’s going to be a great flight!
If you are wondering how to get from point A to B, Rome2Rio is the place to check. It gives you the best transportation alternatives between two points, including trains and buses, so you can compare if a train ride is cheaper than a flight. It’s a good starting point for organising your itineraries!
GoEuro is the most popular all-in-one website for booking your travels in Europe, for bus, train and flight tickets.
The Man in Seat Sixty-One
This is my favourite, because I’m passionate for train travelling! The Man in Seat Sixty-One was my start point when I did my first Transiberian journey, and it is my standalone resource for ANY train travel I plan doing. It is incredibly detailed, comprehensive and exhaustive for train travel anywhere, it really is an incredible source of information for your rail journeys. The level of detail in his reviews and the tips he provides are simply mind-blowing.
I use booking.com a lot to research and make reservations for accommodations for my travels. It has pretty much every type of accommodation in the market, from dorm beds to luxury hotels. You can customise the searching according to your needs: budget, location on the map, meals included, ratings, and many other possibilities!
Some people are skeptical about “sleeping at strangers”, but I’m a huge fan of Couchsurfing. Not for the budget side of travelling (although that also helps!), but because I think the best way to get to know a new place and a new culture, it’s blending in with the locals. And what a better way of doing so, that actually living with them? Couchsurfing has shown me the most beautiful things in different locations, and the best is that hosts and guests usually stay friends! From learning the local language, tasting local foods, hanging out with locals, the opportunities are endless. As a guest, it’s also good to bring hosts some local gifts from wherever you come from. I like to treat my hosts some wine or food 🙂
Sleeping in Airports
Ok, this is not really somewhere you’d ideally sleep, but truth is, sometimes we have to sleep at airports, mostly due to those ridiculously early morning flights, missed / long connections, or delayed flights. So, Sleeping in Airports is a website that tells you everything you need to know about an airport: best sofas to crash, hotel pods, premium lounges, smoking areas, restaurants that are open 24 hours? Seriously, I’ve had to sleep in airports a few times, and this website is always like a bible to me when I have to prepare for it in advance.
Over the time I use Airbnb less and less, but it still is a great option when travelling. In the beginning, Airbnb was like a way of putting your home for rent whilst away, or even renting a spare room to a traveller rather than having to find someone long-term. The feel, was the same as Couchsurfing, but you’d pay for your accommodation, and instead of crashing on a sofa you’d most likely have an entire room or flat for your own. However, with the course of time, you now have fully tourist-oriented accommodation, usually with all amenities any traveller may need, but with probably less contact with the true locals, as now it has become more business-led. Regardless of that, it is a great option for those seeking to stay in local homes, instead of the more common hotel rooms. It also has the advantage of finding accommodation in places where you can’t find a hotel or a hostel.
Trusted Housesitters for me, has the best of both worlds: you get to stay in an authentic accommodation, with the plus of hanging out with pets (I’m dog lover, no hiding that – getting to stay at a place for free AND cuddle dogs all day?? I’M IN!). It does come with a yearly-subscription fee, but I think it’s ok – I wouldn’t leave my dog with just anyone, and the fees go to the team that works full time on verifying users.
A happy crossover between Airbnb / Wild Camping, Campr is an online community for people to list, explore and book private and alternative campsites around the world. It allows you to rediscover your love for the outdoors and camp through the eyes of a local. It is indeed the perfect way to get off the beaten path!
Spotted by Locals
The best thing about Spotted by Locals it that it’s a great little app, as it handpicks locals to write about their best places to eat. That’s how you know the gastronomy experiences you’ll embrace are genuinely selected by locals. Each local city comes at a small fee, but worth the price is you are a true food lover.
If meat is out of your diet, than HappyCow is your food bible when you are travelling. It helps you find vegan and vegetarian restaurants near you. If meat is not your thing, HappyCow will help you find your greens!
Zomato is another app that aggregates reviews from food critics, bloggers and regular costumers. The best part of Zomato is that is covers many more countries than its competitors. You can even check what’s on the menu, to help you decide better.
TheFork and OpenTable
Both TheFork and OpenTable feature thousands of restaurants and million reliable reviews to help you choose where to eat! They stand out from Zomato, because you can book directly, and often they’ll even give you sweet deals on groups reservations. It works in english, so even you you’d like to make a reservation in a country where english isn’t widely spoken, here you know language will not be a barrier!
Wikipedia has the most accurate information online about visa’s per passport. They don’t have like a designated page for all nationalities, so best thing is to do a seach for “visa requirements for Portuguese citizens”, for instance. the complete link looks like this: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Visa_requirements_for_Portuguese_citizens, so you can also try and replace “Portuguese” for the nationality you are interested in searching.
Another very popular tool for checking visa requirements, is actually the Emirates website. It’s detailed to the point of visa information for stop-overs and transitory visas as well.
In the planning phase, when you are deciding where to go, it may be a good idea to check visa requirements first to avoid unpleasant surprises. Emirates provides this data based on the travel association IATA so you know it is accurate!
Another very useful website is the visalist.io. Simply insert your country, and the website will show you a coloured coded map for an easy visual reference of where you can travel with your passport: visa-free, e-visa, visa on arrival or visa refused. It will also give you a little briefing on your passport level, as well as a brief introduction on all different countries, with currencies, languages spoken, so you can also start prepping your travels there.
INSURANCE & TRAVELLERS HEALTH
Vaccinations are not only a health precaution but can also be a requirement when travelling to certain countries. But other health recommendations may also be crucial for your travels. I always ask my travellers from Portugal to do the “Consulta do Viajante“, the travellers health appointment in Portugal. But you can also learn about the health issues in a destination you’re planning to travel to by consulting websites like NHS’s Fit For Travel and the CDC – Centre for Disease Control and Prevention. The OMS also has the most up-to-date info.
Big Cat Travel Insurance
Big Gat Travel Insurance offers the most competitive prices on the market, and their coverage is extensive a you can tailored to your needs. Even though I have never use them myself (to the extent of opening a case, I mean!), their reviews and widely positive. I recommend Big Cat Travel Insurance for all your travels.
Globelink Travel Insurance
I always recommend Globelink Travel Insurance, if you are a European Citizen and travelling anywhere below 3500m (they do not have insurance coverage above that). Their insurance is fast and affordable, and you can tailor it down to your specific travel needs. It’s also the cheapest on the market, and with the lowest excess fees.
Google Trips gathers all your bookings for a specific trip into the app without any effort or interaction on your side. No need to forward your bookings to another app and going through the hassle of making sure the inputs are properly added, Google Trips will pick it all up from your Gmail and combine them together.
For a flight booking you will see the departure terminal or gate, any delays and all the flight details including seat numbers and booking confirmations. For hotel bookings it will add a small map, place address and phone numbers handily in case you need to tell the driver or call the hotel. You can even download a quick guide for the destination with top spots, indoor and outdoor activities and places to eat and drink with all the review info from Google.
Maps.me has changed my life on the road. You can also download the city or country you’re visiting for offline use and use the app as a great way to find green spaces, from trekking trails to restaurants, take notes, pin spots, find city routes. Because it is a crowdsourced app, you can also correct / add information, and even in the most remote locations you may find some interesting spots. It also helps with routes walking, cycling and driving.
The future of banking arrived a few years ago, and has gotten better than ever. Revolut gives immediate updates every time you use your card, offers bank account details in different currencies for receiving money, allows you do send and receive money immediately from any other Revolut user. On top of that, you can also add insurance and other services with them directly.
I love Wikiloc because I love hiking! With the app, you can find trails for all activities: walking, trekking, cycling, skiing, horse-riding, and the list goes on… You can record your trail, save and share it. Whilst you are recording, you can add achors with photos and other info, and you also see live the recorded trail, altitude and distance.