If you’re anything like me, you find booking a trip a rather overwhelming affair. Through years of DIY bookings, I’ve come to discover some much-loved websites and brands that have revolutionised the travel experience.
Below is a comprehensive list of all the websites I use to organise and executive my travels.
Please note, this page contains affiliate links. If you buy something through one of my links, I could earn a small commission (at no extra cost to you). It helps keep ARoamerTherapy ticking over 🙂
Click on the particularly resource or service you’re looking for below:
Before we get into the websites and resources I use to organise my transport, I have a few important tips for you:
- Try to book your flights directly with the airline! This helps to eliminate issues and keep airlines accountable for your booking.
Hands down this is where I always start my search for the best flight deals. I love the flexibility Skyscanner offers when searching for flights. You can:
- Select the whole month to find the cheapest travel days.
- Select direct vs indirect flights.
- Filter by travel time or cost.
One thing I really love about Skyscanner is its “Everywhere” functionality. If you just need to get out of your hometown, just type in your departure city and write “Everywhere” in the destination box. It’ll show you the cheapest flights you can take from your city.
Of course, Skyscanner now also includes hotels and car hire so you can even plan your entire trip through them.
There are many of these websites out there, designed to curate the cheapest deals on the web. But CheapFlights is another website that I find relatively straightforward and easy to use. It can sometime deliver cheaper deals than what’s found on Skyscanner, purely because it often covers different airlines.
I love this website, even though I haven’t actually made a booking through them yet!
So this one is for Aussies only, but I Know the Pilot combs the internet for amazing real-time deals to all your favourite travel locations.
You can jump on their website, sign up for emails, or follow them on social media. If you’re thinking about a destination, keep an eye out for their deals. They’ve got tonnes of cheap flights popping through for Bali, Las Vegas, Honolulu, and so forth.
The only issue is that they quote return flights for two-week trips. I haven’t tried to book anything for longer through these deals, but if you figure out how, please let me know in the comments section!
Anyone who has tried to find an obscure route through Europe, Asia, or wherever will have come across (and fallen in love with) Rome2Rio.
This websites collates every possible mode of transport (except, perhaps, donkeys or tuk tuks) to help you get from A to B.
You can enter addresses or landmarks and they’ll show you the best combinations for reaching your destination. You can also have a helluva lotta fun inputting really random origins and destinations to watch the website/app work its magic and plot out a route for you.
This is kinda like the Airbnb of transport websites. BlaBlaCar teams up independent road trippers with travellers in need of an efficient route to their next destination.
It’s mostly confined to Europe at the moment (with a few other random countries thrown in – India and Mexico among them). But here’s to hoping it spreads to the States and Australia!
I actually used BlaBlaCar to blitz the 4hour drive from Salamanca in Spain to Lisbon. Without this option, the only other alternative was to return to Madrid and endure an overnight train ride to Portugal’s capital city. Bleugh. I also saved some precious mullah with the trip!
Enter BlaBlaCar. It helps if you’ve got a working mobile number for the country you’re in (or at least access to WhatsApp) and it also helps if you can speak at least a little of the local language.
If you can, you’re gonna have an amazing ride! You’ll likely meet some locals – or awesome road tripping travellers – who could quickly turn into friends.
WARNING: This is often a social thing! If you’re an introverted traveller who just likes to listen to music and gaze out the window at the passing scenery, it might not be for you.
This is a cool website I only recently discovered. It gathers info for all the various shuttles you can get to and from the airport to your accommodation. Then it helps you reserve the best option.
I did once have a hiccup where they included a shuttle service that no longer took bookings through their website. But when I notified the website, I received an immediate refund and was able to instantly book an alternative.
Great for when taxis are just too expensive and public transport is non-existent!
Uber & Other Riding Apps
Uber has revolutionised the way we travel for one very simple reason. The drivers can’t jack up the prices because we’re tourists. No bartering needed.
And for that reason, I love it.
Uber is in SO many countries and it does make life easy. Heading from the small neighbourhood of Roma to Mexico City Airport, I ordered an Uber Pool (an option where you share the ride with other travellers to save costs) and had the whole ride to myself for a fraction of the cost. Boo ya.
But there are other apps – especially in Asia – that do just as well. In some ways, they’re even better than Uber. These include:
- Grab – a fantastic one for fast, cross-city transport on the back of someone’s motorbike.
- GO-JEK – a really good option is you’re in Indonesia. Again, it works best if you’re ordering a motorbike taxi.
This is a juicy website that has seriously saved my arse. Ever notice how sometimes when you go to check in at the airport, you need to show proof of an onward ticket? It’s a condition of entry for the country you’re going to.
The airlines get punished big time if they let you on their plane without seeing that you plan to leave the country at some point.
But what if you’re a whimsical backpacker who doesn’t like to be tied down to a specific departure date? Or you haven’t quite figured out where you’re going yet? Or you’re gonna cross over land borders, which you don’t really need a ticket for (yet).
Enter “rentable” tickets.
How it works with Best Onward Ticket is that you pay them US$12 to loan you a ticket for 48 hours. Doesn’t matter where you’re going. My “ticket” out of Guatemala was to Atlanta. Out of Mexico, it was to Amsterdam.
But I did get asked for proof heading into Guate and when I showed them my ticket from Best Onward Flight, it saved my butt. Best Onward Ticket is efficient and fast at what they do.
But to make my ticket look as legit as possible (and to test their system), I actually go to the airline website for the itinerary they’ve given me. I type in the confirmation code and seriously, my booking appears.
Then I get the airline itself to send me another email with the itinerary, et voila! I’ve got myself an email from Delta or KLM or whoever with proof I’m flying out. How cool is that?
I’m a fussy accom gal. For a good 8 years or so, I used to be able to do dorms easily. I loved hostels – the ease with which you meet wonderful travellers to undertake all your adventures with you.
But then I got old and suddenly, my light sleeping became a BIG problem in hostels. Now, one little rustle in bed sets me off, let alone a chronic snorer or (god forbid), a horny couple.
There are now various websites I use to find the best deals wherever I am.
I’m reverting more and more to Airbnb lately. Oftentimes, they offer cheaper private room accommodations than hostels.
They can also offer a little something extra that makes the experience incredibly worthwhile. Through Airbnb, I have:
- Stayed in a gorgeous $25/night room in Ubud, complete with pool and surrounded by rice paddies.
- Stayed in a fully equipped, $25/night studio in Higuera Blanca, Mexico. It came with a private kitchen, bathroom and patio.
- Stayed in a gallery and mingled with artists in San Miguel, Mexico.
- Shared tea and cakes and discussed philosophy with my host in Mexico City.
Again, as an introvert, it’s sometimes difficult to find an Airbnb where you’ll enjoy plenty of privacy sans social obligations. Just be sure to read the reviews; they give you a good gauge on privacy/socialising.
If you’ve never gone down the Airbnb route, I highly recommend giving it a go! And if it’s your first time, click here to get $50 travel credit when you sign up!
An oldie but a goodie. Hostelworld used to be my go-to option every time I had to book accom. Nowadays, I still use it, but I filter the search options to present only hostels with private rooms. Sometimes, none will show up – and that’s when I look elsewhere.
Also, don’t assume that hostels will always provide the cheapest private rooms in town. In Antigua, Guatemala, even the cheapest hostel privates were double or even triple the price of Airbnbs or guesthouses in town.
A classic one for those who prefer resorts and hotels. Budget traveller that I am, Booking.com is my last resort (baha pun unintended), but often a necessary route if you’re looking for a better quality/private option in a city.
Thankfully, you can filter out dorm room options and sort by price – normally I go lowest to highest costs and then scroll down until I find the first place with an 8.5 review or higher.
Hmm. This one is soooo hit and miss. I’ve had one Couchsurfing experience. It involved my host guiding me into the middle of the Norwegian woods before he stripped down to go skinny dipping.
I’m also certain he walked into my room in the middle of the night and stood over my bed for a minute. I’m still rather hoping that was a dream. Anyway, nice guy. He piled a bag full of fresh bread when I eschewed his hospitality and promptly booked a BnB the next day.
Plus that whole obligation to socialise thing … doesn’t really befit an introverted traveller.
But hey, I also have a friend who met his future wife through Couchsurfing. You win some, you lose some.
I always get travel insurance. Call me cautious, but I’d just rather have the backup should my plane be cancelled and I have to find some hotel to crash in for the night. Or should my expensivo digital nomad equipment be nabbed on the road. And oh yeh, the whole medical thing too.
I NEVER go with the same company without looking for quote comparisons first. As a cheapskate, I like to find the perfect mix of quality offerings for a minimal price. Below are some of the websites and companies I’ve used and would use again.
Hands down the best site I use to find cheap insurance quotes. You can compare thousands of travel insurance products with varying degrees of coverages.
Just remember that not all brands are shown through Compare The Market! I tend to also search out individual companies as well and then just commit to the best deal.
I also ALWAYS independently check reviews online to see how the companies match up. Many insurance companies have truly abysmal ratings – why get it at all then?!
One company that consistently delivers excellent ratings (and just GETS travel) is World Nomads. Their customer service is great, their policies comprehensive. And you can extend the policy while you’re abroad.
The only downside – and the one deterrent for me – is that they’re not the cheapest company around. If I’m in a rush or I just want my insurance quickly and without hassle, these are the guys.
Another huge bonus in their favour is they have a great social responsibility record. World Nomad supports a range of community development projects.
I’ve just come across Fast Cover and boy am I sold. They offered a fantastic price for 8 months of straight travel, and then when I cut short my trip (before starting it), they refunded me the excess amount within hours. It was amazing!
They’ve fully restored my faith in travel insurance companies. Plus I LOVE how easy their website is to use. It makes a difference ya know.
You can even get 20% off your travel insurance excess reduction with the code “20EXCESS”.
It’s always hard figuring out the best way to get currency for your travels. The commissions and conversion fees are often a big rip off.
FYI, I don’t have a credit card, but I believe this is also a helpful option while travelling. Some fellow travellers swear by Amex, Citibank, or the 28 Degrees credit card, which is basically designed for travellers.
Below are some of the methods I use to secure cash and currency overseas.
Australia Post & Travelex
I go through Travelex to get my hard cash. They have a tonne of currencies – I’ve yet to come across one they haven’t been able to give me.
But the main reason I love Travelex is that you can order through Australia Post and pick up your currency at the post office. And who doesn’t have a post office near them, right?
Many airlines offer travel cards, but I just slipped into using the Qantas cash card, and I love it!
It’s a prepaid card and you can load multiple currencies onto it at any given time. You often earn Qantas points just loading currencies onto the card. Then you earn even MORE points using the card overseas (not for withdrawals though!).
Loading currencies onto the card is super easy, although you pay a little extra to get the mullah loaded on the same day.
The great thing about a preloaded card is that if it’s stolen, there’s only so much money the thief has access to. At as soon as you realise it’s missing, you can suspend the card online.
If you find it again, it’s easy to reactivate. But if you don’t, Qantas will send you a new one, easy peasy (I would know – it happened to me!).
The biggest downside to the card is that currencies are fairly limited at this point. Still, even travelling overseas, I’ll upload Aussie Ds onto it and then use it as my main withdrawal option (it costs $2.50 per withdrawal) – beats my bank’s crazy overseas transaction fees!
Travel Research & Resources
Look, as much as the book might be dying, I think Lonely Planet still has a place in travel.
Sure, there are other, better resources now to find cafes and accom. But actually, what I use Lonely Planet’s guidebooks for is to gain a better understanding of the culture and history of the places I’m in.
Yep, I’m that person who reasons all the front and back material. And now that I’ve got a Kindle, the Lonely Planet ebooks make it a whole lot easier to carry. Trust me. The first Lonely Planet guide I took to Europe was a beast and a bitch to lug around the continent for 3.5 months.
To me, they really still are the best travel guide books around.
Guys if you’re students, you really should get on this. The International Student Identity Card works in over 100 countries and gives you a tonne of discounts.
It’s only AU$30 and from the number of serious discounts I got on this card when I was a student, I’d say it’s worth it. Those were the days…
Of course, there are always new resources and websites coming out every day so I keep this page updated to give you the best info/resources as they come in.
If you’ve hit upon a travel website you love, please let me know by contacting me today at aroamertherapy.com.
And if you’re looking for other tips, advice, and insights into travel, be sure to check out my Travel Insights section on the blog!