Planning travel in a worldwide web

Metung, Australia

I remember planning my first big trip.  I was 20 and I was heading off to "do Europe" for six weeks.  Planning the trip was almost as much fun as the trip itself.  I had been dreaming of going to Europe, especially France, since I was a child.  I decided to go more than a year before I got on the plane and I spent all my spare time in that year on the project.  I invested in my Europe on a Budget Lonely Planet guide and spent hours reading it, I borrowed countless other books from the library, quizzed everyone I knew that had been anywhere in Europe, watched films and documentaries, and, of course, perused the internet.  I never got bored of planning that trip.   The trip itself was amazing, exceeding my every expectation, and ensuring that I would spend the rest of my life saving for my "next trip".

I still love travel, but somehow the shine of planning has somehow worn off.  I enjoy daydreaming about and researching trips, but the actual nuts and bolts of planning I don't enjoy like I used to.  I'm sure there are many factors, but one of the big reasons is the Internet.  Don't get me wrong, the Internet is an amazing resource for travellers, with endless information.  But somehow the sheer abundance of information at your fingertips is part of the problem.  It's so easy to become overwhelmed, so difficult to establish what's useful and what's useless, and just so many options.  (Plus, its just not the same as a good ole LP and a highlighter!)

I have recently been researching a couple of trip ideas and while becoming confused and overwhelmed, I've narrowed down the online sources that I use.  For those of you who may, like me, find the internet just a little bit overwhelming when it comes to travel information, here are what I think are some of the more useful sites.

Advice & Answers
If you're looking for advice from other travellers then try Lonely Planet's Thorntree forum ( and Tripadvisor's forum (  More often than not, I find that a quick search shows that the questions I have have already been asked and I often find the answers to a number of other questions that I hadn't thought to ask. Thorntree does seem to have more information and more contributors, but TripAdvisor seems to be a little bit friendlier.  Personally, I like to use both.

Although I have a bookshelf that proves my love for Lonely Planet guides, if I'm online I'll usually go for Frommers.  I find there's more helpful information on  One of my favourite things about Frommers are the walking tours.  For just about any major city they will have one, if not more, walking tours complete with map.  A great find for the independent/budget traveller.

Reviews - as has been reported many times Trip Advisor is definitely flawed.  But that doesn't change the fact that it's one of the best sources of reviews by other travellers   You need to take the reviews with a grain of salt and be aware of the limitations of this site, but its definitely helpful.  I also really like that you can find "real" (rather than professional) and recent photos here. - apart from the booking facility, Agoda includes reviews from its customers.  The advantage Agoda has over TripAdvisor is that you must have booked accommodation at that hotel through Agoda to be able to post a review, thus the authenticity is better on Agoda.  Also Agoda generally has lots of photos which are helpful for decision making

Flights and transport - this website is AWESOME.  So simple, so useful.  You simply enter your origin and your destination and Rome2Rio gives you all your transport options (flights, trains, buses, cars), along with timings, you can then enter your travel dates to get the airfares on major carriers. - you've got to love a search engine which will let you search from flights to "everywhere", seriously!  It's also great for figuring out which airlines fly from/to your destination. - has some great functionality to help you check for possible flight itineraries.  One of my favourites is the "Nearby" function which allows you to select flights to airports within so many miles of your chosen destination.  A great tool if you've got some flexibility and want to figure out which itinerary is going to be most cost effective.

Trains - If you are even thinking about getting on a train overseas you should check out this site.  Best train resource by far.

There are numerous sites for booking flights and hotels, but my personal favourites are and   Both relatively easy to use and tend to have reasonable offers.  Of course, if you really want to find the best deal you need to check the individual airlines' sites as well.

Hotel Bookings
My two favourites are and  These are both easy to use, and, in my experience, tend to have the best prices.  If comparing these two sites, be aware that Wotif includes taxes and service chargeswhereas Agoda adds them when you book.

These are just some of my favourites, and this list is by no means exhaustive.  What are you favourites, and why?  Have I missed any gems?

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