Here are a few helpful travel resource sites that we use:
Read reviews on hotels, restaurants, and tour companies and see real traveler photos. You can ask questions of your fellow travelers on forums and read other people’s questions and answers as well. We never book a hotel without consulting Tripadvisor first. There is also a handy smartphone app.
2. Google Maps
I use Google Maps just about every day. Check traffic, get directions, find out when the next bus is coming, figure out what hotels or restaurants are near a specific location, etc. etc. You can even drag the little person icon down to the street and see what the street looks like. You can virtually walk down the street in a multitude of foreign countries!
I went to New York recently and had to navigate all over Brooklyn and Manhattan with some other friends who weren’t local while my local host was at work. Google Maps got me everywhere easily and taught me how to navigate the New York Subway system. By the end of the day, I felt like a pro. All I had to do was type in the name of the place I wanted to go to, and hit the public transport option, and it told me where the nearest subway stop was and what train to get on. I’m still a fan of old school maps, but the Google Maps phone app is one of my best friends.
3. CDC Travel Health Website
If you are going to a third world country, you will want to check and see if there are any vaccinations you want to get ahead of time. The Center for Disease Control will tell you what vaccinations are required or recommended for specific countries.
4. The State Department travel website
If you are American, you can visit the State Department site to find out if there are any visa requirements for the country you want to visit, as well as look to see if there are travel advisories for the country you are going to.
5. XE Currency Converter
This is the quickest and easiest currency converter I’ve found. Get accurate rates for any world currency. There is also a handy smartphone app.
Booking.com and Tripadvisor are my number one sites to visit when I look for hotels. Booking.com has many more hotels and B&Bs than any other hotel booking site I’ve used, and you can read and write reviews. Narrow your search by neighborhood within a city, nearby landmark, price, etc. The rates are also usually the best. I’ve even received “Genius” discounts after writing several reviews. I can view past bookings, upcoming bookings, contact the hotel through the Booking.com site, and easily cancel my reservation.
Sometimes, a hotel isn’t always the best option. If you are on a tight budget, traveling with a group and want to rent a house, or just want a the cultural experience of staying with a host, Airbnb is a great option. Locals rent out their houses, apartments, or rooms in their house for you to stay in. We found Airbnb to be the best option for our trip to Stockholm, Sweden as hotels are extremely expensive there. Not only are we getting an entire one-bedroom apartment in a great neighborhood for less than a hotel room, but we will have a full kitchen to prepare meals if we want to save money. Hosts/accommodations have reviews (and hosts can review you as a guest as well).
8. Travel Honey
This is a new site, and currently they don’t have any content up yet but we submitted our Iceland itinerary for them and the site premise sounds pretty great–real itineraries and reviews by real travelers. Read about other people’s trip itineraries and adventures to help you plan your own. This will be a bit more in depth than Tripadvisor, and will provide entire trip scenarios and budgets. We are looking forward to seeing their site when it is up sometime in early 2017.