Following my ‘How to survive the travelling blues’ blog, I began trawling through the seemingly endless list of travel related websites to looking for advice and inspiration. There are so many ways to make planning your own adventure so much easier. I have compiled a list of the highlights of my own search. From Government advice to transport booking sites, there is a website for everything.
1) Best for important country information
This is the number one site for any trip! If you are thinking of visiting a country, it is always best to check out the FCO website for travel advice. If there are any political disturbances or medical issues that you need to be aware of, this is the reliable place to find the information that you need. It is also a fantastic place to check visa requirements and general information about the country’s tourism.
2) Best for reviews
There are loads of review sites out there, some that are more specific. However, if you are looking for a review site that covers everything from hotels to attractions, unsurprisingly, Trip Advisor is the king!
3) Best for converting currency
When you travel abroad, it is important to get the exchange rate clear in your head. If you don’t, you run the risk of being ripped off. It is always difficult at an airport, trying desperately to figure out how much your taxi should be. Checking in advance will make the start to your journey hassle free. XE updates their website regularly meaning that the exchange rates that you look up will be completely accurate.
4) Best for checking the weather
There are loads of weather forecast sites on the web. There are some that are specific to certain countries (e.g. Met Office – UK). However, if you want a good ‘does what is says on the tin’ type of site – weather forecast is the site for you!
5) Best for sharing pictures
The list is endless. There are many apps and sites where sharing your photos is possible. I like drop box because it is easy and lacks the gimics of other sites. I don’t have to have a profile or let millions of people see; I can simply upload them and share with the people I choose. I can also keep the quality of the photos, which is often difficult if you rely solely on sites such as Facebook.
6) Best Travel blog
The art to finding the perfect blog for you is to find someone that you relate to. There are blogs written especially for young, old, rich, poor, families, solo travellers and couples. You may find somebody who has similar tastes to you like a food blogger or someone who travels to amazing destinations for music. Search around for your favourite, but a warning before you start- leave plenty of time; there is a lot to read and it’s easy to loose time. I like Matt’s blog because his style of writing is very down to earth. Get reading… but be prepared for the inevitable jealousy when you hear about his amazing adventures.
7) Best for medical advice
At Oyster, we recommend this website for its up to date information about health issues worldwide. It is a great place to check which vaccinations you may need to visit a certain country. Obviously, talk to your local GP before you go anywhere, but this site will help you feel further educated about the potential health risks of your trip.
8) Best for festival information
Want to know what events are happening in your chosen destination or do you want to base a trip around a festival? This website lists everything from Air Guitar Championships to festivals of mud. You name the country; it will find you amazing and bizarre events in that area.
9) Best Travellers’ Forum
Although less popular than its Lonely Planet counterpart, I find the Rough Guides forum an easy site to navigate. Worker of Rough guides are also present in conversations which means that there is often someone in the industry to answer any questions that you might have. Like blogs, forums are based on preference so don’t just take my word for it, trial a few yourself.
10) Best search engine for flights
There are probably three of four recognisable sites known for flight comparisons. My personal favourite is Sky Scanner. It is quick, easy and compares lots of different airlines to find you the cheapest options. It is a no fuss, time efficient way to get your flights booked, ready for your trip abroad.
11) Best for planning a car journey
Want to drive somewhere abroad? If there are roads, this site can plan your route. It does give you traffic information, but this is local to the UK only which is a shame. http://www.viamichelin.co.uk/ is a close second. There is nothing more exciting than hiring a car and exploring a new destination. Just make sure you swat up on the rules and regulations before you head off.
12) Best for planning a rail journey
Travelling round developed cities is often best done by train. This website every urban train map from around the world. It isn’t great for hopping from one place to the other, but is good if you are exploring a specific city. If you want to know how to get between countries by train www.seat61.com is a better option.
13) Best for creating a travel itinerary
If you aren’t great at organising yourself before a trip, Travefy is a great way to create an itinerary using all of you confirmations. You just need to load all your confirmations onto your online profile and then they create an itinerary for you… pretty easy- right?
14) Best for advice about packing
If baggage restrictions scare you and you freak every time your bag is weighed at the check-in, it is time to seek advice. This website offers you guidance on what you really need to take. Let’s face it most of the time we don’t use half of the things we pack. Stop packing the kitchen sink and lose pound on those scales.
15) Best for planning your flight
Want advice about the plane you will be on? Seat Guru compares plane models and seating plans and offer advice on which seats are the most comfortable. A site set up for those truly fascinated by all things to do with aviation, it can turn an uncomfortable long haul flight into a bearable experience.
16) Best for finding out time zones
With so much international travelling, it’s hard to keep up with all of your new travelling friends, let alone make sure that you are skyping them at ‘friendly’ times. Use this site to work out the time anywhere in the world. The big map, although very busy, shows you the time everywhere in the world at once. A bit overwhelming, but very useful!
With so many sites to help make travelling easier, there really is nothing stopping you living your dream. If you want to take a gap year or career break and spend some time travelling abroad, take a look at the Oyster Worldwide website and get some travelling inspiration.