Since I started travelling regularly I have learnt a lot when it comes to booking and planning my trips. Whether it’s little routines I perform or parts of the internet I go to visit, there’s usually something that I do to save me a little bit of money, or help maximise my time away.
I thought that I would put together a list of handy links that I use on a regular basis. Some of these websites below have helped me find fantastic details and are some of my most-used resources when sorting out my travelling.
Finding cheap flights
Skyscanner is one of the best starting points when booking travel. Skyscanner searches the web for the cheapest deals it can find for flights and has a flexible search tool which enables great and helpful customisation.
It’s always important to book flights first, as accommodation booking tends to be more flexible with more choice available.
I also believe that it is important to check out each website that offers flights to/from your destination because prices can fluctuate from site-to-site, but most of the time Skyscanner will have the lowest-priced deal on display.
Ryanair are a God-send for Budget travellers in Europe, and they always have reasonably prices fares to a multitude of destinations on the continent, as well as a couple of routes to Africa and Asia.
The no-frills airline are notorious for their low-cost fares and their fare finder tool is great for inspiration.
A lot of people complain about their service, but as long as they get you from A to B safely – that’s all that should matter.
The orange-and-white Ryanair rival is easyJet. Similarly, they offer a whole host of cheap flights to a catalogue of destinations in Europe, western Asia and north Africa.
They sometimes beat Ryanair on price, and have different destinations, too. They're definitely worth checking out if you're planning on travelling around Europe anytime soon.
While Ryanair and easyJet are long established patrons of the UK travel market, Wizz Air is a Hungarian budget airline trying to get a slice of the action.
They have a great range of airports in eastern Europe, serving countries such as Serbia, Moldova and Ukraine which, outside of those countries’ national airlines, aren’t otherwise reachable directly from the United Kingdom.
Just be warned: Wizz’s free hand luggage is backpack-sized, not a small wheeled suitcase which may be the policy of other airlines. That type of baggage incurs an additional cost on Wizz Air.
STA Travel is a youth-minded travel agent, with lots of fares for students and young people.
They also offer accommodation and excursion booking, but they are also a good resource for finding lower-priced flights. If you are under the age of 26 or study at a college or university, they are certainly worth checking out before you confirm a booking.
Booking.com is one of the first websites I check when sorting out a hotel, hostel or other accommodation for my travels.
The Dutch accommodation giants have an astonishing range of rooms on their website, with a great range of filters and sort options to help you find exactly what you want.
Their ‘.genius’ rewards program, which is attained after five different stays booked through Booking.com, offers members a 10% discount and other perks including priority customer service.
And if you’re low on cash right now, there may be value in the ‘FREE CANCELLATION – PAY LATER’ service that they offer on most rooms, allowing you to secure a booking at an agreeable price, while affording time to save up ahead of your stay.
Hotels.com is an accommodation website a whole lot similar to Booking.com. Perhaps its biggest advantage is that for every 10 nights you book and stay for through Hotels.com, you’ll receive one free night to spend on a future trip, in addition to other perks such as rewards member-only sales, secret prices and priority customer support.
Sometimes Hotels.com has rooms that are cheaper on their website and vice versa, so they are both worth checking when it comes to looking for somewhere to stay.
Although still a foreign concept to a lot of people, Couchsurfing is an ever-growing and budding community of like-minded people.
It’s a great way to find somewhere to stay when away, and is especially attractive to budget travellers because it’s usually free (although some people do ask for minimal contributions to bills and what not).
In return you are expected to spend time with your host, but don’t underestimate this, as they are usually locals with local knowledge. Couchsurfing is a two-way street, but is certainly a beneficial way of sorting out accommodation and verifying your account will help you maximise your chances of finding a host.
To read about my first Couchsurfing experience, click here.
Airbnb is an online marketplace which lets people rent out their properties or spare rooms to guests. It can sometimes be a cheaper alternative to hotels, and gives the opportunity to stay in places that you perhaps otherwise wouldn’t.
If you’re looking to book accommodation then don’t hesitate to have a look on Airbnb before making the final call.
XE don’t call themselves‘The World’s Trusted Currency Authority’ for nothing, as they bring up-to-date currency exchange rates from across the globe.
Although they won’t tend to be indicative of the rates you’ll receive at a currency exchange booth, it is great to use as a yardstick to make sure you get the best rate possible for your money.
Travelex are one of the biggest foreign currency exchange specialist in the world, and have booths at virtually every airport in the UK.
Because of this, they have a service whereby you can order your foreign currency, commission-free, online and pick it up at the airport, saving you an extra trip into town to pick it up.
They don’t usually have the best rates, but their hassle-free service makes them one of my most-used.
Eurochange have great rates if you buy from them online. Although they don’t operate at any airport, they do have over 100 stores in the UK and have a home delivery service if you don’t feel like moving from the comfort of your sofa.
Other travel resources
I swear by Rome2Rio as the best travel transport resource on the web. In effect, the website allows you to search how to get between any two places in the world, then offers up various ways to get there, the cost and how long it will take.
It’s great to help navigate areas you’re less familiar with, and a number of times has helped me improve my travel plans by highlighting alternative ways of getting around.
It’s even just fun to play around on, and I cannot recommend it enough.
The Foreign & Commonwealth Office is worth looking at before visiting any foreign country. Here you will find the most recent travel advice and news prior to your trip.
It’s also a great resource for finding out about visas, health, local laws and customs and money in the destination country to help ensure a safe, secure and enjoyable trip.
For me, Google maps is the best maps provider on the web. Whether it’s directions you want, street view or a downloadable local map for your smart device, Google Maps is certainly the way to go.
One of the things I always make sure to do before going away is download an offline map to my phone on the Google Maps app, which allows me to know where I am and where I'm going, even if I can't get an internet connection.