Booking your own holidays can be confusing. There are millions of different websites, airlines and hotels out there, and knowing where to start can be very overwhelming, especially if it’s the first time you’re doing it! I always book all of my travel details myself. Everything from flights and accommodation to airport transfers and tours. If you’re willing to put the time and research in, it can often save you a lot of money! Here are my go-to websites when planning my next adventure.
By far my favourite website to book accommodation. No matter whether you’re looking for a luxury hotel or a beach side hostel, Hotels Combined has everything at the best possible price. Hotels Combined searches the internet, and finds every single possible price, on every hotel booking website around, to offer you the best possible prices. People often recommend I try different sites such as booking.com or agoda.com, but the beauty about Hotels Combined is that it looks at all of those websites, and offers you a comparable list of prices, by room type.
If you’re looking for some different accommodation options, or if you’re travelling for an extended period of time, Airbnb offers great alternative options. Offering everything from luxury apartments and complete houses to a room or a bed, Airbnb offers something for everyone. With accommodation options in every city, and heavy security checks on every listing, you can always find a good deal and some very interesting options. Wouldn’t it be awesome to pretend you owned a New York apartment during your travels? Airbnb offers this option!
Viator is the perfect place to start when looking at what activities and tours you might be interested in whilst travelling. It breaks down by city, as well as types of activities and gives you an excellent idea about what there is to do in any given city. Whilst it is the perfect place to start looking for tour ideas, I would recommend shopping around and checking out the prices on other websites as well before booking, as they can often be a bit more expensive than other travel sites. However, they definitely offer you a look at most, if not all, of the tours available in the town you’re visiting.
Literally scans the sky. Sky scanner finds you the cheapest possible flight no matter what. My favourite thing about sky scanner is that it includes absolutely every website! Often Australian flights websites will not offer domestic airlines from other countries, which can make it very difficult if you’re trying to book your own internal flights. And that’s what Sky Scanner is perfect for. Sky Scanner was our absolute saviour when we were booking our Africa trip, as it showed us the cheapest flights for every airline that flew around Africa. Australian travel agents didn’t show us this option, instead sticking to highly expensive airlines.
I have mentioned it before and I’m sure I will mention it again: I love Lonely Planet! I buy the guide to every country I am going to before I go, and excitedly read it before I leave. Not only does Lonely Planet have up to date information, and include exciting places to visit, but it also offers survival guides, travel tips, and even information such as what currency or language the country uses. My favourite thing about Lonely Planet is that when you buy a guidebook online, there is an option to get it in a book + ebook bundle for the same price! This is so great for me because I absolutely love having the books to read and display at home, but they are often too heavy to travel with – so I take the ebook guide on my iPad while I’m away!
The Smart Traveller app is particularly helpful when travelling to ‘risky’ countries. Smart Traveller offers current information about what’s going on in any particular country. This includes information about terrorism and war, politics, natural disasters and medical epidemics. It also offers information about what you need to do as an Australian visiting these countries, and also a registration option, so that in case of an emergency, the Australian government knows where you are. We found the smart traveller app particularly helpful with the recent Ebola outbreak in West Africa. It gave us regular updates on the Ebola situation, as well as the prevention measures of non-affected African countries and it’s location, and because of this we were able to make safe decisions when deciding which countries to visit.