When you finally decide that you want to go on your next adventure, you need to sit down and do the research on all your options. For starters it is of high importance that you decide how do you want to do it. Will you book one by one thing over the internet, or just some partially online and the rest over agency, or you want whatever agency is offering, no matter what you decide, in the text below you can find most useful web sites and applications which can help you with all your planning, so before but even during the trip, no matter how you are organizing it. I divided them to 4 sections: planning, transport, accommodation and other, where the last one can especially be useful when you are already on the destination, but even when you are not traveling at all. And at the end there are some even more useful tips. Since I am giving you a lot of different options, make sure to read the whole text, because something that you need might be at the bottom.
These sites are specialized for trip planning , where you can make your route and get information about destinations, so here are some sites which can help with itineraries:
LonelyPlanet – very popular, well-known web site which gives you all necessary location info, destination guides, as well as possibility for planning your trip, booking transport, accommodations, excursions, etc…
Tripadvisor – is good for planning and booking, but it as well has a lot of useful information, comments and photos from other travelers, and I mostly use it to see how is the quality of accommodation which I like or that was offered to me by a travel agency.
TravelMath – a web site that is up to my liking for travel planning, since it gives you length of the trip by car and plane, so distance from your current location to travel destination, as well as available mean of transport for desired dates, or cities nearby and the possibility of renting a car etc.
More similar sites for travel and itineraries planning:
TripIt, Itineree, TripHobo, Roadtrippers, Planapple, Utrip, Inspirock, iTraveller – check them all and decide which one you like best, because there are some small differences, but what will you choose is mostly up to your taste. A lot of sites have some good deals and offers, and discount codes which you can use right before the payment, just make sure it was calculated into the price.
On the other hand, some sites are being used only for searching and booking different means of transport:
GoogleFlights – great for searching available flights on desired dates, as it offers all possible airline companies that are flying on each date
More similar sites that offer plane tickets:
CheapAir, SecretFlying, Adioso, LowFares, Kiwi, and the rest you will see further down in the text, because they are not offering only plane tickets, but as well accommodations, package deals, rental cars and cruises, so you will have more choices. There is also a site that finds you best seats on the flight, so make sure to check SeatGuru.
BlaBlaCar – is being used for a trusted carpooling, and even better, you can offer or ask for a ride. So driver sets a departure date, time, place and price on the site, and makes a deal with certain travelers who he picks up on agreed location, and they share a ride basically. All is very transparent, so you can see information about drivers and travelers.
GoEuro – gives a possibility to search and book transport through Europe, so buses, trains and airplanes are in the offer. I used this one when I went from Milan to Como and Lugano. There are two similar sites but one is specialized only for trains EuroRail, and other one only for buses EuroLines, and both are, as the name says, for Europe transport only.
Uber – is offering a service of a ride within a city, similar to a taxi. App shows you nearest free rides and prices, you chose one and contact the driver, then if all is set you can proceed to payment. Foe example I used this one for a transport from the city center to airport in Timişoara. However, this site offer services only in some countries and cities, so it is best that you look at the list first. Similar to this one, there is another site called CarGo so check both to pick more accurate or closer location to yours. For example Serbia has only CarGo.
There are as well, sites specialized only for searching for and booking accommodations:
Trivago – is site a global browser of hotels which includes all the sites that offer accommodation in hotels, so by visiting this site you should have a large variety of different options, including package deals such as food and drinks offers along with hotel rooms.
Airbnb – specialized for accommodation rentals but only private rooms, apartments and houses. I used it for booking apartments in Budapest and Milan, both for 5 nights, and no doubt I will keeping using this service. As well as some other former mentioned sites it is very transparent, and you can see personal information about the people who you are renting the house from, but also from travelers to, so be aware, you can comment on houses and hosts but they can comment and evaluate you too, so a be a good guest. You can see what accommodation is available, for how many nights, what is the price, what is going into the price like service or cleaning fees, amenities, how many rooms, what can you use, location, everything.
Hostelworld – site on which you can search and book rooms or even just beds in hostels. There are rooms with a lot of bunk beds, but there are also single or double bedrooms, depending on the type of hostel. As on the other sites, there are pictures and comments, so you will choose something that suits you most, if availability and budget can allow it. used this one also for a stay in Spain, and found some great cheap accommodation.
Booking – here you can book rooms in hotels, hostels, villas, etc. It, as well as the others , has comments, pictures, but it also has sometimes some very good deals, and even some booking without payments, so sometimes you can pay when you get to your accommodation. Some places also have an offer for a package deal with food and drinks. Some have free cancellation, Take a look.
Similar to these are Hotels – the one where you can search and book a room in hotels, or even find good package deals and HostelBookers – on which you can look for and reserve free rooms in both hotels and hostels.
Couchsurfing – gives you a chance for a free stay in someone’s home, but only if you can return a favor. So basically if you want to have a free night stay, you will have to give a free night stay in your home. Though this usually does not last for too long, maybe 2,3 nights tops, so this is good for a weekend or short stays. Similar site to this one is HomeStay which is being used in more than 160 countries, so check both and combine, maybe that way you could find a host faster. Basically this is a community of travel fans who connect and I love the idea.
Now something a little bit different, but interesting, is HomeExchange where you literally find a place you would like to stay in, and exchange homes with the other host. Like in a movie The Holiday. So the stay is of course free and as for the all others you need to be a member of the community, signed up, verified. Which is all great for extra safety for you, but be aware that you are staying in a house where someone will return to live after you are back at your home from vacation, which was also occupied while you were away. I suppose you want your house nice and safe when you get back, so do the same while you stay in someone else’s.
CampGlam – perfect when you are in need of a campsite, camp-hire, place for your vehicle or a tent, or rent huts, tents, tree-houses, caravans, etc.
There are also some web sites where you can, at the same time, inform about destinations, plan a trip, book transport, accommodation, rent-a-car, package deals, cruises, and here is some:
4. MORE USEFUL INFO
In this section I put sites that are multi useful before the trip of even during the trip, on the location, and some even when you are in your hometown:
GoogleMaps – My favorite for orientation getting round some city, as it offers you most popular destinations, and GPS from location A to B, by local transport or on foot. You can use it anytime, anyplace, even without internet access, but then you should download the offline map of the city you are in, and maybe you will not have all the nears bars, pubs, caffees, etc, but it will certainly lead you from a point A to a point B. Similar to this one is HereWeGo which also offers GPS services.
Fouresquare – is a site and an app which gives you popular places nearby mostly, but even further. I use it mostly to find some good places to eat on vacation, because you also have pictures, comments and evaluations from people who have already visited.
Yelp – offers you nearest restaurants, nightlife, and basically helps you decide where to go and what to eat, where to go shopping, and much more.
OpenTable – finds you free seats in restaurants worldwide, and it is available in a lot of cities, so even if you are not traveling, I believe it can be useful in your hometown. Similar site to this one but available only in America is Eater.
CruiseCompete – gives you package deals for cruises while searching few agencies and sites that are specialized for these kind of travels. Some site that I mentioned above offer cruises alongside with transport and accommodations.
UrbanRail – site which has metro maps of a large number of cities worldwide.
RentalCars – offers renting a car, and it is a partner with large brands like Hertz, Avis, Eurocar, etc. So this may give you a large number of options for nearest and best rent-a-car services. Same as for the cruises, many sites mentioned above offer this services, along with finding a transport or accommodation.
ParkMe – is a site where search and reserve a parking spot, but since I have never tried here are few other options: Parkopedia, JustPark, and specialized for USA there are ParkWhiz, BestParking, ParkingPanda…
WeLove2Ski – perfect for skiing fans, where they can inform about places to ski, accommodation, gears and much more.
RebTel – gives you an option to make international calls over the local network for a certain price, without making charges for roaming. Who cannot take some kind of roaming package deal within the local network, check this site for more information.
Peek – is where you can check what events are going to be in the city at the same time you are visiting, what is worth seeing and also you can book a tour of the city, gallery, museum, excursion, etc. Similar to this one is ContextTravel, while a very good app is SpottedByLocals, where you can find guides and advice given by locals, and currently works for 71 city.
SleepingAirports – It happened to me twice that I needed to stay over night at the airport, and in both cases I needed to travel from one city to another to catch a flight, and all connections were either much earlier than the flight or much later. So in Barcelona and Madrid, I literally slept at the airport. This is the first case that could happen to you. The other things that could also happen are cancelled flight, for whatever reason, and missed flight, but only if the fault was not yours and for purpose. So I believe in these cases, guide for sleeping at the airport is good because overnight shops and cafes may not work, you are hungry, or something might work, but how else would you know if someone doesn’t share the info.
AirHelp – allows you to take compensation for the flight that was cancelled, missed or overbooked. So if you do not want to change it to another flight, but to get money in return, you can just consult and decide what to do.
FlyAware gives you a possibility of tracking a plane, so if you do not want to worry and wait until someone finds internet connection to tell you that they landed, you can just click here and put in a flight number so you can track the status of it.
When the weather is the question, or should I say climate and weather conditions, you can consult site Weather2Travel, and for accurate weather prognosis you can check AccuWeather ili Wether2Umbrella.
Furthermore, there are sites and agencies for sitters, who are specialized in sitting houses or pets, or both. So if you do not have anyone to check on your house or take care of your pets make sure to check TrustedHouseSitters or Nomador. In case you cannot find your city on these, there is one specialized only for pets called PetSit.
Many cities have the option of a so-called PASS, a card that gives you possibility of discounts in a lot of stores, transport, you may even have VIP entrance when you do not wait in the line, etc. I love these, so if I stay longer like 5 or more days, if it is a really good deal, I am always buying it. In America such card is CityPass, and many cities in Europe have their own like BarcelonaCard, BerlinPass ili IamAmsterdamCard. There is a possibility that there are more cities included in one card, and for that check WeLoveCityCards. If there is no such possibility ask for age discount, student discount, or family discounts, group discounts, honeymoon discounts, ask around, do a research.
Moreover, for most things that you are looking for, browsing, paying and booking over internet, you need to have an online payment card or account, like credit, debit cards or PayPal. Also, make sure the site and payments are safe, and that you get some kind of confirmations for a reservation and a payment, in written of course. Also, on every site you mostly have pictures, comments, reviews, information about hosts and drivers, so make sure to check them out. You can also contact them. If you see only one bad comment, and the rest are fine, you can consider it, or if comments are old. But when you see a lot of bad comments don’t take it into consideration. The best is to combine looking into comments and pictures before you decide. Most sites have option for you to comment on homes, vehicles, services, but also on guests and travelers, so you all make sure to be good, friendly and clean hosts and guests, who follow the rules, if you want to travel like that.
I am giving you only my advice on this all, if you want more accurate information make sure to check all the links for sites I mentioned and there you can read more about it.
Also as I said already, for best and also cheapest results combine few sites and apps.
There are agents specialized for trip planning and you can find them on the internet too. They mean to find the best offer, and I can say I saw some very good ones.
SERBIA AND THE BALKAN REGION
There are few good domestic sites who are offering services around Serbia and the Balkans:
Where to go in Serbia – AjmoNegde.
Polazak – trip planner which gives you prices and availability of bus and train tickets in region and internationally.
BusTicket4me – browser of bus tickets in Balkan
RedVoznje – site where you can find tickets for city, intercity and international buses transport
BalkanViator – site for browsing buses, taxis, sharing ride or renting cars, and works for whole Balkan.
If you need airplane tickets go to:
Domestic sites where you can check package deals, accommodation, transport, etc.
Domestic maps and GPS site is PlanPlus.
For pet sitters check PetGuards where they have a network of sitters is Belgrade and Novi Sad.