How truly brilliant is it that we now live in an age where you can plan and book an entire trip abroad whilst lying in bed! Although travel agents can find you some great package bargains, traveling to non-popular holiday destinations can require a bit of homework.
I’ve been doing this myself a lot recently so thought I’d make a handy resource list, along with some thoughts about the websites I’ve been using.
FLIGHTS AND TRAVEL
https://uk.voyages-sncf.com – A life saver for booking trains from the UK for European rail networks! Americans should use this link www.raileurope.com/, it’s the same company but has two different websites and names for UK/US. You can check train times, and under 26’s can sort themselves into the ‘Youth’ for cheaper rail fare.
https://www.kayak.co.uk/ – An international airline search engine which works in most countries and currencies which finds you the cheapest flights for your destination.
The most unique aspect of Kayak is their Explore page; if you’re not sure of your destination but you have a budget, you can search from your designated airport and month of departure for how far your money will get you for return fairs.
Kayak also allows you to create your own flight itinerary, if you’re planning on visiting more than one destination. For example, I may take a flight from Heathrow to Tokyo, later on Tokyo to Sydney, and then return to Heathrow from Sydney at the end of my travels.
http://www.skyscanner.net/ – Find the cheapest flights for your month of travel with Skyscanners flexible search engine. Skyscanner searches over 1200 airlines and travel websites for a comprehensive list of travel times and prices from your airport. If you have the luxury of flexible travel dates you can chose the option of ‘whole month’, which brings up a simple chart so you can pick the cheapest days of the week to travel and return on.
I used Skyscanner to find £600 return flights to Japan with Emirates, no middle man included, and food, baggage, and seat allocation was included in the price.
However, I then used it to book flights to Amsterdam, in which there was a middle man between me and the airline KLM. This was Tripsta.co.uk, which did not tell you about the £50pp backage fee and seat allocation fee until the very end, and with poor customer service according to Trip Adviser users. In total I only saved £14 compared to if I had booked directly through KLM, so for some flights please check to see if there is an agent between you and the airline, and weigh up whether it’s worth the added stress.
WHERE TO STAY
http://www.agoda.com – Not quite as user friendly as the others in this list, but a great website for searching private listings and hotels. Comprehensive review system, break down of room prices with photos, and has an impressive amount of accommodation in Asia especially. Some hotel reviews clocked over 1000+ users, which gives this website enormous credibility for booking trusted hotels.
https://www.airbnb.co.uk/ – A cheap way to sleep your way around the world. Rent a room in someone’s house, or find an vacated holiday home that someone isn’t using. It has a traveler review section of each propety to give you peace of mind in regards to safety. If you enter a city to search, a large interactive map opens on the right so you can search by price and location easily.
http://www.booking.com/ – A popular and well trusted website for booking hotels with up to date prices. I mainly use this to book hotels, and if you subscribe to their emails you can gain member perks such as 10% discount on your first booking.
http://www.hostelbookers.com/ – An incredibly easy website to navigate with a wealth of hostels across the world, splits the costs into dorm rooms and private rooms, with the number of people to room, so you know exactly what you are getting. Takes a whole range of currencies too!
I’ll be updating this list regularly as I go along, so check back later on for added sections and websites to save you trawling the web to find the right websites for you!