Although we all love being spontaneous while traveling, a little planning goes a long way in to making a trip safe and successful. Some basic research skills will aid in finding the best flying routes, deals on accommodation, digging up local eateries, looking for activities, reading safety tips and getting truthful advice on travel forums.
I always hunt down experiential accommodation, local cuisine, and offbeat activities all of which can be discovered after putting in hours of research. The travel industry is booming with start ups and there are a plethora of services offering you unique experiences, all of them you can read about from any corner of the world, thanks to Google.
I want to help you travel better so here is an exhaustive list of resources that I have personally used and highly recommend. These travel companies and websites are super useful for planning your travels. If you have any questions, ask away in the comments! 🙂
Prides it self to be one of the oldest and the most reliable hotel booking website out there in an online space where discounted travel websites are mushrooming by the minute. Expedia deserves to be your first choice when it comes to booking hotels and discovering special offers by star hotels. The website is easy to navigate with a number of services on offer form cheap flights to last minute deals.
Another giant in the hotel booking scenario. This particular website lets you book hotel rooms with free cancellation, yes you heard that right. Booking.com is the most favored website when it comes to booking rooms in advance so that you have your options open and can amend travel plans even at the last minute.
Another gem in the ‘best rate guaranteed’ club. If you are looking for budget vacation packages across Europe, now you know where you should be looking. The only drawback being here, is that when you look for hotels in Paris, for example, you get a listing of hotels with huge discounted rates but HotWire will not reveal the name of the hotel to you until you book. The reason they state for this, is that hotels want to keep a good image by not advertising cheap rates.
How does one even get started about Airbnb, this website is like digging for gold. Airbnb is a website that has thousands of listings of unique homes around the world that owners rent out to travelers. This is ideal type of accommodation if you stick to the ideology; live local, eat local, think global! If you have not checked out it yet, do it now.
Although many of us not very fond of hostels, it’s the best option if you are traveling on a shoestring budget or if you like to meet new people when traveling solo. HostelWorld.com is the best platform to find and book hostels around the world with one click. Easy to navigate and very reliable.
This online travel start up brings you some very offbeat places to stay around India, from colonial mansions to quaint cottages by the beach. Looking for weekend escapes from Mumbai? Zara Hutke will help you find the best.
If you have a liking for luxurious villas like me, check out this start up from Mumbai that lists gorgeous villas in breathtaking locations across Maharashtra and Goa.
Skyscanner is the biggest secret of frequent travelers. The website is a sure shot way to find a flight ticket way cheaper than you would find on other popular travel websites. Skyscanner is super user friendly,very easy and quick to use. There are no confusing filters or advanced search options, just enter your destinations and date and you are good to go!
It is not big secret that airlines lower their rates everyday without advertising them. So where do you look for these updated fares? Yes, you guessed it right. Airfare Watchdog is a website that lists low fares that are verified by humans. The websites also has a number of live coupons and deals featured on the website that can fetch you additional discounts on your flight tickets.
Momondo is the simplest way to find cheap flight tickets. With additional features like the price calendar, airline suggestions, being able to filter by alliance, flight insight and prioritizing time or cost, Momondo is on the runway to become one of the most brilliant tools to book cheap flights. Want to know what’s the cheapest time to book prior to departure? What week of the year are flights the cheapest on this route? Which carrier is the cheapest? Momondo is here to point you in the right direction.
If you are a frequent flyer, this website should be your best bet to save money using frequent flyer miles, credit cards and hotel points. The website has features hot deals and has a section aimed towards beginners who want to learn how to use flyer miles to the maximum. Follow the founder, Brian Kelly on Twitter and Instagram where he shares is signature tips and tricks.
This website is the ultimate source of airplane seating, in-flight amenities, seat maps and other flight information. You can pick the best seat on the plane using SeatGuru and also look up seat advice, comments and photos from real people. SeatGuru also has it’s own forum on TripAdvisor where travel experts are happy to answer your questions.
Redbus most reliable bus booking platform in India. The website lists air-conditioned Volvo buses that ply between all major cities and popular destinations around the country. You can book tickets online, get them delivered to your doorstep and pay cash on delivery too! The RedBus app comes in very handy to book last minute tickets. They introduced e-tickets lately which discards the hassle of printing tickets.
Ola cabs is India’s smartest cab service. From autos to prime cabs, you can book a ride according to your budget or style. The app is very dependable, you can track rides, pay using the e-wallet, and book a cab with one touch. Plus, you get a discount for your first ride with ola!
Hiring a self-drive car in India is no longer a tedious and complicated process, thanks to ZoomCar. This self-srive car rental company is new in the bandwagon but is already making a lot of buzz for it’s great service. Currently available in Pune, Bangalore, Delhi, Mumbai, Chennai and Hyderabad, the company has a huge potential to spread its fleet across the country and make traveling in India a better experience.
Trains have always been the highlight of traveling in India, and the Indian Railway Catering and Tourism Corporation makes its possible for your next trip. The online portal for booking trains has improved its interface making it much easier and quicker to book train tickets online. Make sure to book early, fifteen days ahead of your date of travel is highly recommended as seats fill up fast and Tatkal (Railway scheme to book tickets last minute for a journey) tickets are very tricky.
Food is an indivisible part of travel, and the joy devouring local authentic cuisine when in a new country is beyond words. If you are keen to experience a place through it’s culture, then food is you best bet. And with this idea, EatWith was born. EatWith is a global community of foodies that let’s you dine with locals in their homes and taste authentic food. Indulge in unique, all-inclusive menus crafted by passionate chefs in interesting locations around the globe.
Traveling is a brilliant idea for travelers who love to soak up the culture and experience the life of locals – the home, the food and the family. It is a priceless experience to sit in the opposite corner of the world and share a delicious home-made meal over the stories behind the dishes. Also, learn to cook and get to explore the market with your hosts. You will thank us later!
For all those vegetarians out there who know how tough it is to be a globetrotter when most countries do not understand why someone would not eat meat, Happy cow comes to your rescue so that you don’t have to survive only on cheese and salads. This online vegetarian and vegan community lists out restaurants and cafes in every part of the world that are vegetarian and vegan friendly. Look up reviews, photos and menus for restaurants in any city you plan to visit. They have recently introduced B&B/retreats section where you can find vegetarian friendly accommodation too. Thank god for HappyCow.
The Indian restaurant scene has changed drastically ever since Zomato was stepped in. This global restaurant search entity is not just a listing of restaurants but it has gone beyond that. Zomato has become a thriving community of foodies around the country who review restaurants with foodgasmic images of dishes served at the best of the best eateries. The new design of the website with social features is what adds to the experience.
Wondering what to eat on your next train journey? Then TravelKhana is here for you. This online ordering entity works primarily in providing fresh, healthy and delicious meals in Indian trains. They have tie ups with restaurants located near train stations that deliver quality, well-packed and wholesome food right at your seat. You have to select your train, the destination where you would like to have your meal, the meal itself, pay COD or online, track your order and relax while the restaurant will serve you a hot meal at your seat.
Looking for some exquisite cuisine delivered at your doorstep in India? HolaChef prides itself to be the first online delivery business in India where you can order meals from the best chefs in India. From everyday lunch, dinner and snacks, HolaChef also has a menu for drinks and deserts.
With online ordering websites sprouting by the minute, Food panda has created a space of it’s own. The website also has a very handy app through which you can order hot meals from the best restaurants around your neighborhood. The best thing about food panda is that they always deliver on time!
Communities, Forums and Guides
How does one even get started about trip planning without the mention of TripAdvsior? Along with being the world’s most favored travel search engine for accommodation, restaurants and things to do, TripAdvisor also has a flourishing community of expert travelers on the TA forum. Ask any questions or queries for your next escape and you will get the best suggestions from travelers who have been there. The TA forum is a great place to look for itineraries, recommendations and browse through answers of millions of travelers.
IndiaMike is probably the only virtual forum solely created with the purpose of traveling in India. IndiaMike prides itself for having a huge number of senior expert travelers who have traveled the length and breadth of this magnificent country and are happy to answer questions and give recommendations on hotels, places to eat, things to do and even assist you in chalking out a itinerary.
If you are looking for the best insider travel tips, you are at the right place. This community of travelers has online travel guides, information about precautions and safety measures and travel tips from its community of 1.3 million members. Get instant travel answers, learn about travel insurance and find practical information on 63,000 destinations.
The good old Wikipedia has its own Wiki Travel pages that source all the basic information you need to know before you set off to explore a new place. They are on a mission to create free, up-to-date and reliable mini-world travel guides that are written and edited by wikitravelers. This open source service features information on hotels, restaurants, attractions, culture, transportation, travel tips and much more.
Look up the best things to do in worldwide with this city guide that highlights everything from entertainment to art, food to drink, nightlife to shopping, sightseeing to adventure and more. The city guides are developed with the help of locals who know the essentials of what to do when in a city. The app is very useful and practical for quick recommendations and tips to explore a new city.
Here are some of my favorite travel blogs about traveling aroundthe world! Read and get inspired to travel.
Some of the websites and companies mentioned in this post are affiliate links, which mean I earn a small commission every time you make a purchase at no extra cost to you. I only recommend services that I have used and believe will provide value to our audience.