Have you ever jumped out of a plane without a parachute?
Of course not – that would be poor planning. When traveling, it behooves even the savviest globetrotter to have a plan – or pack a proverbial parachute. It’s fine to want to “wing it” or let the breeze take you where it may, but at the end of the day, no matter how adventurous you are, it’s a good idea to have somewhat of a compass to guide your trip. Too much structure and planning can suffocate the creativity of your journey, but not enough can lead to endless frustration, wasted time and money, and in some cases, can even be dangerous. Finding the right balance between flying by the seat of your pants and heavy research is a recipe for a great time. Here are six essential resources to provide just the right amount of structure for the next time you get the travel itch.
Booking Cheap Flights
Do you like paying top dollar for the flights you take? Me neither. That’s where choosing the right website or app comes in. Booking directly with the airline will almost certainly cost you more than if you go through a third party. These third-party sites will scour the entire internet to find you the best possible rate on your flight in a matter of seconds. Most of the interfaces are super simple to use. You just plug in your date and destination and watch the options roll in. Three of the best resources out there for booking flights are Skyscanner, Momondo, and Google Flights.
Finding the best accommodations
If you’re heading on a camping trip and have a roof top tent, you’re all set, and this won’t apply to you. But for the rest of us, much like finding the best rate on your flight, you most likely want to repeat the process of finding your accommodation. You’re in luck. There are countless apps available to comb the web and find the best deals on a room no matter what country you’re headed to. If you’re going the hotel or hostel route, you can’t go wrong with sites like booking.com, hotels.com, and trivago.com. Each of these will provide similar results to make sure you get the most bang for your buck. Your other option, which has become increasingly popular, especially for long-term stays, is to book through Airbnb or VRBO. These sites will allow you to connect with the host, read past reviews, and view dozens of photos on the space.
Traveling without insurance is about as bad of an idea as skydiving without a parachute. Even if you’re young, healthy, and athletic, accidents can happen to anyone. You could fall off your car mount for bike in Vietnam, get bit by a venomous spider in Australia, or have to have emergency gallbladder surgery in Singapore. Anything can happen when you’re on the road, so you want to be prepared. Forking over a few dollars a day for travel insurance is a lot better than being stuck with a multi-thousand-dollar hospital bill. Two amazing companies that you can’t go wrong with are Safetywing and World Nomads.
With so much amazing gear and gadgets on the market these days, it’s easy to prepare yourself for the adventure of a lifetime with a few toys that will make your trip safer, more comfortable, and more fun. No matter what your destination is, you’re bound to find an accessory or two that will suit your journey perfectly. Check out this blog for some inspiration.
Travel groups and forums
It’s great to get insight from people that currently live, or have been to, your future destination. You’ll find amazing up-to-date tips from locals and tourists alike to keep you in the loop. These people have their fingers on the pulse, and you will truly be getting your info from the horse’s mouth. It’s a great idea to join a Facebook group for the city you’ll be visiting. You can also find forums through Lonely Planet, and Fodor’s.
One of the best things about travel is experiencing the local food. You can get great culinary tips through local Facebook groups and Instagram posts, but your best bet is to check out a site like Trip Advisor. You will find thousands of comprehensive reviews on the local restaurants in your city of choice. Whether you’re after a hidden gem or a Michelin-calibre meal, you’ll be able to find it there. It’s also a great idea to read travel bloggers’ recommendations which can be done with a simple Google search.
The daring and bold can be tempting to throw planning out the window and go with the flow. That sounds like a fun idea until you’re stuck in a seedy new town without a place to stay, or you get food poisoning from a restaurant you could have avoided with a little research. It’s always nice to have somewhat of a plan, even if that’s just an outline to give yourself a little structure. Be free and be adventurous, but also be responsible by arming yourself with a bit of research and knowledge along the way.