Through my experiences both living abroad and traveling around the world, I can’t emphasize enough the importance of being resourceful in planning for your trips! This applies to you, regardless of whether you’re just a tourist or moving overseas for studies, work or on a permanent basis.
So, I have compiled a list of amazing resources right here just for you and will try to update them as much as possible 🙂
If you’re fine with not having the option to look for multi-city flights, Cheapflights could be a great platform to start with as well.
Not only does it have a user-friendly and asthetically appealing interface but it also highlights the best deals, whether you’re looking for accommodation and cruise tour packages, car rentals or flights.
Although I usually start with Skyscanner and Momondo for finding affordable flights, CheapOair does offer some pretty good deals too. My flight bookings from Toronto to Medellín (Colombia) in late April, and from Lima (Peru) to Toronto in mid-May, which were made through CheapOair, cost only 493 Canadian dollars (approximately US $372).
It also offers promotional codes and discounts that help you to lock in some of the best flight and hotel deals!
As long as you don’t cancel your bookings (which could incur steep fees), you’re fine.
Although Expedia is just like other established travel booking sites, what sets it apart is its attractive rewards scheme.
From time to time, it offers special rewards for members, such as the opportunity to earn 6 points for every dollar spent on standalone hotel bookings, and 5 points for standalone flight bookings. There are also no blackout dates for redeeming your points for a trip. To access the rewards, bookings have to be made on the Expedia application on your mobile phone.
Depending on your membership status, you may be eligible for discounts especially on select hotels.
As Google Flights put it, you can book your flights with confidence. Finding the flight that best suits your needs and budget has never been easier.
Let’s say you have a budget to stick to for flights but are flexible with the dates and destination in a particular region. You would be able to browse flight options by month and region. Then, a list of all prices and places that are available will be shown, helping you to decide which flight itinerary is the best fit.
If you’re also open to having long layovers where you could explore the city for the day, Google Flights let you browse through a flight connection (and length of duration) of your choice. What better way to enjoy a new destination without having to spend too much money!
This is easily one of my favourite websites for finding affordable airfares. It allows you to search for flights by month. If you’re flexible with your flight dates and have a budget, you might be able to get the best flight deal in the month.
You would also be able to find some of the lowest airfares and ratings for each third party airfare booking sites that Skyscanner would direct you to. This way, you can make a well-informed decision on which flight to book and which website to use.
Momondo is, no doubt, one of the best airfare booking sites for finding the cheapest flights. Their ability to include some lesser-known, budget airlines in the search list is impressive. Like Skyscanner, it has a price calender that lets you see which dates to book your flight to save money.
Are most hostel or affordable hotel rooms booked for your travel dates? Want some privacy or perhaps, a more intimate travel experience with the locals?
Look no further than AirBnB. It is perfect especially for short-term vacation renters.
But it offers some benefits to long-term travelers as well. For instance, depending on your potential host, those who book a stay for at least a month may be able to enjoy monthly discounts, which could turn out to be cheaper than staying for only 3 weeks!
First-time bookings made as a business traveler would entitle you to a US $50 promotional coupon, which will automatically be applied towards your next booking.
Agoda is hands down the best website I have come across for booking accommodation especially those in Asia. For example, I found the same hostel in Tokyo to be almost 50 percent cheaper on Agoda than on booking.com for August. Also, even though taxes are reflected only after you proceed to the booking page, some of the accommodation options are still cheaper than those on other booking sites.
Moreover, free cancellation is also available for some accommodation though you pay a little more for such service.
Priceline is a good option for finding reasonably priced accommodation aside from flights, car rentals, and cruise trips. It has two ways for bidding for the best deal: Express Deals and Name Your Own Price (NYOP).
For the Express Deals option, you simply choose your travel dates and destination, and will be shown all the listings (along with its star level, area, and price).
On the other hand, under the NYOP method, you select the star level, area, and price that you’re willing to pay per room for each night. Once a room has been matched based on your criteria, Priceline will confirm your reservation for check-in.
Note: Each room can accommodate up to 2 adults, so this method makes more sense if there are two of you traveling together.
So if you’re mostly concerned about the reputation, location, and prices of the property, be sure to check out Priceline.
This is the website I usually start with for booking accommodation.
It has a wide range of accommodation options that cater to your needs, by price, location, property type, amenities and facilities, and several other factors.
The availability of rooms and responses of other travelers are also reflected in every listing on the results list. For instance, if 20 other travelers are also interested in the same hostel in Tokyo that you are checking out, you will see that notification. The same thing applies if that hostel is almost fully booked. Notifications like these give you the greater sense of urgency that you need to book the accommodation before it is no longer available.
Another feature I like about booking.com is that there’s the option of free cancellations for many listings (with no additional cost) before a given date. Should your plans change or you find a better deal, you can always cancel your booking without any concern and penalty.
Being a member of the Couchsurfing (CS) community has been one of the best decisions I have made in my life. I met one of my best buddies (from Poland) from a weekly CS meet up event.
CS is an excellent example of online hospitality exchange sites that allows travelers and local hosts to share their cultural experience with one another through the promise of free accommodation to the former. As cliche as its grand vision of cultural exchange and authentic experiences may sound to some people, I’d say it really gives most travelers a great start on getting to know the local culture a little better. Some of them, like me, have even established life-long friendships beyond the mere host-guest relationship.
This is how it works. By registering for an account (which is free), you get access to events in your area, forum discussions, and also the opportunity to communicate with and send requests to stay with potential hosts. There’s no cost involved in the use of this site at all.
Although Couchsurfing is probably by far the most well-known hospitality exchange site for travelers, Hospitality Club (HC) is a great platform to start with too.
It shares pretty similar features as CS, such as discussion forums, and free membership sign-ups and access to potential hosts or guests.
One thing that sets it apart though is the website can be translated into at least 10 different languages including Arabic, French, Mandarin, and Spanish.
Job & Volunteer Opportunities
Ever thought what it’s like to experience life in an organic farm?
This is made possible thanks to WWOOF, which provides cultural and hospitality exchange between organic farmers and volunteers, who will get to stay at their hosts’ accommodation for free.
Note: Although WWOOF operates internationally, you need to register in each country that you visit, and pay for the subscription fee for that particular destination. This is because conditions for organic farm work in each country differ from one another.
Looking to relocate abroad but not sure where to start with? Already moved to another country but still on a job hunt?
This is what EasyExpat is for! Not only does it provide valuable general information on moving overseas but there is a Classifieds section where you can put up a post to advertise your skills and what you have to offer to potential employers abroad.
You would also be able to access international job opportunities on the Job Listing page.
Transitions Abroad provides a comprehensive guide to those who are seeking paid work, volunteer opportunities, or planning to intern, study or work abroad.
Whether it’s au pair, farming work, teaching a foreign language, or international jobs that you have in mind, the website provides valuable information on what you really need as well as testimonies from those who have been through these experiences themselves.
Craigslist is not only a platform for looking for job opportunities per se, but if you’re open to all types of job openings (including temporary and contract based ones) it would be perfect.
For example, I have found short-term gigs (that last for only one day or a week) on Craigslist to help supplement my income for traveling and while looking for longer contract-based work.
As the name suggests, you get to work (volunteer) away from home in another country or region in exchange for free accommodation by your host.
The type of volunteer work you engage in ranges from farm work and rearing of poultry and livestock, to contributing to household chores and of trade skills such as maintenance work and landscaping.
Memberships usually last for a year, after which you would be able to renew your subscription. If you and a friend or your partner plan to volunteer together, you can register for a couple account, which costs US $38. Individual accounts cost $29. Once the payment is made, you would have unlimited access to volunteer opportunities and potential hosts.
With Helpx, you will find plenty of volunteer opportunities abroad in exchange for free accommodation (and meals in some cases). These volunteer jobs include work in agriculture, organic farms, backpacker hostels, and ranches just to name a few. Depending on your hosts, you may be expected to commit at least 6 hours a day in return for meals.
Registration for a basic account is free but to gain access to all benefits and features of the website you would need to upgrade to the Premium membership, which is 20 Euros (valid for 2 years). Though this may seem to put you off at first, it may well be worth it if you’re considering volunteering or traveling for the long term.
Ever thought of learning a couple of foreign languages some day to be able to have a more immersive cultural and travel experience?
It’s proven to be possible (especially with author Benny Lewis’ language learning guide Fluent In 3 Months)! He offers a free email course to subscribers, and a comprehensive guide (including some of the tricks and best tips on tackling the challenges of picking up a language) to those who sign up and pay for lifetime membership. The last time I checked, it was only US $97.
By just signing up for a Duolingo account (for free), you get to learn a foreign language of your choice! It offers a multitude of languages such as French, Spanish, Portuguese, and just recently, Japanese.
As you progress, there will be practice questions on each level to ensure that you’re familiar with what you have learned. I personally find it pretty helpful for getting myself through the basics of French and Japanese.
Another great platform for learning foreign languages is Busuu, which offers courses in audio and video format in 12 languages. Registration for the ordinary account is free.
However, to access most features (including grammar exercises and the opportunity to converse with native speakers), you would need to upgrade to a paid premium membership, which is merely US $9 per month on a month-to-month basis or $5.50 each month for a year!
As a multimodal search engine, Rome2Rio provides a wide variety of transport options between places with a range of prices and length of duration.
What especially sets it apart from its competitors is the options to view prices and content in many foreign currencies and languages respectively. This website is thus great especially for non-native English travelers.
Looking for a cheaper or refreshing alternative to flying between your destinations?
You might want to consider a train ride then. Mark Smith (also known as The Man In Seat 61) provides a comprehensive guide to rail travel across the world. On the website, you will have access to valuable information on rail passes and tickets, routes, times, prices, and updates as well as websites where train tickets can be directly purchased.
If you ever need to take a ferry for your trip, look no further than Direct Ferries. You can search for and book ferry rides across the world based on the best prices, destinations, routes, or ferry operators.
Their customer service is also multilingual as it also operates in over 30 countries.
This is an excellent platform for searching for means of getting around Southeast Asia, whether it’s by bus, ferry, flight, or train.
If you’re already familiar with GoEuro, think of 12GO as its Southeast Asian version. It is not only easy to use and navigate, but is also difficult to beat in terms of costs of transportation.
Traveling around Japan by train can seem quite complicated because of the different rail lines that are operated by multiple private railway companies.
To ensure that your train journey is smooth going, check out HyperDia for train routes and schedules for your destinations. It provides information on a wide variety of rail travel options including the renowned high speed bullet train (Shinkansen).
Having operated inter-city bus routes to over 3500 destinations across North America, Greyhound is not only reliable but also highly recommended especially for those who want to save money on pricey flights or rail travel. Discounts and special rates are also offered for students and those who have served in the military (in the U.S. or Canada).
I have traveled multiple times on Greyhound within Canada and to the East Coast of U.S. and the experience has been positive for the most part.
Want to get to a destination that isn’t easily accessible by bus or flight? Or perhaps you want to save some money on transportation?
BlaBlaCar would be perfect for you then! It is a ridesharing service for members (either as the driver or guest) to share rides. As the guest, you would pitch in for the gas. As the driver, you get paid for driving everyone to their respective destinations.
GoEuro is a great travel metasearch engine for bus, flight, and rail travel in Europe. After finding and selecting your desired itinerary, you will be directed to the company’s website for booking your ticket.
The bus tickets advertised on GoEuro are some of the most affordable ones that I have ever come across. For example, a one-way ticket from Split to Zagreb (in Croatia) in September costs only 24 Euros (approximately US$ 27). Considering that this is the shoulder season for tourism in Croatia, it is a pretty good deal.
This is one of the best websites for booking tours in South America. Ranging from Machu Picchu to Salar de Uyuni, there are a wide variety of tours that are offered at affordable prices, and no booking fees involved.
In some cases, FindLocalTrips allow for a change of tour dates (up to 24 hours before your tour) should your plans change.
Don’t be deceived by its name! Bolivia Hop is not only meant for tours within Bolivia, but also covers Peru. It is a hop-on-hop-off bus tour company that operates tours in Bolivia, Peru, or both countries. Basically, if you want to explore more places, Bolivia Hop would provide you the option of getting off your stop to do some sightseeing first before traveling to your next destination.
It is also a reliable and safe bus and tour company as the drivers usually travel via the safer routes to avoid potential thefts and hijackings, which the Bolivian border and some routes in Peru are known for.
I usually start with Viator for checking out tours and excursions across the world. It has a great reputation and tours that cater to all types of travel preferences and styles such as budget, luxury, and family-friendly ones.
You also have the option of filtering tours at the top of the search list by price, duration of tour, ratings, and popularity. This just simplifies the process of finding tours that really interest you.
Get Your Guide works similarly to Viator, but one difference is that the list of tours that you search for will, by default, be arranged by price.
Also, you will be notified of the availability of tours that are almost or already sold out on a particular day and when the next available date would be. This way, you save time on finding out all of that information yourself.
There is a Best Price Guarantee to guests who have found a better deal for the same tour on another tour booking site. With proof of the lower price, you may be eligible for a refund of the money that you paid for your booking on Get Your Guide. This ensures that you always get the best deal for your trips!