Planning an epic trip takes a lot of effort. From seeking out the best hotels, to finding budget flights and finalising the ultimate itinerary, you could spend weeks and weeks sorting everything out.
But, there are lots of tools and resources at your fingertips to help you with your travel planning, and these travel resources are a good start to help you on your way.
As for the aspiring travel bloggers among you, take a look towards the end of this page and you’ll find your Travel Blogger Toolkit. Here, I give you a sneakpeek into the tools I use to help make this site a success, so that you too, can start writing about your own travels.
TripAdvisor is great for researching the country or city you’re travelling to. Lots of travellers write about their own first-hand experiences, including things to be aware of, tips and advice ahead of your trip. TripAdvisor is also a great starting point to giving you ideas of what to see, what to do and where to go on your trip.
Tripit is a phone app, compiling all of your flight reservations, hotel bookings, and excursions into one place, whilst creating an itinerary based on the information they get from your linked email account. This is all done automatically and allows you to easily keep track of your bookings.
We all know about Google Maps, but what about their My Maps feature? This allows you to plot out an itinerary or wish list of places you want to visit on your trip, and then you can save the map for when you are finally there. Let Google Maps take you to each of the places included on your custom map with just one click of a button.
Google Trips is similar to Tripit. But there’s one fantastic difference! They also have a variety of city and country travel guides that are automatically added to your account based on where you’ve booked hotels, excursions and flights to. These are even available offline (providing you download them).
Lonely Planet is a treasure trove when it comes to travel planning and advice. Whether you choose to browse their website, peruse their guidebooks or subscribe to their monthly travel magazine, there is a whole wealth of knowledge and travel inspiration to be obtained from them.
Hotels.com is my first stop when booking accommodation. They offer decent prices and a large variety of places all over the world - from luxury 5* hotels, to decent 3* villas and budget hostels. And the best bit? Once you’ve collected 9 nights with them, you get the 10th free. Plus, once you’ve booked with Hotels.com a fair amount, you will become a Bronze, Silver or Gold member offering you exclusive offers and discounts.
Although Booking.com sadly don’t offer loyalty programmes and discounts like Hotels.com, they do often have some of the best prices around. When not booking with Hotels.com, Booking.com is almost always next on my list.
Airbnb offers great alternatives to hotels. There are often some quirky places to stay with Airbnb too, including fabulous treehouses, wooden cabins and icy igloos. One small word of caution though - most places add city tax and cleaning fees to the price. But, if you book via this link, you’ll receive £25 off your first booking!
As an independent flight checker across a large variety of airlines, you can be sure you’re going to get some of the best prices when booking with Skyscanner. I love their feature that allows you to enter the month you wish to travel in, and they will offer you their cheapest and best options for destinations all over the world.
Right up there with Skyscanner as being a fantastic flight comparison checker is Google Flights. Obviously they are independent, so again, you can be certain that the prices you’re seeing are the best. You can also gain some travel inspiration by selecting the month in which you wish to travel and for how long you wish to vacation for.
This is a free email service that anyone can sign up to. The team at Scott’s Cheap Flights check flights on a daily basis, finding you bargains across the world. The reason the flights are so cheap? Often, they are mistake fares, so it’s all about booking quickly before the airlines realise their error.
Trains & Car Hire
If travelling through Italy by train, Trenitalia should be your first port of call. Here, you can find great prices for train journeys (both for the local services and cross-country services). Providing you book at least 3 months in advance, you can easily find First Class tickets for the same price as Standard Class tickets.
Interrail journeys are incredibly popular, and with cheap train travel gaining you access to a number of top destinations across Europe, it’s easy to see why. If you’re planning on visiting multiple European countries by train, Interrail should be your first and only choice for booking and route planning.
When it comes to car hire, it can be tough finding the best prices, without falling down on quality cars and customer service. This is where Kayak come in. As an independent price comparison site, they offer great prices for some of the major car hire places as well as smaller companies.
Travel Blogger Toolkit
Snapseed is a free mobile app that allows you to make a few small edits to photos taken with your phone. This app always comes into play within my Instagram strategy, so that I can be sure I’m always posting vibrant and high-quality photos.
When it comes to blogging, you will need a host. There are lots of options out there, but simply for their support and troubleshooting services, prices and near perfect up-time, SiteGround are a great option. There are a variety of different pricing plans, based on your monthly site visits and upload database space.
You may have heard the words Domain Authority (DA) and Page Authority (PA) batted around a fair amount within the blogging circle. Essentially, these scores (marked out of 100) give you an idea of how well your blog will rank in Google and other search engines. Take a look at your DA and PA right now with this super easy URL checking tool.
Whether companies choose to steal photographs, snippets of your fabulously crafted words, or even entire articles, plagiarism is sadly, large scale in every field (but most prevalent in blogging). Copyscape is a really simple tool, allowing you to enter your URL, whilst they check whether any of the text from your site is found on other sites.
Another free photo editing tool, this time, for your desktop. Fotor is a really simple tool to use, allowing you to crop and straighten images, as well as adding effects to help bring your photos alive.
When it comes to running a successful website, data is your best friend. You can use this tool to figure out which articles are your most popular, how many visitors you’re gaining and how long people stick around for. Some key metrics to keep an eye on are: unique monthly visitors, page views, new vs returning visitors, gender, age, bounce rate and session duration.
Canva is a website that helps you create masterpieces in design. From creating your first logo, to perfecting Pinterest pins and designing colourful infographics, this is a great tool to use. Oh, and did I mention it’s free? There is a pro version you can purchase, but in my opinion, it’s not necessary.
Email addresses are liquid gold when it comes to blogging. What better method is there for bringing readers to your site, asking them questions or seeking some other form of engagement from them? MailChimp is a perfect little email marketing platform, which is completely free until you reach 2000 email subscribers. And with their mascot being a cute and sassy monkey - what more is there to like?
Photoshop is a tool I’ve only recently added to my toolkit, however, I would now feel lost without it. I use this to help me craft the featured images on my blog posts - whether it’s a simple resizing, or a more detailed edit to move parts of the image around.
This is the best tool to use to help you understand what people are searching for in Google to get to your website - you may be surprised at some of the findings! You can also slice and dice the data to figure out which articles are not ranking as highly as you’d like and thus, which ones you should focus your SEO efforts on a bit more.
If monetising your blog is something you wish to get involved with, then Awin (formerly Affiliate Window) are a fantastic option. They have a number of affiliate partners across multiple industries, and a very simple method of signing up for affiliate programmes. You need to pay Awin £5 when you first sign up, which is refunded with your first commission payment.