Here is a collection of both general travel and country-specific websites we’ve used to book hotels, figure out logistics, or just gather information.
Lonely Planet guidebooks are indispensible in Southeast Asia, but we’ve found them somewhat lacking in the Middle East (i.e. Turkey and Egypt). Their Thorntree Forum can be very helpful when you’re off the beaten path and you need some information that the books are lacking.
Lonely Planet has great info, but their books are only updated once every two years, which means it is often out of date by the time it’s in your hands (especially in places like SE Asia, where prices can change from week to week). Also, many hotels and restaurants can suffer from what we call “Lonely Planet Syndrome,” meaning they jack up their rates or the quality decreases once they’re mentioned in the backpacker’s bible. Wikitravel usually has more current info and can be a great source for hostel and hotel recommendations.
Great resource for hotel information in developed countries, esp. Europe. To find information on hostels, click on the “Specialty Lodging” tab at the top of a specific city’s hotels page.
We haven’t used this service yet, but we’ve met other travelers who have had great experiences with it, especially in larger cities. We cant wait to use it and report back!
US State Department Country-Specific Travel Requirements
If you’ve got a US passport, click on this page to find out visa and entry requirements for any country in the world.
A good place to start if you are researching an around-the-world trip.
A budget airline that flies the all the major cities in Asia and Australia.
A Buenos Aires-centric food blog. DROOL.
The “Southwest Airlines” (i.e., budget airline) of Australia. Note: if you are flying into Melbourne, don’t make the same mistake we did and fly into Avalon. It’s out in the boonies.
For last minute hotel deals. Technically, they cover hotels around the world, but it’s really most developed in Australia.
We found our apartment in Sydney via this website. The apartment was in a great location (Potts Point), the price was reasonable (about US$125 per night over the NYE holiday, when apartment rental prices can go through the roof), and the staff was very professional.
A little steep for a private room, but otherwise a GREAT little backpacker spot in an excellent location in Melbourne.
We rented a camera from Cairns Unlimited for 3 days, and it cost about 75AUD, approx. US$58 (which is a good deal considering rental on the boat is about 25AUD per dive or something like that?). They were great! Not only did they deliver the camera to our hostel, but they picked it up after we got off the boat, and delivered a DVD with all our images the next day. Now that’s what we call professional! Check out the photos from our dive trip here.
An excellent resource on the major sites in Bolivia, plus transport and accommodation info.
A great online resource (in English!) for hotel bookings and flight arrangements. We typically pay the same amount for a hotel using this website as we would if we stayed in hostels. We’ve also found great flight deals on this website—we flew from Wuhan to Shanghai for 200RMB each (about US$30)…cheaper than taking the train! And best of all, they came to the rescue when a hotel in Beijing was trying to upsell us to a pricier room, saying that the budget room we booked was not available. A great resource in a country that’s not exactly known for it’s service skills.
ChinaTravelGuide.com Train Schedule
An online database of China’s train schedules. Just type in two cities, and all routes between point A and point B will be listed! Super handy!
A great website for online hotel bookings at discounted rates. We wanted to extend our stay at a hotel in Kyoto, and when we asked at the front desk, the price was 2000 yen (about US$20) more expensive than the online price! So we booked the extra night online and spent our extra yen on a bowl of ramen.
You simply *must* buy this rail pass if you are thinking traveling around Japan on a budget. A 7-day pass is almost the same price as a round-trip ticket from Tokyo to Kyoto, so if you have any other destinations in mind, it’s worth it!
Incredible online resource on Jordan, by a Western woman who now lives part of the year in Wadi Musa. So good we didn’t need any other guide (ex. Lonely Planet) for the country.
We picked up this road atlas in New Zealand, available at any supermarket or drug store. It was awesome! Campsites, gas stations, and activities are clearly marked on the map with icons, so you know if the town you’re approaching has a holiday park, a surf break, or a glacier. We didn’t have a Lonely Planet or other guide in New Zealand…just this trusty map and some recommendations from a friend we met on the plane.
Excellent and current guide to transport and accommodation in a region where guesthouses can go out of business from one week to the next and border crossings can close in a heartbeat. Definitely a must for anyone thinking about backpacking through this region.
Everything you could ever want to know about Taiwan—from where to find used clothing to the best hiking trails. And it’s in English!
Taipei Day Trips I & II by Richard Saunders
A wonderful guide to hiking and walking trails all within day-trip distance of Taiwan’s capital. We did at least 5 of the trips outlined in Taipei Day Trips I while we were in Taipei.