The 20 Best Travel Websites on the Internet 201212/26/2012
The updated 2012 20 Best Travel Websites on the Internet features a few repeats, some new up-starts, and a whole-lota competition for your eyeballs! I left off some really useful websites that I browse quite frequently. In addition, I did NOT include travel sections from major online and offline corporations. Sites like Yahoo! Travel, CNN Travel, and Google+ Hangouts offer great travel advice, but these websites are not dedicated exclusively to the art of traveling.
The following is a list of the 20 Best Travel Websites on the Internet for 2012.
You can see which ones made the cut from the 2011 blog post on The 20 Best Travel Websites on the Internet
The Top 20!
CouchSurfing is still the best travel site on the internet. In addition to meeting wonderful people around the world by crashing on their couch, CS has allowed me to experience events where I can meet other travelers in the cities I visit. Many of my best travel experiences have come from the CouchSurfing community. Two weeks ago I went to Jakarta, Indonesia and couch surfed. Tomorrow I will be doing actual surfing in Bali through a friend I met in the Jakarta CouchSurfing community.
This year I hosted about 10 groups at my house. The people I met while I was not traveling were absolutely fascinating and many remain friends today. I always check for references whenever I welcome someone into my home. I did not have a single bad experience hosting.
The site remains an incredible resource for travel information. The Activities and Group pages allow travelers to get insight into local events, things to do, and resources for budget conscious travelers. Oh ya, the original premise behind the site is still useful...a free place to stay. I hope this site continues to do big things in the future and remain a top notch resource for budget-minded travelers.
I continue to use Momondo on an almost daliy basis when researching the absolute cheapest flights. Momondo's UI continues to impress and their iphone app is also simple, clean, and effective. They do not take booking fees so you get the absolute lowest fare possible
I've tried Skyscanner
, and many others, but Momondo still is the cheapest, usually by a few dollars, but sometimes more. The new feature I really enjoy is the ability to check to compare prices on different dates. If flexibility is the way you travel, Momondo can find the lowest fare in any give timeframe.
And the first new entry to the list is also an airfare booking site. (Note: Air travel is the most expensive cost for budget travelers. If you want to save big bucks while traveling, it starts with finding the cheapest airfare possible.)
Adioso is on the list for one simple yet extremely powerful tool, the ability to see the cheapest flight from your location to anywhere in the world. I've found incredible places for dirt cheap that weren't even on my radar. In addition, this site allows you to monitor that price, notifying you of any price changes.
Adioso is also great for last minute travelers who need to make visa runs or those who are open to finding a cheap flight anywhere in the world.
AirBnB is doing big things in the vacation rental space these days. When I first mentioned them last year, they were a hot start-up with loads of potential. Recently they have come to fulfill some of that potential and have built one amazing community.
If you aren't on this site, I highly recommend you signup to save and MAKE money. Last year I was able to rent out my property during special events in Austin (SXSW and ACL). My roommate and I made as much as $800 a night leasing out our home. Since we know Austin well we both stayed with friends and cashed in big time.
Now my landlord was none too pleased upon finding out what we were doing and put an end to it. I wouldn't recommend doing what we did unless you are the actual home owner. In addition, recently laws require you pay taxes to the state for any money earned.
For travelers AirBnB offers the ability to stay in places you'd almost never be able to book through traditional methods. How would you like to stay in a castle, missile silo, or private aircraft? AirBnB allows travelers to book all the above and you can find great deals. Great site and awesome way to travel.
Hipmunk's customer-centric algorithms list the absolute best flights and hotels available. Would you prefer a flight with a 5 hour layover or one that is direct but maybe $5 more expensive? Hipmunk takes these factors into consideration and finds you (the customer) the best available flight.
I really enjoy their mapping feature which allows you to locate cheap accommodation and compare on a map. This hot young startup has the potential to replace Momondo as my flight booking engine of choice.
Any questions I have regarding anything travel I go to Travellerspoint. I prefer their forums over competitors like Lonely Planet
because of the overall knowledge of the community. Most users on the site are travelers themselves providing useful first-hand knowledge.
The destination forums especially provide great information. Any questions regarding visas, diseases, and legalities should be research here first before traveling.
My accommodation website of choice is Hostelworld. Nothing sexy about this one. Hostelworld has been around a few years now and has the largest number of hostels and guesthouses listed anywhere. The reviews and ratings are extremely helpful when determining the best accommodation option. I always give Hostelworld a look before booking any rooms.
Trip Advisor is one of the world's largest travel websites. Lately they've been scooping up travel companies to expand their ever-growing empire. They are the premier site for anything and everything travel planning and reviews. A travel company's fate can rest on the good or bad reviews from the wonderful and enormous Trip Advisor community.
I wanted to add sites like Seatguru
to my top 20 list, but those two were recently acquired by Trip Advisor. Check out the list of travel companies operating under the Trip Advisor umbrella.
There are some real gems in there.
Flyertalk takes airline traveling hacking to the extreme. The community is made up of true jet-setter pros with a passion for finding loopholes, bargains, and mileage related deals in the airline travel industry. Any questions on what type of credit card to travel with, where to find the best deals anywhere, and how to do "mileage runs" should be directed to this site.
You will not find better experts anywhere on how to redeem those frequent flier miles our credit card companies love to advertise. I used this board almost exclusively before my Europe trip to find the best credit for my travels (Capital One).
Travellr is basically Yahoo! Answers for travel, but with no spam and more intelligent users. (Sorry Yahoo! but the questions and responses on Answers can be mind boggling!)
This simple to use site allows travelers to get the advice they need in a quick and timely manner. The rating system encourages the experts to answer questions quickly and informatively, building reputation and bragging rights in the community.
I definitely see a lot of potential for Travellr as long as the community does well in avoiding spam and maintaing a clean, easy to use question and answering experience.
Tripit right now is the premier tool for uploading your travel itinerary and planning trips. The features on this site are incredible! I even paid their $49/year fee to use Tripit Pro. The tool is that good!
Tripit allows you to email flights, hotel bookings, car rentals, train tickets, museum passes, and much more. They do all the organizing for you. I am a big fan of their alerts system and trip tracker. You can see how many miles you've traveled as well as a detailed map of all the locations visited.
Gogobot is a newer site I found that combines travel with social networking. You can share locations with friends on Facebook and Twitter, pin sites and activities on Pintrest, and earn points by reviewing. The points system is a unique and great feature. Travelers earn points by reviewing hotels, attractions, restaurants, and sharing photos. The gaming aspect of this site keeps user engaged by improving their "street cred".
In addition, Gogobot's iphone app is just beautiful! The pictures really jump out on the smartphone and you have the ability to turn those photos into professional-looking postcards. This site has the potential to earn some major reputation in the travel industry.
I looped these two outstanding websites together because they should be your one (or two)-stop shop for booking cruises. Vacationstogo has one of the largest (if not the largest) databases for finding cruises. Type in approximate departure dates, the region you'd like to visit, and departure port to find available cruise ships.
Next, go to CruiseCompete to find the best prices on the cruises you found through Vacationstogo. You can request a quote and the numerous travel agents on the site compete to offer the best possible deal.
Anything and everything regarding train travel should be directed to the wonderful website Seat61. The site has outstanding resources for updated travel information around the world. Especially in Europe, where train travel is the norm, Seat61 helps you find the absolute lowest prices available.
A new site called Trippy integrates with Facebook, Twitter, Google+, and other social networking sights to have your friends help plan your vacation. I've seen a lot of these social networking/travel sites popup in recent months, however, Trippy is one of the best.
The Facebook integration is especially seamless and the simple to use site lets you easily and effectively receive recommendations, post photos, and follow other friends travel.
AutoSlash may be able to find cheaper car rentals than you. I believe they are right!
This site is unique in that they continue to look for cheaper deals with rental agencies AFTER you book. If a lower price is found you receive a notification and the deal is booked automatically. AutoSlash claims an 85% success rate in finding cheaper deals after the initial booking.
The website is truly unique in the industry and exists only because the major players in the car rental space (Enterprise, Avis, and Hertz to name a few) flood the market with coupons allowing for major discounts. I definitely recommend checking out this site before making any car rentals.
The Wikipedia travel section, Wiki-travel, offers the largest, comprehensive database of travel locations in the world. I almost always research here to find information on the location, culture, history, events, and travel information of a city I am visiting.
Like Wikipedia, I sometimes find myself in an endless loop of clicking links to research various travel topics. You will not find better update information. Wiki-travel is a great place to begin for all your travel planning needs.
Unusual Hotels of the World
The name says it all. There's unusual and there's UNUSAL!
For a different lodging experience or to spend a few minutes of your day looking for that WOW! factor, visit UnusualHotelsoftheWorld. A quick glance on the site brought up rental properties on a bomber jet, tree house, underground bunker, military prison, and Indian tepee.
I included Oyster mostly for the potential they have to really gain a footing in the hotel review industry, an industry currently dominated by Trip Advisor.
Unlike Trip Advisor, where reviews can be anonymous, Oyster gives it's users detailed, brutally-honest reviews of hotel stays. The photos, travel guides, and mapping features allow travelers to get a feel not only for the hotel but the area they will be staying.
However, at present moment, Oyster is limited to hotels in the United States and outlying Caribbean Islands. I'm expecting some explosive growth next year with expansion into the European, Australian, South American and Asian markets.
Looking for inspiration? TripTuner is a great little site where you can get travel ideas based on interests. I love the simplicity of the site, adjusting the slider like a volume knob to find travel locations.
Like many of the newer travel planning sites, TripTuner integrates a social element, allowing the user to share details of destinations on Facebook and Twitter. In addition, the "Save Settings" feature is useful for additional research or to compare other "fine tuned" results.
A special thanks to....
Though Ecoteer did not make my Top 20 list they do deserve a special mention on a personal level. They got me off my lazy butt in Texas by offering me a job to teach English to the local children in Malaysia, manage the volunteers, paint houses, gardening, and experience a different side of traveling I've never experienced.
Even though I am finished with the project I continue to travel (currently in Bali, Indonesia as I write this) because I was inspired to leave everything behind in the United States to work for a cause.
Thanks guys and keep up the great work!