Q: What are the best travel blogs and planning websites for budget travel?
First of all, you need to establish if you’re planning this trip alone (looking at maps, buying tickets, winging it) OR if you are using an itinerary service (they do this for you) OR if you are traveling with a pre-established tour group (they plan most things in advance and you pay a flat fee). If you’re thinking about traveling alone, this Huffington Post article might debunk some of your fears.
Airtreks.com gives trip quotes and maps out destination cities. The ticket price can get rather large but you can work directly with a specialist who will customize your trip for you. I’d look into this for a foundational idea once you have a trip in mind.
Snoworsand.com is one of my favorite Mediterranean companies. The guys who run it are well traveled Americans who are familiar with the countries, and the travel-style of most college age kids. They can customize your own trip like they helped me with my first Greece trip. Since I worked with them a few years ago, the company expanded and now runs customized group tours too. You don’t need your own group to book a tour, you can jump on one of the already established dates. They also partner with local guides so you’ll get the true flavor of the country you visit. Ask for Nicco Kurlas.
As for websites on how to plan for travel, I’m partial to Lostgirlsworld.com. It’s a great online resource for young women travelers. You can search locations, trips, how to pack, how to travel alone, read other travelers’ stories. It’s a good inspirationl idea-generator. Check out this site to help you narrow down what kind of trip you think you want to take.
Travelsquire.com is an online travel magazine and an itinerary planning service so you’ll get a lot of fodder for trip ideas here. I’d recommend signing up for the Squire’s newsletter– it’s one of the smarter travel newsletters chalk-full of good stories.
Johnnyjet.com has good travel deals, a strong travel news roundup and well researched travel tips. He travels a lot so he has strong first-hand experience of what you’ll probably go through.
Gadling.com has some of the best up-to-date budget travel content (this tends to get outdated quickly in printed guidebooks). You can search by destination for place-specific tips in that country on how to save money.
Two Backpackers is a travel blog heavy with video and South American content. These two dropped their jobs to travel around the world on a budget. Definitely check out their trips and stories.
Asiatravel.com is similar to johnnyjet.com where they offer deals and flights. You can book flight and hotel packages here, but if you’re thinking about backpacking I’d go with the hostel options. Touted travel writer Chuck Thompson says Japan is actually the safest country for women travelers in his opinion. Women walk around the streets late at night and don’t seem fearful there, so as long as you exercise caution I’d say Asia is a good place to start.
Finally, matadornetwork.com has a page of trip ideas worth checking out.
Some of the larger travel networks like AOL, CBS, HuffPo and Yahoo might have good ideas on their travel section page but that’ll take a lot of sifting through bogus hits and crappy writing. I’d use these only as search engines and as a last resource.
It’s good you’re thinking about this so early. I’d basically start reading a ton of travel blogs, travel news, watching trips online, tracking flights, and thinking about what kind of trip you want. As soon as you figure out how you want to travel and where you want to go, the sooner you can plan in tangibles. But no rush! I planned my 2-week solo trip a week before I left and changed it along the way. That’s the beauty of travel. Sometimes, you can just go.