April 11, 2013

7 Essential travel planning tips & resources

When you're planning a trip on your own, without travel agencies that organize everything from start to finish, what to visit and where to eat, you must need to know where to find the information as easy and efficient as possible. For me, the journey begins long before reaching the destination, and this planning process is one of the most important; I really enjoy it, reading, viewing photos and look for the information about the place I'm looking forward to visit. Here I give you some tips & resources for planning your travel:


When you are searching for the best hotel to stay, a restaurant really worth it or having the best value for money, what you should not miss in a city and which companies make the best day-tours, what you really need is to search on reviews.

You will find there what is most valued by travelers who have discovered it previously and left feedback about it, describing what they liked and what it should be improved.

Specifically, I always read two pages to look for reviews and genuine advice from other users: Tripadvisor and Mi Nube. It's the best way to get inspired!

Maps and guidebooks at the Travel Bookshop

Travel forums

What to say about the forums...amazing forums... It was my first great source of information on the Internet for traveling with my mind. I was planning a trip to India for a whole year which I haven't done yet, and forums helped me learn firsthand about that wonderful country, its culture, cities, customs, etc.

Anything you need to know about a country, is in a travel forum. And if you can't find it, no problem, you can always ask. You write in the forum what you need to know and almost without realizing, not one, but many travelers are advising you on tours, vaccines, and restaurants. A resource that you should never ignore when organizing your trip. No matter if you go for the weekend or round the world trip, on the forums you can find that information.

In my opinion, one of the best forums that we've all used sometimes, or continuously, as in my case, is Los Viajeros.


Another essential would be the forum of Lonely Planet, also very complete and with millions of users to share their thoughts and experiences about travel. 

Traveling communities

For me, a great discovery. To be honest, until few months ago I didn't use this resource to plan my trips, but not because it is not useful, but because I didn't know them. I ignored how necessary it can become traveling communities to find hidden gems that are worth visiting, not so tourist places, that beach that you should not miss, advice on a specific city or even things you should not forget in your suitcase.

The good thing about these communities is that they are not created by a single traveler, which could limit the information, but for hundreds and thousands of travelers contributing their bit, those hidden corners, their essential places to visit so when you choose where you want to go, you can know everything about that country or city from many different points of view. Now it has become an indispensable resource for me!

I will mention the three communities that use the most, and of course, as a traveler, I know how important it is to participate in them, and I do so, so I encourage you to contribute with your corners and tips:


Blogs by travelers

In this section, I won't ention any particular blog, because I have to tell you that I follow hundreds of blogs a day, and when I make a trip, I read all the blogs I know to that use and also discover new blogs.

Personally, this resource is one of the best when it comes to planning a trip. To discover the country or the city from a blogger point of view who has already been there, has previously been documented and now gives its tips, advice and recommendations on that destination. It is the most valuable information!

Travel guidebooks

There are many types of guidebookd that can be used to prepare a trip, some with more photos, others with more complete information, with tours and routes according to days to be spent at each place...

In my case, when I decide to travel, 90% of the time I use a guidebook, either purchased or borrowed. In case it's a short-trip, weekend or a day-trip, I do not use any.

I have to say my favorites are Lonely Planet guides. Yes, it has not a lot of pictures, but you can find very comprehensive and detailed
information and it've always been very helpful for me. Other interesting guides that I recommend are Guide du Routard and Rough Guides.
Travel guidebooks

Travel magazines

Sometimes when I walk by a newsstand or a bookstore and I sotp at the travel magazines department. Many have special items of a particular destination or even an entire issue of a country and the information is very good, besides including first hand traveler opinion pieces that can guide you. Among them, I would recommend Altaïr, National Geographic Traveler, Viajar and a great discovery, Wild Junket Magazine.
Maps and weather forecasting

Never organize a trip without knowing the weather I expected in cities i will visit. Clearly it is an estimation, since you can not know for sure the weather will be in a few months, but you can get an idea of ​​the trends from previous years and see if it rains a lot in a country in June or if monsoon in September. I normally use Accuweather and Weather.

And of course, maps are a must. How to get to a particular location, distances between cities, routes within a city, what else can you ask for? To do this, good maps are famous
Google Maps and Repsol Guide

escritos sobre mapas

With all these resources, plan a trip has become an experience, a continuous learning and communication between travelers totally rewarding. And do you know the best part of it? They all complement each other, and when you use them and participate in all of them, you'll be complete.

Do you use these resources to plan your trips? Did I miss out any of your favorite planning resources?

Thank you for your contributions!