5 Free Travel Planning Resources For Your Next Trip
Before heading off on vacation this summer, do your research ahead of time to ensure you make the most of your trip. There are so many resources available for free online these days that designing a trip that fits your interests is actually pretty simple—even if you simply want to wander hip districts on a city break or relax in nature.
Whether you opt to create a detailed itinerary or are just seeking ideas, there are a ton of resources available at your fingertips!
1. Create a map on Google Maps
One of my favorite tools for planning a trip is the feature on Google Maps called My Maps. This allows users to drop pins on a map, which is a great way to keep of places that catch your eye. The pins can even be changed to your desired color and symbol if you are a Type-A trip planner. You can then open this map on your phone to help you navigate any new location.
2. Search for destination information on Pinterest and Instagram
Pinterest and Instagram are more than just social media apps—they are great resources for trip information. Once I have a destination in mind, I search in Pinterest to find images, articles, and blog posts that I save to a specific trip board. I’m really into unique food experiences, so I mainly use Instagram to see what local foodies are sharing from the destination I’m planning to visit.
By searching food related hashtags and discovering local Instagrammers, you can find some awesome hole-in-the-wall eateries. Then, I use the information that catches my eye from both Pinterest and Instagram to include on a designated Google Map. Just do keep in mind that images from Instagram and Pinterest are notoriously manipulated or Photoshopped, which can make some destinations look unrealistic.
3. Connect with groups on Facebook
If you are a first-time traveler, solo female traveler, nervous traveler, or planning an extended trip, this tip is especially relevant for you! Facebook groups, particularly those geared at women travelers like Travelettes and Travel Fashion Girl, are great for asking questions and connecting with other like-minded women.
For those planning an extended trip, expat groups are also available in different cities around the world that are great places to ask questions and find resources.
4. Book local experiences
If you’d like to meet locals and enjoy some wonderful cultural exchange during your travels, numerous websites can help you connect with locals.
For example, BonAppetour connects you with home cooks for food walking tours or meals in a local’s home! EatWith and Traveling Spoon are two more of the many options out there for enjoying home cooked local meals. I’ve enjoyed several of these experiences around the world and absolutely have to recommend them!
5. Read blogs or watch YouTube videos
I love, love reading blogs, especially when planning a trip. Reading blogs, particularly those that share their travel adventures, provide unique, personalized insight into a destination. Seeing a location through another’s eyes is a really special way to help you plan your own trip. Some of my go-tos include Department of Wandering, Hand Luggage Only, and Local Adventurer.
YouTube is another excellent option for getting travel tips pertinent to different cities. Simply search your favorite YouTubers videos or search for videos on the location you plan to visit. I quite like the videos created by Samuel and Audrey of Backpacking Travel TV since they are realistic, chatty, and provide great foodie tips.
Now all you need to do is get out there and explore!