The Best Travel Resources by Victoria Ugarte

Have you stopped to consider how the wonders of modern technology has impacted on our lives, and specifically, the way that we travel?  The information that we have at our fingertips via the internet not only make our travels more seamless, comfortable and enjoyable, it can also help keep us safe. But I’ll bet you didn’t know just how much is available out there for the frequent traveler. Perhaps you may even have some favorite sites of your own. Here are a list of useful travel sites and resources that I have come across over the years:

AirBandB.com: Why pay big money for a hotel when you can get luxurious accommodation in a local’s home for a fraction of the cost? Airbnb is a global net-work of accommodations offered by locals. From an old stone house in Tuscany for US$99 per night, to a studio apartment in Midtown East Side, New York for US$90 per night, this site is absolutely fantastic. You contact the home owner directly and rent by the night(s); it could be a portion of the house, a private room or the entire home.

American Red Cross Safe and Well:  After a disaster, letting your family and friends know that you are safe and well can bring your loved ones great peace of mind. The Red Cross Safe and Well website is designed to help make that communication easier. Concerned family and friends can search the list of those who have registered themselves as “safe and well” by clicking on the “Search Registrants” button. The results of a successful search will display a loved one’s first name, last name and a brief message.

Bing.com:
Not only can you search multiple travel sites, compare airline and hotel prices, find travel deals, and receive free fare predictions on this website, you can get driving and transit directions with local traffic and road conditions as well, finding the best routes to nearby businesses.

Couchsurfing.com: “Couchsurfing” refers to the practice of moving from one friend's house to another, sleeping in whatever spare space is available, floor or couch, generally staying a few days before moving on to the next house.

Established in 2004, CouchSurfing.com is an international non-profit network that connects travelers with locals in over 230 countries around the world. Free to register, members have the option of providing information and pictures of themselves and of the sleeping accommodation they offer, if any. Members that are looking for accommodation can search for hosts using several parameters such as age, location, gender, and activity level.The duration, nature, and terms of the guest's stay are generally worked out in advance, with no monetary exchange taking place except for compensation of expenses (e.g. food). There are strict security and screening measures in place, so it is quite safe. I know plenty of people, mostly in their 20’s, who have “couch-surfed” and have had extraordinary cultural experiences with friendly locals.

ExploreMyWorldTravel.com: Your one stop travel shop, there’s everything here from flight and accommodation booking facilities, travel accessories, travel books, travel tips, you name it. They’ll ease the pain and hassle of planning and organizing your trip so all you have to do is Explore, Discover, Live.

FlightAware.com: A useful site for the frequent business traveler, FlightAware provides live Tracking Maps, Flight Status, and Airport Delays for airline flights, private/GA flights, and airports all over the world.

Hermail.net: One of the main reasons why women do not travel more is that they have no one to travel with. Well, not anymore! Hermail.net is a free directory of women helping women travel. The way it works is like this: Suppose a woman liv-ing in New York is planning a trip to Japan and needs “insider's information” on the weather, accommodation, a mentor to help her settle into her new life in Japan, you name it. She simply keys in the name of the city she will be visiting and HERmail will instantly provide up to two female contacts at that destination - women who have previously registered with HERmail.net. The reasons for communicating are endless. HERmail provides the contacts for over 15,500 women from 35 countries. A woman need never feel vulnerable when traveling solo again.

Hospitality Club: Hospitality Club is the largest online hospitality exchange organisation whose aim is to bring people together - hosts and guests, travellers and locals. Thousands of Hospitality Club members around the world help each other when they are traveling - be it with a roof for the night or a guided tour through town. Joining is free, takes just a minute and everyone is welcome. Members can look at each other's profiles, send messages and post comments about their experience on the website.The club is supported by volunteers who believe in one idea: by bringing travelers in touch with people in the place they visit, and by giving "locals" a chance to meet people from other cultures we can increase intercultural understanding and strengthen the peace on our planet. The trick here is to check the prospective host’s profile carefully, and pick someone who has similar interests to you. If you’re a woman, you may also want to stick to a female host or families. This is a wonderful concept that many women travellers the world over swear by.

HostelBookers: With 3,500 accommodations listed worldwide, this is the site for every traveler looking for great budget accommodation. With each of the proper-ties being rated and reviewed by backpackers, HostelBookers is the only independent hostel booking site that has no booking fees.

iTranslate: iTranslate is a universal translator for your iPhone that translates words, phrases and text into over 50 languages.

Kayak.com: Kayak.com is a website based founded in 2004, which aggregates in-formation from hundreds of other travel sites and helps users book the cheapest flights, hotels, cruises, and rental cars. A great way to search hundreds of travel sites at once.

MileBlaster: MileBlaster frequent flyer miles and points tracker is the ultimate frequent flier tool. It’s available for the iPhone, iPad and iPod Touch as well as on the web.

SeatGuru: Run by Trip Advisor, SeatGuru is the ultimate source for airplane seating, in-flight amenities, and airline information. This website features aircraft seat maps, seat reviews, and a colour coded system to identify superior and substandard airline seats.

Trip Advisor: Where would we all be without Trip Advisor? This established travel site features reviews, advice, and booking facilities for hotels, B & B’s, and resorts the world over. TripAdvisor's Flight Search checks thousands of possible itineraries and finds you the lowest fares the most often of any online flight finder. You can visit Trip Advisor’s busy travel forums and get all your questions answered about any destination in the world before you go. I never book any new accommodation without checking the reviews on Trip Advisor first.

Trace My Trip: Trace My Trip is a great site that helps you plan your trip with the use of an online mapping tool, a booking system that makes it easy to organize flights and accommodation without booking fees and credit card fees, and offers a platform for you to share your travel photos, blogs, and videos with your family and friends while you’re on your journey.

Weather.com: Weather.com can show you local weather for thousands of cities around the world.

Yapta.com: Via emailing alerts, Yapta helps you to know when to book your flights to get the best value, and it finds hotels that match your preferences. If the price of your airline ticket drops below what you paid, Yapta will alert you when you're eligible for a refund from the airline.

And lastly, the governments of the following countries give important travel advice and security updates per country, issuing travel warnings when appropriate. Do make it a habit to check the status of your destination on one of these sites before planning your next vacation.

Australian Government Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade:

British Foreign and Commonwealth Office:

Foreign Affairs Canada:

United States State Department:

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