7 essential sites for travel planning in 2015

January isn’t always the most fun time of year: everyone is broke, it’s cold and suddenly you have to pay for indulging yourself so much over Christmas. Spring seems like a lifetime away.

But the New Year is a great time for travel planning.

With so many posts about this year’s best destinations, it’s a brilliant time to prioritise where you want to go, when you want to visit and how you’re going to get there – and there are some great sites out there to help you do exactly that.

Here, I’ve compiled a list of the travel sites I use most often for finding flights, plotting routes and catching trains, which should give you a helping hand.

Deciding when to go

  1. Travel advice calendars – trivago
Travel advice calendars from trivago

Travel advice calendars from trivago

Unless you have friends in good places or are a serial couch surfer, accommodation will generally make up the bulk of your 2015 travel costs – but picking when you go can help save you a bundle.

trivago’s travel advice calendars show you the most expensive and cheapest times to visit popular cities across the world, using past hotel price data.

Finding budget flights

  1. Skypicker.com
Skypicker.com

Skypicker.com

Like most frequent travellers, I have spent far too long daydreaming with Skyscanner’s addictive ‘Everywhere’ travel option. However, I am around an hour to 90 minutes’ travel away from four different airports.

Skypicker lets you set a search radius encompassing several local airports in one search. It also features all budget airlines (including Ryanair and WizzAir) which aren’t always found on Skyscanner.

  1. Fare Finder – Ryanair
Ryanair Fare Finder

Ryanair Fare Finder

The budget airline that everybody loves to hate, Ryanair has really upped its game recently, with a better site and very responsive Twitter team.

Part of the new site includes the Fare Finder, which can find the cheapest days to travel to a specific destination, as well as the most affordable places to fly to from a certain airport. Simply enter your departing airport and your dates of travel to find the cheapest place to fly to.

  1. Inspire me – easyJet
easyJet.com 'Inspire Me' homepage

easyJet.com ‘Inspire Me’ homepage

I really like this feature from EasyJet, which has been around for a year or so. Simply enter your departing airport, a timeframe and a ‘theme’ of travel (i.e. city break, beach, winter getaway), as well as a price limit, and you can see all your possible easyJet connections. Simple.

Top tip: Some flight comparison sites, such as Skyscanner, don’t always show Ryanair connections, so it’s a good idea to go straight to the website of a budget airline to double-check.

Planning a route

  1. Rome2Rio.com
Rome2rio homepage

Rome2rio homepage

Probably the site on this list I use the most often, Rome2rio is great for plotting the best way to get from A to B.

Much more comprehensive than Google maps, Rome2rio shows you a number of different routes via plane, train, bus, car, taxi and more to give you a sense of how long it will take. I haven’t tried booking anything with them yet, but the site is great for checking the feasibility of day trips.

Top tip: Consult travel forums to find recent threads about local bus routes or train routes if you’re worried they might not exist anymore.

On the ground – apps 

  1. DB navigator app – Deutsche Bahn
DB Navigator screengrab

DB Navigator screengrab

Though it might not be the most exciting app in the world, you can’t beat the wisdom of Deutsche Bahn. Functional but entirely uninspiring, the app is perfect for checking train connections and invaluable when it comes to checking platforms when making a tight changeover.

  1. XE app
XE currency app screengrab

XE currency app screengrab

Again, while it won’t win any prizes for its simple design, you simply can’t beat XE when it comes to exchange rates. The app is very quick, so it’s great to refer to on the road.

2014 has been a good year for travel for me

Looking ahead to travel in 2015

So there you have it. This list is definitely not exhaustive, but these are the sites and apps I depend on the most when I’m planning a trip – or even pre-planning a trip. I’m always keen to discover new sites, so please comment below if there is another site you couldn’t plan without!

COMING SOON: My travel plans for 2015

 

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39 responses to “7 essential sites for travel planning in 2015

  1. The advice calendars are awesome! Apparently I am planning on going to Stockholm during one of the cheapest months, yay! I’d like Ryan Air’s Fare Finder more if they had more flights from Bucharest, right now they only have 4, boo! 😦

    • They are really useful, aren’t they? Apparently I’m going to Marrakech during the most expensive time… whoops.

      Ryanair used to have quite a few from the UK to Bucharest I think but it looks like WizzAir took over all their routes. I know what you mean though – Manchester was amazing for Ryanair but Dusseldorf isn’t so cheaply connected 😦

  2. The calendars are really useful especially if you’re just kind of searching for a cheap holiday on a whim. And I live by the xe.com app!

  3. Great resources and several I wasn’t aware of. Wish I relished the planning more but it’s such an essential aspect of successful travel. The trick for me is planning enough and leaving space for the travel magic and serendipity to fill in the gaps. Happy travels.

    • I always half-jokingly say the planning is just as fun as the actual travelling, because I really enjoy it. I love doing my research and finding a less-trodden route. Magic and serendipity is still very important too, though.

    • The travel calendars seem to be pretty popular – I think they are a brilliant idea. So simple, but so useful when thinking about your bucket list destinations.

    • Oooh, where abouts are you heading? I’ve been reading so much about the South at the minute, specifically New Orleans and Savannah.
      Will you be travelling much for work this year?

      • Wedding in New Jersey, possibly a couple of drinks in NYC with old friends (I lived there for 7 years), then my BFF in Connecticut, and some errands in CT and Rhode Island (family abode). I just killed all your excitement for the trip, didnt I? 🙂

        Bc our budget is in rubles but most expenses are in dollars/euros/pounds, and the ruble has crashed, I doubt there would be a lot of work travel this year. If it does happen, first tier probabilities are Berlin and Paris, and 2nd tier are London and Brussels. I know, I know – not shabby at all. But doubt it would happen (whereas 2 months ago all of those plus more were almost definite).

  4. The travel calendar looks like a great idea, and I use the DB site all the time so will definitely add the app too. Skypicker’s a new one to me too, I sense some time wasting coming up on there!

    • Careful – Skypicker is addictive! Especially when you have a choice of a few local airports. The DB app is brilliant when you are on the move, I rely on it a lot these days.

  5. Hola – I’m always looking for good travel blogs to read – I’m glad I found yours (randomly through Vlad’s) 😉

    Had no idea about Rome2Rio – will have to check that out. Great tip. Also, I always use Deutsche Bahn’s site to figure out timetables, but had no idea they had an app! Thanks for sharing. Cheers, G.

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