Before I disappear into the Swiss alps I thought I’d share some of the websites I’ve used religiously on my travels. For those who haven’t been keeping up, I’ve been on the windy road since September 20th, 05. Because I’m essentially a computer nerd, the internet has remained a nearly vital part of my experience here. Communication and booking flights are one thing I’ve used the net for, but putting up pictures and researching cities and looking at maps is another big need I have which only my friend the internet can help me with. So to wrap this up, I’ve thrown down my top 10 or so.
Planes:Whichbudget.com | This spot keeps track of all the routes that budget airlines run. Search is easy. Most are through Ryanair or Easyjet, but there are some unexpected carriers in Scandinavia and between cities like Budapest and Amsterdam.
Bahn.de | Becaus the Germans like lists so much, they’ve put it upon themselves to consolidate all the train schedules in all of Europe on their country’s rail website. If you are travelling from Rome to Geneva your train schedule will be here. (French, German and English versions)
Hostelworld.com | I’ve booked all of my hostels through this website (over 15). To book you pay 10% of the cost of your stay. Because of this I would recommend booking only a couple nights even if you plan to stay a week so your percentage isn’t 20 euros, only 2. You can always extend your stay once you’re there. There are some hostels in the world who have not registered on this site, they are most likely on hihostels.com.
Europe’s Famous Hostels | If you’re travelling in Big cities along the typical backpacker’s route: Paris, Amsterdam, Berlin, Munich etc… this site will tell you which hostels have really stellar qualities. They are all listed on Hostelworld.com, so you can find them there. Just sort your results by ratings and they will always have a 98% or higher rating from the thousands of backpackers who shuffle through them each year.
Hospitalityclub.org | 110,000 members all over the world who let you stay on their spare beds. Just don’t feed the dog any chocolate and don’t make too much noise coming in.
Couchsurfing.com | 51,000 members (though a more engaged community) who are in the same boat as the hospitalityclub folks. Search is more thorough and there’s a more advanced vouching system.
Publishing your Adventures
Having this site to post pictures, news, and to stay in touch with people I’ve met along the way has been invaluable. Though I pay to have this domain and for the bandwidth, it’s very easy to get a very similar system up and running for free where you can put up pictures and write about getting mugged.
Blogger.com | This is the most popular and easy to use blogging system which was bought by google a while ago. It’s very easy to use and your website will look like mytravels.blogspot.com.
Travelpod.com | This site lets you actually input your locations so that your trip can be traced back by date on their map. You can write entries, upload a limited number of pictures, and send mass emails to your friends as you update hastily from internet cafes. Works well, and it’s very popular.
Flickr.com – Sharing Images | If you have a digital camera and you’d like to share pictures, this is the best. If you only put up about 30 a month you can use it for free, but if you upload more than 20 MB a month then it’s very worth it to buy a yearlong pro account for $30. The way I have used Flickr is like this: I install a small uploading program that flickr provides on a computer that I have dumped my latest photos on, and I can upload, tag, and name each photo with that software. It has the power to upload thousands at a time, but I upload only in batches of about 300. Flickr beats webshots or snapfish or Kodak Gallery or anything you could ever mention because of how easy it is to use. You don’t need to login to see your friends photos, and anyone can download the original images (if the original post has given the public permission). Even without the pro account it’s extremely powerful.