When you first decide to go travelling it can feel so overwhelming - there is so much information out there (and a lot of it is contradictory). Never fear; I am here to help! Here are my five essential resources that have helped me to navigate the occasionally murky waters of adventuring!
I know it can seem a bit obvious but Lonely Planet has 40 years of experience in world travel and it is still the best place to start when you’ve never been to a particular city or country. It’s always my first point of call when I decide to go on a trip. You can use their website or you can purchase their guide books (or a mix of the two). I do love buying their travel books - but that's because I love to own books - I don't think they are mandatory, especially if you are looking to save money. Their website has basic details (currency, times to travel, transport options) for most cities in most countries as well as tons of useful articles.
I love Trip Advisor for finding hotels and restaurants. It’s peer reviewed so it’s excellent for determining what places are worth your time;it even includes a map feature to help you find places based on location. I particularly like their app - as well as letting you search and save hotels and restaurants it also has city guides. These city guides are available on and offline - meaning that if you've downloaded them you can access them without wifi or data being on (essential for keeping your phone bill manageable overseas). I love using the city guides as a map (no need to carry around giant bulky maps!) and to find good places to eat on the go (vital if you're an annoying foodie like yours truly).
Google Maps has been an absolute saviour on our trips - particularly for working out the easiest way to get from the train station or airport to our hotel. Once you key in your location and destination it gives you options for walking, biking, driving and public transport. It even gives you the price of an Uber - though as of yet I haven't used Uber whilst on holiday (I'm a huge fan though so I definitely will next time).
My favourite feature is the public transport option - it’s hard to work out public transport in cities you aren’t familiar with (particularly when you don't speak the language) and Google Maps makes it really simple. It saved us a ton of money on taxis and helped make us feel instantly more comfortable in a new city. I even use this feature in my home town when I'm going somewhere I haven't been before.
Folder (& a photocopier)
Bear with me on this one - I absolutely recommend having paper copies of all of your flights, trains and hotel bookings with you when you travel. I know that you have everything saved to your phone (and if you have Gmail it will be on your calendar as well) but what happens if you lose your phone? What happens if you were counting on WiFi to access a ticket and there is none?
Having paper copies seems cumbersome and old fashioned but it ensures you have a back up option of everything in case something happens. Whether you’re travelling for a week or a month you want as little stress as possible and this is one way to guarantee this.
Travel insurance is 100% mandatory. No matter where you're going or how long you're going for you will want the certainty of knowing that if you lose your baggage, have your money stolen or get sick that you have something in place to help you. I've been lucky and haven't had to use travel insurance (yet!) but that hasn't made me any less grateful to have it.