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Posted by on Feb 10, 2013 in Blog, Culture, Feature, Free Resources, International Education, Study Abroad, Teach Abroad, technology and travel, Travel, Volunteer Abroad, Work Abroad |

Best Travel Websites: Top Picks from The Traveling Advisor

Travel websites are as common these days as hidden airline fees. How do you decide which ones to visit? I have selected my favorite travel website and shared them with you here. In order to land a spot in my top travel website list, I asked myself the following four questions:

  1. Does this website help me plan for my travels?
  2. Does this website challenge me to think about how or why I travel?
  3. Does this website connect me to interesting people, ideas, images, and places?
  4. Does this website appeal to me in general?

Two tips on finding your own favorite travel websites; Don’t waste time on outdated sites or websites that try to sell you something every 30 seconds. On the other hand, sometimes it is worth paying experts or professionals to help you with a particular aspect of your journey. Click away and happy travels through the web!

Best Overall Travel Website and Network: Matador NetworkMatador Network Website

What I like most about Matador Network is the excellent writing. This doesn’t come as a surprise because Matador Network offers travel journalism courses and a ton of free tips on how (not) to write about the experience and perception of travel. The featured travel essays, personal narratives, photos, and videos are refreshingly honest and categorized into a variety of topics ranging from Language and Study Abroad, Culture & Religion, Trip Planning, and many more. The Matador community network is comprised of amateur and experienced travelers from all over the world. Any member of Matador Network can blog through their website and gain exposure through the community blogs section. I recently discovered the Community Forum, which allows users to connect with travel partners, accommodation, or search the network for specific information. Navigating through Matador Network is like taking a little journey and discovering gems along the way!

Best Search Engine for Study, Internship, and Volunteer Programs: GoAbroad.com

GoAbroad.com Homepage Although there is no replacement for your local study abroad office, GoAbroad.com is a great place to research study, teach, intern, or volunteer abroad programs. GoAbroad also provides links to international insurance and logistics providers which is helpful for locating companies that offer these specialized services. The GoAbroadNetwork also has a pretty active community and is a great option for students or recent grads looking to connect with other like-minded travelers. In order help students search for the right program, GoAbroad offers a nice feature called the Online Travel Advisor. Remember to dig past the first page of program results on your searches because you may find a great program on the second, third, or tenth page! (This is exactly what I did years ago and I found the right study abroad program for me.)

Bootsnall Homepage ImageBest Travel Website for the Backpacker and Nomad: Bootsnall

Bootsnall offers wandering souls and off-beat backpackers plenty of food for thought to go along with their handy Round the World (RTW) flight tracker and indie travel guides that focus on engaging but inexpensive travel. I have to say my personal favorite thing about Bootsnall is the Indie Travel Manifesto because it challenges some of the prevalent ideas and practices of tourism and travel and provides an alternative way to think about being a traveler. A small sample of the manifesto:

  • Replacing broad expectations with nuanced realities….
  • Interactions rather than transactions
  • Local information over received information

Best Newspaper Travel Section: The New York Times

NYTimes Travel SectionMost major newspapers deliver high quality polished travel content every day. Stateside, I prefer the NY Times Travel, particularly because of The Frugal Traveler blog (confession: I think I have a travel blogger crush on Seth Kugel…see below for his best picks for travel websites!). The UK independent publisher The GuardianĀ gets a mention here because their travel section has a clean lay-out, stunning photos and video, and interesting contests from time to time. For destination descriptions and features, travel tips, and the occasional great flight, hotel, or get-away deal, newspaper travel sections are a nice option.

Best Travel Guides Online: A Three-Way Tie… WikiTravel, Spotted By Locals, and UnAnchor

In the age of the internet, my personal preference for online travel guides are those that have been crowdsourced. This model allows me to search for what I need and skip the information I don’t! Not surprisingly, WikiTravel is a solid choice in this space but sites like Spotted By Locals and UnAnchor offer complete itineraries or guides written by locals. Spotted By Locals focuses primarily on European destinations and offers the guides as a downloadable PDF or on iPhone or Android apps. UnAnchor.com offers guides for download via their website or on Amazon.com to cities all over the world and caters to the niche traveler (e.g. foodies, outdoor enthusiasts, museum junkies, etc.). Both Spotted By Locals and UnAnchor feature fabulous insider’s tips and are quite the steal for typically $3-8 per guide.

It is worth mentioning, however, that National Geographic is still among the best when it comes to showcasing stunning photographs from around the world. I also prefer their printed travel guides to many of the other big names in the business because they are packed with the necessary local information but still visually appealing.

*FYI and for full disclosure, I wrote an itinerary/guide for Unanchor.com about Lancaster, PA which can be viewed or downloaded here. More itineraries to come soon!

Best of My Travel Insights: The Traveling Advisor

I started The Traveling Advisor to be able to share insights on travel, international education opportunities, and change from over a decade of personal and professional experiences. Since you landed here on my travel website, I hope you decide to come back when you want unique perspectives on travel and change, advice on how to fund travel, or to be inspired by travel innovators. Why not get the latest articles delivered once a week to your inbox? Subscribe to the weekly update by scrolling to the top of the page and plugging in your email address. I would also love to hear your thoughts on your favorite travel websites. Leave a comment below or post a comment on The Traveling Advisor Facebook page. Follow me on Twitter @traveladvising.

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