THESE DAYS YOU CAN TRAVEL without leaving your armchair. We explored how in posts like Paris 26GigaPixels: A Virtual Tour, Google Tourism: Is Nothing Sacred Anymore?, and Virtual Travel: Nothing Like the Real Thing.
When you want to do it right, though, the Internet’s also money to plan and research. Who needs a travel agent nowadays? Especially when you’ve got websites like these at your fingertips.
The Internet age is the age of the travel ninja.
Finding the Cheapest Flight
Should you buy the plane ticket now? Or wait? Microsoft’s Farecast has great information on most of the major American routes, and for Europe,Vueling’s Price Calendar might save you some euros.
For students and anyone under 26, StudentUniverse has some of the lowest prices around and a great flexible planner. And as fallbacks, standards like Kayak, SideStep, and EuroCheapo trawl the different airlines to make sure you’ve found the lowest price out there.
U.S. travelers, don’t forget to use this airline baggage fee chart to take into account charges not reflected in the cost of the ticket.
Alternatively, use SeatGuru — choose the airline on the left and then click the “Baggage” tab.
Once you’ve got your confirmations, plug them all into your profile at Tripit for an easy way to keep track.
Finding the Best Flight
It’s not always about the ticket price, especially on long hauls. Enter sites like SeatGuru, which help you find the seats with the most legroom and snazziest personal entertainment system.
Recently launched HasWifi will also let you know if you can expect Web access en route (they only cover 7 airlines so far, but give them time.)
Matador has info on The World’s 10 Most Technologically Advanced Airport Terminals and The World’s Worst Airports. And for unexpected layovers, there’s the classic Sleeping in Airports, as well as our Budget Traveler’s Guide to Sleeping In Airports.
Once you’ve landed, you’ll need to know how to get around. Use ToAndFromTheAirport.com to find your preferred method of getting into the city, and back to the airport when it’s time to go.
Or, make use of World Taxi Meter to find out how much your taxi will cost anywhere in the world.
Traveling overland? There are ways to do it for free or for a little gas money.
PickUpPal.com matches up drivers and passengers. Don’t overlook online classifieds like Craigslist.org (worldwide), Kijiji.ca (Canada), Gumtree.com.au (Australia), and Gumtree.co.nz (New Zealand). Go to “Rideshare” under the “Community” section.
HitchWiki is a guide for hitchhikers, giving country-specific information about this age-old practice. It’s a great resource for travelers new to hitching, with safety tips and other info to help make the experience smoother.
Tim Patterson has his own tips in The Hitchhiker’s Guide To Hitchhiking.
Renting a Car
You can find some pretty sweet deals using VroomVroomVroom.com, plus there are no extra fees to book through them.
Don’t get busted for lead foot. Find speed traps at Trapster. And when it’s time to fill the tank — which you should definitely do before you return it — check out GasBuddy to locate the cheapest fuel in the area.
We have quite a few road trips mapped out on our Road Trips Focus Page. For American drivers looking for some route inspiration, myscenicdrives also has some suggestions.
If you’re going to be cycling in Europe, download the free European Cycling Lexicon (pdf) for bike parts and phrase translations in 22 languages.
And make sure to read up on 8 Steps for Successful Self-Supported Bicycle Tours before you go.
If you’re planning any train travel, the ultimate online resource is The Man in Seat 61. That’s all there is to it.