Digital Wanderlust. Using the Internet to travel the world on a budget.

One of the things I am passionate about is travel and I try to travel overseas at least once a year to experience new cultures, absorb new visual influences and break out of the comfort zone we so easily slip into. When I talk to people back home about travelling one of the common things that crops up is that they would love to travel more but say they can’t afford it or think it will cost them lots of money. I try to encourage them by saying that they don’t need that much money these days to get away and it is quite easy to have an amazing trip on a very small budget by using travel services online as opposed to going through agents. 

These days the internet is changing the face of travel and is making it easier and easier to travel on a budget. Next week I am travelling to Japan for 3 weeks to attend Tokyo Design Week, do some travel and to work from some coworking spaces over there. As I had a bit of break between projects I only decided last week to book it and within an hour I was able to jump online and get some great deals on flights, accomodation, rail passes and travel insurance. 

I would love more people to travel and to have the opportunity to broaden their horizons and experience the world so I thought I would share some of the great links that I have found online that make it easy to travel on a budget and satisfy your wanderlust. 

Booking Flights:

Travel agents are obsolete! I book all my flights online now which give me full control over the date and iteneiry and I can get some super cheap deals on flights. Recently I have come across some great sites that let you search and find the best deals for flights online: 

Adioso - Great Australian startup making it easier to find cheap flights anywhere. They let you type in what every you want in natural language (e.g ‘find a flight somewhere warm in January for 3 weeks’) and they find the best flights for that search. You can also subscribe by email to your search so if a special deal crops up you can jump on and book it in a flash. http://adioso.com

Flight Fox - Flight Fox is a site that lets Crowdsource the cheapest flights with real experts sourcing you the cheapest flights for your itinerary. You set out where you want to go and name a prize amount and people around the world compete to find you the cheapest and best flights. http://flightfox.com

Kayak - My favourite site for searching for flights (especially domestic flights) across many airlines is Kayak. Their super easy to use interface lets you search +/-3 days on any date to find the cheapest days to fly. It also has a great iPhone and iPad app that I use alot when travelling to book my flights on the go. http://www.kayak.com

Make sure you signup for frequent flyer programs with all the airlines you travel with. I often get enough points from my international travel to get free domestic flights back in Australia so it is worth registering for! 

Accommodation:

I HATE staying in hotels. Personally I think they are a waste of money and all you end up with is sterile, boring matchbox rooms where there is little opportunity to meet people which for me is the best part of travelling. 

For accommodation on a budget I normally stay in Hostels which I find and book using Hostel World. If you sort by review you can find great hostels that are clean, friendly and you have the opportunity to meet and travel with lots of interesting people from around the world.

Here are my favourite site for booking cheap accommodation:

Couchsurfing - Couchsurfing is an an amazing community of travellers around the world that let you crash on their couches or spare rooms for free. I have couchsurfed in Tokyo Japan, Quito Ecuador as well as hosting couchsurfers at our place in Melbourne. Its a great way to get a local perspective on a place and I have made some great friends around the world through it. As long as you you stay and host people that have good references it is generally a positive and safe experience and is a great way to travel on a budget.

Hostel World - Best site in my opinion for searching and booking hostels. All the hostels on there have reviews by people that have stayed there so you can be sure you know what you are getting when you book it. http://www.hostelworld.com

AirBNB - For those who want something a little more up market than a hostel, want some more privacy or want a more local experience you can’t go past AirBNB which lets you rent private rooms, vacation rentals and apartments in cities all around the world. https://www.airbnb.com

Other Awesome Travel Links

Travel insurance Direct - I book all my travel insurance online with TID and it works out much cheaper than getting travel insurance through an agent. http://www.travelinsurancedirect.com.au

TripIt - TripIt is a great website and iPhone app that automatically manages all your iteneraries and accomodation and lets you sync them to your calendar. All you do is forward it your booking confirmation emails and it auto-magically gets all the date, info and times and puts them in your calendars! its like a personal secretary! https://www.tripit.com

Thorntree - Not sure of the best places to visit in a country? Looking for somewhere off the beaten track? Not sure what to pack? Then the lonely planet Thorn Tree forums have the answers. Great community of travellers that will answer your travel questions and help recommend places to go that you might not have thought of. http://www.lonelyplanet.com/thorntree

Are there any awesome travel services online that I might have missed? let me know as I would love to find out about them