I remember backpacking in South East Asia almost 10 years ago and how much more challenging it was. Nowadays, it couldn't be easier.
First of all, back then wifi and a reliable internet connection was pretty much non-existent, so booking anything online was almost impossible. Sure, you could go find an internet cafe, but it just wasn't as convenient. On this trip so far, we've had access to wifi almost everywhere. I'm not talking about big cities either. Some of the smallest towns had pretty decent connections. Plus, if the hostel or hotel didn't have it, surely a cafe or a convenience store nearby did.
Because of this, getting directions, booking accommodation and flights was basically as easy as a few clicks or taps from your smartphone apps. That being said, having wifi doesn't mean it's very good. Some places had wifi that was worse than dial-up (which made blogging really frustrating especially when it takes 30 minutes to upload 5 pictures), BUT it was available.
Having a smartphone is very helpful especially with all the apps available nowadays. Here are some of our favourite apps and websites that we've been using on our travels.
We've probably used this site/app the most when it comes to finding accommodation. It seems like most if not all hostels, homestays and apartments available are listed on this site. You can filter by price and reviews which have been the most important for us. The nice thing with booking.com is you can reserve an accommodation without your credit card. You have the option to pay later (at check-in) and you can cancel free of charge by an assigned date. Also, if you become a genius member like us (occurs after 10 bookings) you receive an additional 10% off some accommodations. Other perks of being a genius member include an early check-in, late check-out and a welcome drink. :)
This is another favourite and we've used it almost as much as booking.com. I don't like that they charge your credit card the moment you book and a lot of rentals come with bogus cleaning fees. Additionally, we have had a few hosts cancel our reservation very close to our arrival date. It is still a worthy consideration if your looking to either rent a shared room, private room or an entire home.
This one is similar to Booking.com and is considered their sister site. The Priceline Group owns both booking.com and agoda.com. We found Agoda to be priced slightly better in Asia (on a few occasions) because the Asian market seems to be their primary focus. Additionally, unlike booking.com, agoda will charge your credit card either immediately or by an assigned date. You don't have the option to pay cash on arrival.
We don't find the best deals here. We use expedia for travel reward points on my visa when their prices are comparable to other competitors.
Hotel Wifi Test
You can find hotels around the world with the fastest wifi. Pretty sweet!
Another good site that's useful for comparing accommodation prices. It groups everything together from Booking.com, Air BNB, Roomorama, etc.
I just have to mention Couchsurfing here because as much as we wanted to love it and use it, we haven't had any luck. People either don't answer or their place is not available OR they don't seem to like to host couples.
This is one of the best websites for looking for cheap flights. We usually check the price here and then compare it directly with the Airline's website.
Another excellent search engine for finding the cheapest flights!
We used this more in the beginning to figure out the best and cheapest flight from one city to another. It has a world map and prices scattered all over so you can basically see the cheapest flight available on a specific day. The only bad thing is that you can't book flights through here.
Great for figuring out how to get anywhere. You can enter any destination and it will instantly display flight, train, bus, ferry and driving options with estimated travel times and fares.
This is a good website for travelling in South America. We've used this in Brazil so far. It's good for flights, accommodation, etc. The site is entirely in Portuguese so make sure you right click and use google translate to English.
Try using any of the above mentioned websites (apps available) for narrowing it down. We found it cheaper to book directly with the airline companies on most occasions.
In Europe, we used Ryanair, Easyjet, Wizzair, Pegasus Airlines.
In Asia, we mainly used Air Asia, JetStar and sometimes Tiger Air.
In South America so far, we've used Tam Airlines, GOL Airlines, Azul.
Our favourite airline so far has been Etihad! If you ever have a chance to fly with them, do it! Everything about it is amazing including the food. We felt like we were on spaceship!
Gotta love Uber. We've used it anywhere it's available and it's pretty much always cheaper than a taxi. Loved using it in Bali. Every ride cost us $1-5.
Basically like UberX in Asia.
We travelled mainly by bus and the Greyhound was awesome. It was really comfortable, with wifi, air conditioning. If you book online they typically offer discounts.
Opal Travel App
This was a very useful for getting around in New South Wales. It has bus, ferry and train information. It gives you a fare estimate as well.
This is the BEST app ever! I wish we discovered it earlier especially when we were in Iceland and had no wifi in the rental car. It offers offline maps of the world. Once you download the map (with an internet connection) you can get directions and routes without wifi. We LOVE it!
We've used this app quite a bit as well.
Other Useful Apps for Travelling
We mainly use this for checking traveller reviews.
World Wide Opportunities on Organic Farms (WWOOF)
Great if you want to volunteer on organic farms. Haven't had a chance to use it yet, but we've heard great things from people we've met.
The best and cheapest travel/medical insurance. You have the option to purchase while already travelling abroad. This option is rarely offered by many travel insurance companies.
It's basically like Craigslist where you can find the latest ads for apartments, rooms, jobs, etc.
Most used for keeping in touch with family and friends.
Currency converter which is current and refreshes every minute- very useful!
I think we've used this the most in Brazil. No one speaks English here.
For finding out the names of all the awesome tunes we've heard along the way. :)