The Magic List

List of websites I rely on while travelling, because many of you asked! Still speaking about travel on a budget.

Picking the destination

There are two reasons why we choose where to go: some places are just appealing and some other just happen to ‘come to us’ (special opportunities, offers or invitations, usually last minute). In case you have a settled full time job with regular days off, you probably get obsessed with a few places you’d like to visit. Well, let me tell you that random opportunities often hold some unexpected treasures. Think very well before discarding an offer.

  • Skyscanner is always the first website I check. It’s mega flexible: you can set a departure airport, city, or even an entire Country, and set “everywhere” as a destination; the website will show you where is cheaper to go. Awesome, right? You can also set ‘whole month’ instead of a specific date and see in which day is cheaper to travel. The problem with skyscanner is that it doesn’t always connect different routes, for example for my next journey from Fairbanks (AK, USA) to Calgary (AB, Canada) I had to try one by one the possible stopovers to figure out that Seattle was the best. Just play with it in the free time.
  • Fly4Free this is not really my favourite but every now and then I like to check it. It collects the best offers for flights and bus routes, but it’s not that user friendly because it has just a few options as filters for your research. Not only that: these offers are usually time-limited so I’ve subscribed to the newsletter to get the best deals, but I had to take it off because it was really cloggin up my inbox. They also have fb groups for different Countries.
  • Rome2rio is another of my favourites, very very useful. It’s very complex and what this people manage to create is really remarkable. Set departure and arrival, without the need to specify any date, and it will show you basically all the options you can get: flight, bus, trains, carpooling, car, city trasportation, a mix of all the above. It shows different companies and price ranges. It also has an app and that’s something you don’t want to miss if you travel on a budget.
  • Hitchwiki — as a hitchhiker I always get super excited about this one. It has all the info you need divided for Countries, with real anecdotes and useful hints to hitchhike safely everywhere you want. Rules can be really different from a Country to another, even between neighbors!

There are many cheap bus companies and every country has its railway deals, but you should be able to get all the websites links through Rome2rio. In case, for any additional info you may need, on Couchsurfing and even facebook there are hundreds of groups for all kinds of topics and travels, you can join those and ask questions. Couchsurfers are very fast to answer.

Staying overnight

Touristic attractions are not for me, I’m more interested in having a unique experience; I also like to start and finish the day early, instead of going parties at night and oversleep in the morning. For these reason my first option is always volunteering in exchange of food and board.

  • Helpstay— I started travelling with this one. Select the country you’d like to visit, the kind of work you’d like to do and check the list of hosts. Everyone has different conditions in terms of working hours, accomodation, meals and so on. Keep in mind that the more you get involved in their activity the better in terms of quality of the experience, try not to get stuck in the thought ‘I work not more that the requested hours ‘cause I’m really here to mind my own touristic business’. Be open and you’ll gain a lot. Since there is no contract, is all about trust and openness between people, and many hosts will be happy to show you around so you’ll get plenty of touristic stuff as well. Similar websites are workaway, helpx, and wwoofinternational. They all ask for a fee, around 20–30 € for a year.
  • Couchsurfing— Who doesn’t know this one? As I wrote above, being involved in this community can help you in any situation related to your travels. Just join a group and ask your questions. The app has also the so called ‘hangout’ option, where you see if there are couchsurfers near you, chat with them and decide to meet them if you like.
  • Hostelworld and AirB&B just in case you don’t find anything on couchsurfing. There are often very good prices here. Personally I like to check these websites when I don’t feel social enough to couchsurf around and I prefere a bit of privacy. Hint: always google for coupons when you book something, just type the name of the website with key words such as ‘coupon’ ‘offer’ or ‘discount’.

One thing that helped me to start travelling is Erasmus +: the European Union allocates funds for international projects of different kinds. In 2016 I’ve done my European Voluntary Service in Romania, a Partnership Building Activity in Armenia and a Training Course about video making in Greece. I didn’t pay for those travels and they were all very instructive, but I won’t repeat the experience, especially after Greece: I felt kind of trapped and surrounded by party people, which made me really hostile. I’d still strongly suggest these kind of experiences: they create a sort of bridge, you’ll see how your life changes before and after.

Your act of kindness: did you enjoy the reading? Hit the little heart below, or buy me a coffee!

Like what you read? Give Margherita Pletti a round of applause.

From a quick cheer to a standing ovation, clap to show how much you enjoyed this story.