The key ratings information and country profiles of the five top rating European ountries in the Top 100 book. We call them the 'Big Five' - Spain, France, Germany, the United Kingdom and Italy. Updated for 2020.
Matthew Kepnes is an American blogger and author who specializes in advice on how to travel cheaply. He is one of the world’s most successful travel bloggers, and his book ‘How to Travel the World on $50 a Day’ was a New York Times bestseller. He has also published a number of travel guides to specific locations.
Matt travels constantly and has built a great business. His advice is sound and he writes well. We love his stuff – he has been an inspiration to us. His free newsletter is excellent.
We love trains, and we love this website. It’s run by Mark Smith, an Englishman and ex railway man obsessed with trains. He’d have to be, to run what is easily the world’s best train travel website. His site has everything you need to know about train travel in every country – even down to timetables and good booking sites. We have learnt much from this excellent website, and we use it a lot.
This excellent website and blog was started by Seattle native Ben Schlappig and is one of the most read travel blogs in the world. He now has a number of contributors, who between them manage to get put out a travel newsletter every day. And it really is news – It covers just about all travel happenings, such as new airline routes and frequent flyer and credit card deals. it’s very big on that sort of thing – he is obsessed with frequent flyers points and claims to travel everywhere for free.
Good free newsletter, with some great blogs and advice. Very extensive website. It’s good to just scan the headlines and pick out anything that looks interesting.
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Info on destinations
You can just google a country or city. But here's a few really informative and trustworthy places to find good travel info. Our four favorites:
You can’t go past Wikipedia for general information about anywhere. It’s totally impartial, with ionformation provided by anyone who wants to post it and curated by a horde of willing volunteers. Too many sites are just promo pieces, paid for by the local tourist bureau. It’s not a travel site, but Wikipedia will give you the unadorned info about any location on earth. Pay them the ten bucks a month to keep them in operation – the place is a global treasure.
A Wikipedia style site that grew out of Wikitravel, founded in 2003. Now part of the Wikipedia Foundation. Built in the same way as Wikipedia, and optimized for information for the traveler. Excellent and impartial information.
TripAdvisor has become the world’s largest travel site. Nearly 10 million people visit it every day. It has over 300 million members around the wold (it costs nothing to join), and has published over 500 million users reviews of hotels, restaurants, tours, attractions and anything to do with travel. Founded in 2000, it was one of the Internet’s first exponents of user-generated content. It has grown into a monster and is now a successful public company. It has moved way beyend reviews and now partners with all sorts of other companies to provide a wide range of travel booking services.
But it has stayed true to its roots. We love it, and we are in the top 3% of global reviewers. We use it lots, especially to check out restaurant and hotel ratings. There is no substitute for unadorned user reviews.
The best maps, with all sorts of overlays as well to help you locate hotels, restaurants and any type of business (like laundromats etc.) Contains reviews, but not nearly as extensive as TripAdvisor. We use it all the time. We often have TripAdvisor open on one screen and Google Maps on another.
In the Internet era Lonely Planet has managed to retain its edge. It is still the world’s largest publisher of travel guide books, and has expanded to online guides and advice. It was started in Melbourne, Australia in the 1970s by Tony and Maureen Wheeler just as the overland hippie trail was taking off, and now covers everywhere for everyone. Good, comprehensive impartial advice. Owned by US conglomerate NC2 Media.
Handy hints and stuff
Here are some great shortcuts and travel hacks to make it all so much easier.
Hotel info and bookings
There are many hotel booking websites. They are very competitive. Despite what they say, none of them does everything, and it’s worth using a few of them. And very often it’s best to book direct with the hotel – it can be easier and cheaper.
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Other accomm info and bookings
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Plane info and flight bookings
Again, there are lots of services and not all of them cover all airlines. And it can depend on where you live.