Five great travel-planning sites

2014-01-16 16:15
Does the prospect of travelling excite you, but the thought of all the planning-related admin leave you cold? We totally get it!

Having to plan a dream holiday in minute detail when you can’t even shop for a week’s groceries successfully can be a bit of a buzz killer… and may even leave you resenting the very trip you were looking forward to for so long.  

Well, with the wealth of travel resources brought to you by the internet, the good news is that planning a trip has never been easier!  

Here are five websites that are sure to ease the pain of planning:

Visa Mapper

If you want to avoid the whole visa application hell at all costs, you may want to check which countries will let you in on a passport alone, or will at least provide a visa on arrival. This site makes it super easy!  

How it works: All you have to do is select your country of citizenship on a drop-down menu and voila – a colour-coded world map, showing which countries require a visa and which don't, pops up.

Thus, if you’re the proud owner of a good old green SA passport, you will find that almost the whole of South America will welcome you with open arms (awesome!), so will our neighbouring SADC countries, as well as Indonesia, Thailand and Israel, among others.    


Now that you’ve chosen a destination, it’s time to book flights. Travelstart is an excellent flight search resource for South African travellers, as all prices are listed in Rands and include all taxes and fares.  

How it works: Once you’ve entered your departure and arrival cities, as well as proposed travel dates, it will present you with a list of flights including the following details: airline, price, departure and arrival times, stops, duration and class.

You can toggle the list according to what you deem the most important factor – if it’s the cheapest price you’re after, click on the price column and it will arrange it appropriately. If you prefer a shorter flight, click on the duration column and it will do the same.    

Pick whatever suits you best, fill in your details, select your payment method (credit card, EFT, cash or cheque card) and your seat is booked! Easy as that.  


Booking accommodation is probably one of the most stressful parts of preparing for your holiday – hotels are expensive and backpackers could be grimy. Well, this awesome site gives you another option – renting a space from ordinary people like yourself.  

Taking the form of a type of marketplace for travelers to list and book unique worldwide private properties, from a spare room in your home to city apartments and even country villas, the site covers 34 000 cities in 192 countries.  

How it works: All you have to do is enter your city of choice into the search bar, select the dates you plan to be there and a myriad of options will pop up. From here you can narrow your search down according to price and whether you’re looking for an entire place to yourself, a private or a shared room.  

If something tickles your fancy, click on the image and a longer description will pop up, as well as guest reviews. Apart from the fact that you’re bound to end up paying far less than you would in a hotel and have a more comfy stay than you would in a hostel, you also get to experience the way locals live.  

All in all, a brilliant site for travel planning.  


So, you have your flight tickets and accommodation is sorted, but now you have to decide what exactly you will be doing during your stay.

Plnnr helps you set up a free personalised ready-to-use itinerary in split seconds. Unfortunately it only covers a couple of major cities around the globe currently, but it’s set to grow.

How it works: Select your destination, amount of days you will be staying in the city, a theme (e.g. with kids, outdoors, best of or culture), intensity (light, easygoing, moderate, vigorous or extreme) and finally, the level of luxury you’re looking for (one to five stars).  

Once you’ve refined the profile of your trip, Plnnr will deliver an itinerary within seconds, complete with a map and information about each of the sights you will be visiting.  Of course, the fantastic thing is that you needn’t stick to it word for word, but have room to improvise.  


Having an inkling of what the weather will be like in your destination of choice prior to travel is always a good idea – it really simplifies the whole packing dilemma. 

As the name suggests, AccuWeather provides travellers with exceptionally accurate forecasts, weather-related news and warnings.

How it works: 
Enter your destination of choice in the search bar and you will be directed to a page featuring the current weather conditions. From here you can choose to view the weekend weather, as well as an extended forecast and an expected overview for the month. 

UK Data Explorer

If you're heading to Europe and don't speak any other language apart from English, this site will give you a bit of a boost, allowing you to translate a few of the words you think you're most likely to use during your trip. 

How it works: Punch in a word, and watch as it reappears across the European map, perfectly translated into each country's language. Now, you can make a note of the word and maybe check up on the pronunciation (Google Translate is pretty good with this).  

Do you have any travel websites you love to use? Tell us in the comment section below or send us your thoughts to 

Read more on:    travel  |  travel tips  |  travel international

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