We are well into the new year and so is our trip planning. Katja is heading off to Mexico, Tabea is going to Sri Lanka and while I enjoy the South African sun, I’m already planning a trip with my dad to Morocco afterward.

Once the destination is set the real fun of travel planning begins: how to get there and for how much? What to do and see? How to meet people on the road and how to connect with locals? For all these questions, the internet is your best bet. Mind you, options these days are pretty much endless and even for a savvy internet user, this can be daunting and can even take the fun out of the whole planning stage.

But fear not – this is where we come in! Not only is Travelettes a great starting point to make your next trip hassle-free, but I have searched and sourced the coolest sites for you to make 2017 an amazing, traveletty year.

Here are our top 10 sites to book, play, meet and experience the world.

Explorateur Travel

Explorateur Travel is the website I have been waiting for. It is a la carte holiday planning for the discerning traveler – meaning you only pay for the services you actually want and need. Need help with finding accommodation? City tips that go beyond a guide book? Want to plan a bachelorette party in Vegas or a scavenger hunt in Amsterdam? Then this is the site for you.
My favorite feature? They will even make restaurant bookings for you in advance. No more long-distance phone fees or the hassle of getting a table. And if you need recommendations to fit your budget, they can help with that too. Especially for millennials who tend to care more about local activities and homestays than fancy chain hotels, the service Explorateur Travel offers is ideal. Because just like you, they strongly believe that experiential travel and cultural exchange is key when exploring the world. All of that is reflected in their customized itineraries to suit your requirements.
Last but not least, you have complete budget control and can even make your own accommodation bookings – it doesn’t get easier and more transparent than this!

Mapiful

You want a special token to remember your trip by? Photos are so yesterday – because maps are the latest thing in travel memories. Mapiful is a unique online platform that lets you easily create and order beautiful minimalistic maps. Through an innovative art and technology concept from Sweden, memories are turned into art here.
The great thing is that you can pick any location – an entire city or an area that has meaning to you. And by city, they mean any city. While Mapiful offers some good old favorites like Rome and San Franciso, it will find you random places like my hometown Bad Hersfeld or Sutherland in South Africa, my favorite place for stargazing.
Once you have chosen your location you can customize the look of your map. Choose between different themes, add personal titles to your map and pick the size for your final poster. After that, all you have to do is order and you can hang a place close to your heart in your home!

TripStreak

TripStreak is a search and booking engine like no other. It is personalized and you decide what is most important to you when booking a flight. Filter and rank results according to the usual time, price, layovers or according to airline or alliance. Afterward, you save your travel priorities so you can easily get matched with the best trip for you every single time.
The same goes for rental cars and hotels which you can search according to amenities, hotel group, and even customer ratings. Based on your preferences TripStreak will calculate your TripScore – the higher the score, the more perfect the flight, hotel or rental car for you personally.
TripStreak is especially handy if you are an avid mile collector. You can sync your reward programs with your TripStreak account which makes it easy to keep track of miles and points. And your preferred programs will rank higher in your search results!
Booking through TripStreak is easy and there are no booking fees involved. Another great plus for miles collectors – bookings act as direct bookings, meaning you get the same miles and points as if booking through the airline or hotel directly.
Another big plus? TripStreak is an ad-free site – hurrah for no clutter!

Joey

When Jennifer, a Joey team member, traveled to Taiwan she was having a hard time getting off the beaten path. Until she went to get her hair cut at a local salon by a guy named Joey. Joey told her all about his life in Taiwan and his favorite things to do in the area. He became her gateway to this part of the country and with that, the idea of Joey was born.
While most travelers will say that interaction with locals is a top priority for them, the reality is often not that easy. Where do you actually meet those locals, and how do you get in touch with them?
“Don’t just visit. Connect” – That is where Joey comes in as a platform which connects travelers with locals. For now, you can have a coffee or a drink with a local, but soon Joey will offer additional ways to connect with a local before, during, and after your trip. Like having a friend who is showing you around their hometown!
Locals on the site are carefully vetted and not only can you choose a location, you can also read up about the interests of a potential host beforehand. What all of them have in common is that they are not only passionate about meeting people from around the world, but also sharing insights about their own backyard.

Tinggly

 

One of my favorite ways to give and receive gifts are not getting an actual item, but an experience. That can be something as simple as a home cooked meal with a friend or something crazy like bungee jumping (something I actually got my cousin and her hubby for their wedding).
I think the memories you create doing exciting things are priceless and as a gift so much more practical – especially for travelers with limited space in their luggage.
Tinggly is a website which offers exactly that – curated experiences to give as gifts in over 100 countries. The ideal gift for people who dream about travel and who have a few bucket list items to tick off.
Aqua Safari in Bora Bora, rockclimbing in Ireland, snowshoeing in Norway and so much more is on offer. You set the amount you want to spend by choosing from three collections and the receiver can choose an experience from the collection you get them. Valid for 2 years, they get to choose exactly the experience they want, when they want it and where they want it.
Another great extra – you either get to print out your gift voucher or send it in an actual pretty gift box!

Liligo

Going somewhere and getting around is usually the biggest objective for any trip planning and usually the most expensive part. Liligo is an allrounder when it comes to finding the cheapest transport option. Why pay more, when you could pay less?!
As they don’t sell any tickets themselves, Liligo really is an incredible objective and transparent way to find the best mode of transport for you.
You can compare flights, buses and even train tickets in one simple search to find the best option, as well as hotels and rental cars. Their only goal is to make sure that you find a great deal.
A number of useful travel tools are also in place to help make planning your trip a breeze. Especially handy is the option to set up a fare alert if you already know when you want to go where and are just waiting for the best deal.
If you still need inspiration according to your budget check out the “Where to Go” price map with destination ideas based on what you can spend or browse the travel magazine and news. Great inspiration to book a flight or an entire holiday with the click of a mouse!

The Inner Circle

Let’s be honest, traveling is all about making connections. And sometimes these connections are as much about getting to know locals as they are about finding a future travel partner or love interest.
Of course, the best place for a traveler to find like-minded souls is on the road, but to help chance and cupid along, you now have the Inner Circle.
Far more than a regular dating website or a swiping app, the Inner Circle puts personal interaction back into online dating.
One of their most genius features for Travelettes looking for love or a holiday fling is their travel section. Here you can see who is traveling to your city or who is going to a destination you might be heading soon as well.
Meet someone for a drink in Bali, an excursion in Cuba or to forge future travel and life plans over a bowl of pho in Vietnam. And if you can’t find someone interesting in their featured destinations you can add your own upcoming trips as well. Who knows? Your prince charming might just be heading the same way.

Descape


At first glance, working and holidays don’t really go hand in hand. But what about getting a closer glimpse at that dream job you always had in the back of your mind?!
The Berlin startup Descape offers short trips into such dream jobs. Whether you want to learn how to become a chocolatier (and who doesn’t want to be surrounded by chocolate all day long?!), a gin distiller or gain first-hand experience with a real wildlife ranger in Africa, you can find your dream trip and dream job here.
Most trips on offer are in Germany, but their international section is rapidly expanding and already spanning the globe from Peru to Mongolia. Descapes range from one-day activities to full on holidays.
Whether you are still searching for your dream job, eyeing a career change or just want to do something completely different during your next travel, Descape might just have the perfect escape from your everyday life for you.

Travel Diaries

When you’re travelling it’s easy to get lost in the moment, but what if you want to actually create something tangible out of your experiences that will keep those memories alive forever? Photos are not always enough, and blogging can be a big commitment. Travel journalist Veerle Witte came up with the idea for Travel Diaries after she searched for journal making/printing services online to document a backpacking trip across South America – but found only either blogging sites with limited print options or photo-book software with limited text options. She decided to combine the two into an single online app, and Travel Diaries was born. Users can easily design and publish a travel blog to share with friends and family by choosing from the preset fonts and layouts (making a combination of one’s own is possible if desired) and entering text, photos and maps; this can then be ordered as a beautiful printed book if you choose. The interface, which looks like the real finished book version on your screen, is intuitive to use and elegantly designed, and it’s a great way to keep track of your travels as you go and keep your photos and memories stored safely in the cloud. You can also read the Travelettes detailed review of Travel Diaries here for a more in-depth description of the app and its features.

Glamping Hub

I make no secret of the fact that I am not a camping girl, but rather one for glamping. I think there is nothing better than the mix of being comfortably surrounded by nature, of falling asleep to the sound of crickets and having a soft bed while you do it.
Glamping Hub brings the best of all glamping anywhere in the world together in one smart booking site. With over 5,000 accommodation options in 100 countries, there is something for every glamping Travelette. Their offer of unique outdoor accommodation ranges from tree houses to yurts and from campervans to tipis.
What all of them have in common is that they take the ‘roughing it’ out of the camping experience – the perfect mix between adventure and comfort.
And for those traveling with a pet, they even have a special section of pet-friendly glamping accommodations. Beautiful locations for humans and animal friends to sleep in style!

 

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Can you imagine planning, researching or booking a trip without the internet? We can't either - and these ten travel websites are in our bookmarks!

This post was created in collaboration with the featured websites.