Websites We Use for Planning our Trips
Information and Planning
What more can we say. We love this site. It is great for planning your trip, gathering your resources and keeping up to date on the road. The destination information is extensive. They have great stories on emerging hotspots, top 10’s and activity specific locations. We use the online destination information to investigate where we might go in an area. You can then go to the shop and find the relevant guidebook. They normally have the first two chapters downloadable for free. This means you can get an overview of the highlights and possible itineraries before you commit to buying the book.. You can also mix and match chapters of different books to get all the information you need for a multi-destination trip without having to pay for or lug around several books.
On the road, especially in more remote destinations or where weather or political decisions are changing rapidly, we use the online forum Thorntree to post queries to other travellers and updates on the situation on the ground. The guides are so much more than the Shoestring guides of old. Products on offer are useful to all types of traveller from shoe stringers right through to those who like to partake of 5-star establishments. The range of regions, country and city guides is the most comprehensive of all the guidebook countries and they have a large range of activity-specific books as well – e.g cycling, hiking and diving in specific regions. We also have a number of their coffee table books that are just great to read and check out the pictures. Yes, we have tried other guides but we keep going back to LP. 5/5
In all countries that have hostels or backpackers we use Hostelword almost exclusively. They have a huge range of accommodation, reviews are extensive and booking is easy. It’s worth paying the Gold membership if you are moving around and booking frequently. It only takes 6 bookings to come out on top for that one. They don’t only have backpackers on the site and you can find bed and breakfasts, boutique styles accommodation and more.
Gzillions of rooms worldwide and usually have some of the best prices. The website is easy to use and fairly self-explanatory.
We used these guys quite a bit on our cycling tour across Australia. We’ve never been disappointed. Great cancellation policies allow you to change your plans if needed, often just a day or two before your arrival.
Our most recent short break to Phu Quoc in Vietnam was booked through Airbnb. We definitely weren’t disappointed and will be using this site extensively on our next cycling trip through Eastern Europe
NB: Join Airbnb through THIS LINK and receive around $25 USD off your first booking. (And help us save costs on our cycling adventures 🙂
We very rarely pay full price for plane tickets. Only when there is no competition on local routes and no online booking do we pay the retail price and then we’ll normally look for an alternative form of transport. In the past, we have normally used AirAsia when travelling in and around Asia and then FareCompare elsewhere. Recently, however, I kept coming up with Expedia as the best fare on this second site and have almost exclusively started booking through them. They handle flights for over 450 airlines as well as hundreds of thousands of accommodation options, car hire and package deals with enormous discounts to retail. It does pay to check on other sites just in case but we have experienced payment security issues on a couple of other sites. Our most recent experience when booking flights through Expedia.com around North East Africa was awesome. With the troubles in Egypt, we had to reschedule flights. I was able to ring the help desk on Skype from Sudan and get them to find us the best option. They were happy to ring me back and it ended up only costing us the difference in the rerouted flights plus $25 for the changes for both of us. Payment is secure and we have never had any issues with flights or airlines. 5/5
Gear and Equipment
Wiggle has an enormous range of cycling, running and triathlon gear. We bought some of our cycling clothes as well as our Tubus racks for the rear of the bikes. Discounts on buying retail are at least 10%, usually much more and during sales, you can save 40% or more. The website is easy to use and has secure payment. There are lots of reviews on products so make sure you take a look at those, especially where size is important. Some brands are inherently smaller than others despite supposedly universal sizing. The size guidelines on the site itself are excellent with comparisons between Europe, UK, USA and others. Delivery is free after a certain amount and everything arrived as ordered and before the time estimated. Can’t praise them enough. Their biggest problem is trying to decide what items in their huge range to buy. We used the Australian site, but there are Wiggle UK and Wiggle US sites as well.
We haven’t used Probikekit for a while but when I was competing in triathlons I got a lot of my cycling gear through them. They also have an enormous range of bikes, accessories and clothing and the fact that they are based in the UK means that end of season bargains in Australia are perfect for setting up for our season. The end of summer in the UK is spring here in OZ. There is always a huge range of gear with 30% discounts to retail and up and they have frequent awesome sales where you can save even more. The only real downside to the site is that their range is so extensive it can take a while to find exactly what you want. Focus is more on road cycling and racing.
St Kilda Cycles/Bikes on Brunswick 5/5
These guys are based in Melbourne but ship Australia wide. We got all our Ortlieb gear through them for significantly cheaper than we could get retail in Perth. We saved at least $200 on our ~$1000 worth of gear. Everything arrived as ordered and within timeframes. When I realized I’d forgotten to order the extender for our handlebar bags plus wanted the RackPack for the rear, I rang them and they sent them immediately, gave us a discount and threw in free postage. Great service.
The guys were great. We ordered our bikes with all our custom specs while we were still on the road in Africa. Everything was sorted within a week of us being back in Australia. They helped advise on spares and gave us 15% discount on everything (except the bikes themselves that were priced as cheap as I could get them online in Australia) The shop is very focused on road bikes and they are the 4th biggest Bianchi dealer in the world but the guys are definitely not bike snobs and all are passionate about cycling. We were upfront about some of their stuff (eg. The Ortlieb gear) being too expensive to get through them and buying stuff online.
We are now affiliates with these guys and are really excited. They have a great range of camping and hiking gear at significant discounts and everything we bought arrived in perfect condition. We used their Express postage service for a second order and it arrived in Perth within 3 working days. Very professional and responsive to enquiries.
This company appears to be based in Germany. They have an enormous range of gear at extremely cheap prices. BUT….they are total crap. We had a month to plan for this current trip. I made an order of ~$790 AUD based on the website (prices quoted in AUD). When the order hit my credit card it amounted to just over $900 AUD. They hadn’t updated their cross rates as the Aussie dollar had fallen. The difference was the price in Euros converted at the current rate. 5 days later the site said our order was still being “processed”. I started to read some online reviews e.g. on Trustpilot and freaked. This company had a really bad reputation for non-delivery or very late delivery and people were having real trouble getting refunds. I immediately tried to call the helpline. I rang all day and got no response and sent at least half a dozen requests to the online help. I then rang our bank – CBA to see what I could do about stopping the payment. They have a process to recoup funds if warranted and after I explained the situation they felt this order met the criteria. I immediately initiated the refund process through the bank, which meant cancelling our credit card and getting a new one. I then notified Backpackingforever that I had done so and they would be hearing from the bank. To their credit, once I had reached them on the phone a few days later in response to they did an immediate cancellation of the order and I did receive the refund on our card within a week or so. I wonder if they would have been so forthcoming if they hadn’t received contact from our bank. I get the feeling they had had the wind put up them. 8 weeks later I received a response from the online help tickets. Seriously shonky. Don’t touch them with a bargepole. 0/5
Another Australian site we got quite a bit of gear from. Slightly more expensive than we could get online from overseas. The Snowgum water bottles we bought were defective with the lids cracking off, one in our RackPack that contained all our sleeping gear. Very inconvenient in a bushcamp!!! I’ve taken pictures and will report back on their response for a refund. Everything else we bought, however, has been great. All arrived in good order within timeframes quoted. 4/5