I can’t imagine anyone not loving to travel. Sure, it can be a pain when it is done for work but even professional trips can hold a chance for a new experience if you just give yourself a bit of time to enjoy yourself. It is all about being driven to see a place you never have before, or discover the wonders of a place where you have. The excitement of the unknown is ultimately what drives us.
But what about when you want to travel, and you even have the money and time, but you don’t know where to go? This happens all the time, and it is more about there being too much choice than too little. There are so many places to go, so much to see, so many people to meet. How can you settle on just one when you could go anywhere in the world?
Sometimes, it helps to have a little inspiration to point you in the right direction. Here are lots of great resources that provide just that, so you can plan your next trip knowing exactly what you want.
Not-So-Obvious Travel Sites
1. Travel Muse
Plan the perfect vacation by narrowing down your options based on preference. Put in the number of travelers, time of year, duration, accommodation class, budget per person, theme and activities, maximum flight time and it gives you a list of choices for your perfect vacation.
You can also look at the destinations page, which shows you popular vacation areas, as well as lesser known places you might enjoy.
2. Last Minute
This is a nice site for English travelers. Choose a departure point, tell them what you want to do and put in how much you want to spend.
Last Minute does the rest. They will show you the best travel deals for – you guessed it – last minute travelers.
3. Ordinary Traveler
Going to a new place can be daunting for even the most experienced travelers. It helps to have as much information as possible. Where do you get that? From people who have been there as tourists themselves, of course.
Find out what friends have said about a location, or others on the web. From luxury travelers to backpackers, you can learn from there experience and find the best hostels, hole-in-the-wall eaters, attractions and more. Ask questions or share your expertise of a city.
4. PrintMePoster / Travel
Do you want to finally motivate yourself (and you partner) to hit the road? Check out this site. Tons of creative posters featuring various travel adventures can be found on the site. You can browse for hours!
You have two options with this site. Either you can pout in the destination you want to go to to find rates and vacation ideas in the area. Or, you can find a place to go by deciding whether you want to fly or drive, how much to spend and what kind of activities you might be interested in. It works by putting in the level on interest for each section on a sliding scale. You can also check out their useful guides, such as a guide to teaching English abroad, or traveling for students.
Inspiring Travel Flickr Groups: Toys on Vacation
Who says toys should stay in one place? I don’t mean a secret conspiracy of children’s items, like on Toy Story. I am referring to the act of bringing toys on vacation, so you can take photos of them in different locations. It is a very popular genre of photography, and one that you frequently see on blogs.
Another place to see them is Flickr, where whole groups have been dedicated to the concept of playthings getting away from it all and seeing the world. Here are five of the best groups to find such photos.
5. Toys On Holiday
Most of the toys here seem to be teddy bears, but there are many other items, as well. From urban shots of a toy sitting on a bus bench, or something more country related against a brilliant blue sky, there are more than 5,500 shots here to look at. Many of which have been taken with a touch of humor you will be sure to appreciate.
7. Traveling Non Gnomes
Back in the 1980’s, a playful Australian started a trend. He stole a friend’s garden gnome and took it traveling with him. In each new place, he would take a photo of the gnome on holiday, and send it back to the owners, never explaining why. It started a huge trend, and eventually inspired the Travelocity Gnome. But if you don’t have a gnome, why not use something else? This is for all the traveling non-gnomes out there.
8. Toys On Holidays
Is your stuffed dog looking a little worn down lately? Maybe your GI Joe just hasn’t have the same gumption he used to? It might be time for your toys to take a holiday. Make sure to get plenty of pictures of them going about their trip, and add them here.
9. Traveling Plushies
From monkeys to squirrels, and even a couple of Patrick Starfish, there are ore than a thousand photos here of plushie specific holidays. The users got pretty creative with these ones, so there are plenty you are sure to enjoy.
10. Traveling Domo
Japanese mascot Domo has become popular all over the world. Even with those who don’t know its origins. But now, he is traveling to every country for real, making his way across the world. Since 2011, he has been making a trek from place to place. Currently, he is in the UK. If you want to “host” Domo, before sending him off to the next location, you can do so by joining the group and putting in your request.
Instagram Traveling Inspiration
Even the most dedicated traveler needs a little push sometimes when it comes to planning the next escapade. The more you make your way around the world, the harder it can be at times to pinpoint just where you want to go next. That was my problem after I completed my first list of places I wanted to go in my lifetime. I felt at a loss as to where to next set my sights.
When you are feeling the same, it can help to look for inspiration elsewhere. One of my all time favorite sites for doing this is Instagram, as there are so many photos from users who were on their own travels.
These are my favorite users for wanderlust inspiring photos.
11. National Geographic
Any list of travel inspiration will have something from National Geographic at the very top. One of the most famous and trusted global travel magazines around, it has expanded further on the Internet to include blogs, websites, videos and much more.
There Instagram has some truly stunning photography from around the world, including exotic locations, wild beasts, people of all cultures, and sights you might even see in your own backyard. They have over two million Instagram followers…is anyone surprised?
12. Japhet Tweeks
Journalist Japhet Tweeks lives in Cairo, and he has set about giving everyone a view of life there from day to day. Despite the unrest currently overtaking Egypt, he manages to show a beautiful, optimistic side of the troubled city.
Often it includes locals going about their afternoon, speaking on cellphones or sitting on park benches. But that is mixed with a darker view of tanks and barbed wire, soldiers and protesters. Balanced, gorgeous and profound, he is a must-follow user.
13. Murad Osmann
Murad Osmann is not a photographer. He is an artist specializing in music videos and advertisements, and he is incredibly good at what he does.
His unique style comes through in his posted work, and my personal favorite are the images of him being pulled along by his girlfriend through various places.
Primarily photographing polar environments on sailing trips, some of the best images you will ever see of Antarctica are h ere. Landscapes, indigenous creatures like penguins and seals, stunning horizons.. he captures it all.
Along with a couple of others from around the world as he makes his way from country to country.
15. Sharolyn Wise
You know those landscape photos of sunsets and sunrises you see on wallpaper sites? I bet a fair few of them came from Sharolyn Wise’s camera. She has some of the most incredible landscape photos you could ever hope to see. Every time she updates, I find myself in awe of her talent and the beauty she finds.
We have only one life and that life is filled with things you must find time for: education, career, family, etc. Traveling is thus easy to put aside until you “have time” – which is a shame as traveling is one of the things worth spending time and money on!
Inspiring Google Maps Mashaps
There are a lot of places on the web that can inspire you to travel. Pinterest is one that immediately comes to mind, as does Trip Advisor and Facebook. Then you have the myriad of different travel blogs, social media profiles on Twitter, Youtube videos, and articles that are posted in ezines and online versions of popular publications. You can find yourself overwhelmed by the amount of choice you have for holiday ideas.
Well, I am now going to add one more. Because something that the above options don’t have is a peek into the cities themselves. Like street views, checking out neighborhoods and just getting the general idea of the layout of a place. Anyone who has ever gone backpacking in an unfamiliar place knows that this can be very important to know before you go. Even more crucial since so many travel sites focus on tourist-based or high priced areas. Those of us who prefer the unbeaten path need to find different information.
You can find this info using Google Street View. The satellite imaging application is an easy way to find specific areas, look at how the city really is, and decide if you want to go there or not. Lately, I have seen some really cool ways that people are further creating travel inspiring images using Google Street View.
16. The Beat
One is through the Rutger’s University social media and image project, The Beat. This mashes together images of people and events, along with images from Google Street View set at the location the other image was taken.
For example, there was a photo shown of a children’s choir in Florida preparing to sing. They were wearing orange shirts and Santa hats, their choir teacher standing in front of them with his hands raised to begin the song. This was set against an image view of the street it was happening on, along with the address and how long ago it was taken.
Along the bottom of the screen are different hashtags that relate to the image, or just the general tone of it. So if a restaurant chooses to use the project to show a customer enjoying a meal, along with a Street View of their eatery, they could have hashtags about the restaurant and connecting to their Twitter profile beneath.
The images are constantly changing, giving you just enough time to learn more if you choose. Conceptually, it is a really cool idea. The images are fascinating, giving you both an inside and outside look simultaneously. It is always fun when there is a more humanized element, as well. Not to mention, the Street View images are interactive, so you can drag it to get a better look at another portion of the picture.
Another cool project is History Pins. It takes historic images and puts them against a map. When you select a photo from the map, it will bring it up and then put it against the Google Street View image today.
While the idea is very simple, it is so cool to see the changes that have occurred over the last several generations. Some comparisons are more drastic than others, and all are interesting.
Both of these projects gives me a different kind of inspiration. The first provides a direct look into what is happening in areas around the US right now. That has always given me a hunger for seeing my own country, and I am planning a road trip for the Spring based on some of the areas I have seen. It will be an attempt to see what my own homeland has to offer.
The second has made me really want to see Australia, and various historical areas around Sydney in particular. Just to see for myself the way that the area has grown and changed over time.
Do you know of any applications or projects that use Google Street View? How do they inspire you to travel? Let us know in the comments.
18. Twitter Inspiration
Of all social media tools, I think that Twitter is my favorite when I travel. While I try to get at least one blog post up per week when I am on the road, I am able to update my readers almost constantly using microblogging. It is a super simple, effective way of letting them know what it is that has been going on, where I currently am and any little details that I can later elaborate on in my coming post. It also helps me to remember what I wanted to include in that post.
But something I have only recently been using Twitter for is finding travel inspiration. In the beginning of my travels, I had a clear idea of where I wanted to go. I had dreamed of the places so long that my only struggle was trying to decide the order of the trips.
As time went on and I logged more miles on my old sneakers, I started to check off all those dream locations. Eventually, I had gone through them all. The good news was that during my trips I had come up with a new list, but soon those were checked off as well. I started to feel a little uninspired when it came to my travels, even if my desire to get out there was as strong as it had ever been.
It was through finding the Twitter account of flight attendant and blogger Heather Poole that I discovered a new use for the site. I could connect with other travelers and travel sites to help boost my inspiration once again. Which can be done easily both by following certain users, and my keeping an eye on certain hashtags.
People To Follow
There is a decent chance you have read Keith’s travel blog, Velvet Escape. Located in Amsterdam, he is he a frequent traveler and photographer. He has spent many years posting his work on both his blog and on Twitter. Some of his images are among the most inspiring you will find, and definitely beautiful.
An editor for Lonely Planet, he is a frequent writer for many publications, including the travel section of the New York Times. He is always there for some good travel tips, links to relevant news and posts and even just a friendly conversation with his watchers.
China based freelance writer and traveler Jeannie Mark first showed up on the scene with her blog Nomadic Chick. She does great theme posts that are usually seasonal in nature, such as a new one having to do with paranormal travels thanks to the Halloween season. She is very sociable and friendly.
The Twitter headquarters for the writers of IndependentTraveler.com, this is a fun account that is always full of news, advice and tricks written for the travel enthusiast. From budgeting to an update on the situation of a region that has been classified as ‘unsafe’, you can get the info here.
While his main account is interesting for his travel insights, if you really want something cool you should check out @ItsMyLife365. It is his other account, where he posts a new video every day of the year. Most end up being travel related.
Want to travel the world on a budget? Don’t book that hostel with the cockroach warnings in the reviews just yet. Instead, check out the Frugal Traveler, who has dedicated himself to finding the very best for the cheapest cost possible. From all inclusive trips to resorts for $600, to little bed and breakfasts for $50 a night, if it is out there, he has probably found it.
A lot of us hate following the usual tourist routes when we travel. It just isn’t a good way to get the true nature of a place. Not For Tourists understands the problem. They have offered a great urban guide for the average traveler looking to stay away from the heavily beaten path.
Hashtags To Watch
- #TravelTuesday – This is a theme day on Twitter, where many travelers will post special content.
- #BeachThursday – If you have a love for the beach, this is a great way to share that enthusiasm. Or find out the best beaches that you can go to yourself.
- #Travel – A generic term, but one that is used very commonly. You can find a great deal of useful posts with this one.
- #LP – The official hashtag for Lonely Planet. They often search this term out themselves to find high quality content from travelers that they end up sharing with their readers.
- #LuxChat – For those of you who like to travel in luxury, you can use this chat to find out all you need to know. Held every 3rd Wednesday of the month at 5:30 PM ET.
- #TourismChat – Discuss all things travel with others who have a real love of the hobby. Held Thursdays at 3PM ET.
- #CruiseChat – Do you love being on the open sea? Cruise enthusiasts can learn about great deals, find out about other’s experiences on a certain cruise line and more. Held Tuesdays at 2-3PM ET.
- #TTOM – Just because we have kids doesn’t keep us from seeing the world. For all those traveling moms, here is a chat just for you. Held Mondays at both 9 – 10PM EST.
You can find more Twitter chats here.
Do you have a good travel planning site that can inspire a trip away? Let us know in the comments!
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