Singaporeans are a pretty well-travelled bunch. Last year, it was reported that locals are spending an increasing amount on travel, and it’s not surprising — the experience of travelling can make even the most jaded among us see the world through renewed lenses.
However, planning for trips abroad can often be a huge headache: there are a flood of travel guides out there, each recommending places and food as novel and intriguing as the other. Which websites should you trust? Here’s a list of interesting websites you might want to check out.
1. For The Adventurous Foodie: Meal Sharing
Food connects people, and what better way to experience a country’s culture and food than by sharing a meal with the locals? Meal Sharing is a site that allows you to either look for a host in the country you are visiting, or request for a meal, should you not find what you want on the site. Hosts listing their menus also indicate the cost of each meal, so you can look out for ones that suit your budget.
Having a warm, home-cooked meal in the comforts of a local home gives you the chance to fully immerse yourself in someone else’s culture, and make friends at the same time. Who knows? You might leave after lunch with a full belly and some lifelong friends to boot.
If you’d like to pay it forward with the hospitality you’ve received, you can also list yourself as a host. That way, you’ll be able to meet with international visitors — and showcase your very own recipes — even if you don’t travel yourself.
If you’re worried about safety (and you should be, going to a stranger’s house), don’t worry: Meal Sharing allows you to connect with a host via phone and Facebook before you head down to dine at their home. That said, going to someone’s house does require a sense of adventure and risk — just be sure to exercise caution while you’re at it.
2. For The Picky, Luxury Go-Getter: Absolute Travel
If you’re the type to spare no expense on your travels, then you’ll want to ensure that you get an experience as close to your ideal vacation as possible. And what better way to do that than to have a personalised itinerary?
Winner of Travel + Leisure’s World’s Best Tour Operator Award in 2013, Absolute Travel is a comprehensive website where visitors can link up with expert planners who will customise your trips based your requests. To begin, simply enter the kind of vacation you’re interested in planning for — honeymoon, culinary or wellness, amongst others — and the website will provide you with some suggestions, giving you a clue on where to start. If you have already have a destination in mind, you can browse through featured travel spots and information.
For those who’re sick of the usual hotels and resorts you stay at on each trip abroad, Absolute Travel even allows you to choose from unique, off-the-beaten-path accommodations (such as the one above) to make your holiday an even more special one.
3. For The Do-Everything-Yourself Adventurer: Rome2rio
With the help of travel apps and websites, more of us are beginning to take travel planning into our own hands. One problem, of course, is figuring out how transport services in other countries work.
Rome2rio is a web-based transport search engine that will give you directions for travelling within a country, across cities, or even around the globe. It covers various transport modes, and will come in handy if you find yourself having to work out the best way to get from point A to B.
Its interface is largely similar to Google Maps, though a helpful feature is that Rome2rio includes the travel cost incurred alongside the travel route — budget-conscious travellers will no doubt find this helpful when trying to keep their spending to a minimum.
4. For The Experience-Focused Traveller: Black Tomato
With a name like Black Tomato, you really can’t expect the site to be your run-of-the-mill travel blog. The website claims to be able to make your dream trip come true, “whatever your destination, however unusual your request.”
To do so, they’ve categorised various itineraries according to Experience types; these are based on actual travel experiences of others, so you can more or less get an idea of what to expect, should you choose to embark on them yourself. If you can’t find what you’re looking for within these categories, you can also choose to approach Black Tomato’s overseas partners and contacts for insider information and tips.
Of course, their pretty pictures don’t hurt:
If you’ve already taken time off work, but don’t know where exactly you should go — or where’s the best place to go during that time — Black Tomato has a feature they call the Holiday Finder. All you have to do is indicate the purpose for your trip, and when you want to travel. The site will then generate a list of places you could consider.
But what’s most unique about Black Tomato is its Bucket List tab, where users can enter the places they want to visit or stay at onto a personal, online bucket list. They can then check those places off when they’ve successfully made the trip.