Go-To Sources for Doing Travel Research

Before heading out or while on the road, it’s always good to have at least an idea of what you’re getting into, what you want to do, what there is to see, and what to look out for while traveling. We recommend a healthy dose of research before you leave home combined with an adventurous spirit and a go-with-the-flow approach once you’re at your destination. Once you stop organizing your entire trip with hotel bookings and bus tickets in advance you’ll start to realize just how freeing flexibility really can be.

Google is always your friend, but in general we rely on a few sources for most of our travel information:

  • When booking airfare, we keep an eye out for months on websites like Secret Flying and check hundreds of flight combinations on Sky Scanner. If you can book a flight for several hundred dollars cheaper from a nearby city, maybe it’s worth the time to hitchhike or bus there for your departure. Unfortunately airfare prices somehow generally disincentivize low-emission travel approaches, so you’ll have to balance this issue between your wallet and your conscience.
  • The Government of Canada’s Travel and Tourism website offers a wealth of country-specific information and highlights things that travelers should know about their destinations, such as needed vaccines, security risks, local cultural practices, etc. While Elliott is obviously biased towards the services of his own country, he finds some of the warnings a little more balanced than on the travel websites of other countries. Nonetheless, some of the warnings can be a little far-fetched, and locals or other travelers will tell you that an apparently dangerous area can actually in fact be quite safe. Take the information on this website with a grain of salt.
  • Wikitravel offers a decent amount of great tips, especially for destinations that can be under-served by some of the big travel guide companies. It can also include more obscure sights that you might miss otherwise. Keep in mind that locals can edit the pages, which can sometimes result in great local insights, and sometimes result in somebody plugging their business.
  • The big travel guide companies such as Lonely Planet are always popular, and while some of their websites totally suck now and are clearly meant to sell stupid pre-booked tours, sometimes the physical books can be useful. Just remember, if you’re reading about it in your guide, so are thousands of other travelers. We usually avoid travel guides altogether unless they are lying around for free in a hostel.
  • Always talk to locals. Chat with your server, hang around the guest house, go hitchhiking, and talk to anybody who will listen. Locals always give the best travel tips, even if you don’t share the same language and have no actual idea where you’re going or what you’re getting yourself into.
  • For free camping, check out https://freecampsites.net/ (although sometimes the campsites aren’t free, and sometimes the suggestions just suck), the British Columbia Government’s free recreation campsites, or pick up a physical copy of Camp Free in BC so you don’t need internet access while on the road. Keep in mind that it is perfectly legal to camp for free on Crown land (government owned land) in Canada, although specific regulations and maps on how to find it vary a little bit by each province.