Before you fork over money for a travel agent, a paperback guide, and a phrasebook, you need to get with the times and consider your digital options. After all, you can find almost anything online; you just need to know where to find it. When it comes to planning a trip, one of the best resources on the web is Wikivoyage — a little-known Wikimedia website that has everything you need to know about your next destination.
What Is Wikivoyage?
Like Wikipedia, Wikivoyage is a free website edited and managed by its own audience. But instead of writing encyclopedia entries, users write articles about travel destinations, including detailed information on continents, countries, cities, and neighborhoods.
How Do I Use Wikivoyage?
You can use Wikivoyage like you’d use Wikipedia. Let’s say, for example, that you were planning a trip to Europe but weren’t sure where to go. You could start by searching for “Europe” on Wikivoyage and reading the entry, where you'll learn about the region’s history, languages, landmarks, transportation types, and cuisines, among other relevant details.
You can drill down into the specifics, too, simply by clicking a hyperlink. Say you click on France followed by Paris. You’ll land on a guide to the city, complete with information about the weather, public transportation, and landmarks. But users have also complemented the guide with important insider tips. You’ll find out why Parisians will respect you more if you act “bien élevé” (well-brought up), where you can enjoy the best vegetarian food, and how to stay safe in the city.
Users can also plan their trip by searching by activity. Love crushing boulders? Search Wikivoyage for "rock climbing," and you'll find a list of international crags. Prefer trudging up a mountain? Read the entry on hiking, which includes a packing list alongside some of the world's best trails.
You’ll find even more travel intel if you look beyond Wikivoyage's articles. The website also includes:
Tourist Office: Have a specific question? You can ask the community or search the website for previous answers.
Phrasebook: It’s always wise, even polite, to learn a few words and phrases before traveling to another country. Wikivoyage has guides for countless languages, from Sinhala and Xhosa to Russian and Portuguese.
Arrival’s Lounge: While the website’s interface isn’t conducive to group conversations, with a little extra effort you can get involved in the Wikivoyage community by visiting the Arrival’s Lounge or Traveller’s Pub.
Itineraries: If you need inspiration for your next vacation, peruse Wikivoyage’s itineraries section. History buffs will particularly enjoy entries like “On the trail of Alexander the Great” and “Voyages of Sven Hedin.”
The Bottom Line
You don’t have to pay a travel agent to plan your next trip. As long as you’re willing to do a little research (which is half the fun), Wikivoyage has everything you need to book a safe, thoughtful trip, including information about flights, hotels, car rentals, safety, and other essential details. And if you find that information is lacking, you can consult other free resources: Reddit communities, travel blogs, YouTube videos, social media, and more. The bottom line is that you shouldn’t have to pay for trip planning in the 21st century.
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