If you spend much time doing trip planning on the Internet, you have no doubt found that there are a lot of dead ends and blind paths out there that waste your time. An article I wrote a few months back for Transitions Abroad is now up on their website, a piece on finding travel websites that are worth the search.

Sometimes on this blog I’ll feature a rundown on useful sites for a specific country, like these on Panama, Croatia, and Slovakia. I can’t get to every place out there though and it’s a moving target anyway, especially for the most popular travel destinations. In the article linked above though, I’ve got some examples of some really useful sites and advice on how to find more like them.

The great irony of the Internet is that despite all the sophisticated search engine algorithms, finding the answer to a simple question like, “What are the best budget hotels in northern Costa Rica?” can lead you down a never-ending path of errant clicks and dead-end sites, wasting hours of your time. If you’re trying to find out sample activity costs, narrow down the tour companies with the best reputation, or get the lowdown on the best towns for handicrafts, good luck.

There are travel websites, however, that are truly useful, well organized, and trustworthy. When you find one of these, bookmark it immediately. Use it as your anchor, your site that will tell you what you need to know and will lead you down the right paths.

Find out which sites you can trust – and I would put TransitionsAbroad.com at the top of that list – then keep track of others that are more helpful than annoying. One or two great destination websites can be more useful than ten crappy ones. As I noted in the article, I planned my entire three-week Peru trip through Andean Travel Web. If I were going to Southeast Asia next month, I’d probably only need to visit TravelFish.org.