I’ve found a few online communities that I simply love, that are really helping me plan my trip.
First, a very famous site for backpackers, Boots N’ All (www.bootsnall.com) – the main part I use is the discussion boards, which are organized by country/area or by topic. Large membership, lots of posts… lots of good info! This is perfect for asking broad general questions, or to get opinions from a lot of people. Besides the discussion board, they’ve got country by country info, travel news & interesting articles, and a sections on where to stay and how to get there.
Next up is Guide for Europe (www.guideforeurope.com). Obviously, this site is only on Europe. Besides the discussion board, there’s a generous amount of first person travel tips & tricks, and a good section on hostels & transportation. The discussion board is again my favourite part – it’s a small community, but the information the members will give is very thoughtful and detailed, and no post goes unanswered (unless it’s totally crazy). This is the main place where I was able to muddle through most of my itinerary, with great feedback.
Finally, there’s Couch Surfing (www.couchsurfing.com). I’ve already gotten involved online through the “groups” (basically specific interest areas where members of each group can post & reply). My plan is to surf a lot of couches through Europe – free accommodation with an awesome inter-cultural component! I really hope to be able to surf some couches through Europe to find out what the people in each country are really like (and not just the big sights)