There's certainly nothing wrong with using major online travel sites like Expedia, Orbitz, Travelocity, and TripAdvisor to plan your trip to Europe.
But for a special take on the local scene wherever you're planning to visit, try to find a 'native' travel site, written by someone who lives there.
Independent websites, often written by entrepreneurial types who live or work in the locations they write about, can give you a unique and personal viewpoint of your destination not found in the travel information provided by the 'big boys'.
Whether you're heading overseas for the first time or you've been traveling to Europe for years, re-searching your destination online before you go will improve your options for a successful trip.
It's a simple task to find online travel planning sites with loads of general information for practically anywhere in the world.
But using 'first person' travel sites will often provide you with intimate details and inside information that can not only make your trip unique, but will enhance your travel memories and the significance of your trip, while providing the greatest value for every Dollar, Euro, or Yen you spend.
Using small destination sites in your online research will better prepare you for where you're going. They can help you discover local options for sightseeing, attractions, regional cuisines, and overnight accommodations never mentioned in the brochures of big name group tours and travel packages.
While smaller online travel sites may not be equipped to book your trip, they will provide you with first-person tips and resources about their destinations to help you plan the best trip possible for what you want to see and do.
Buying travel for Europe, or anywhere overseas, is no different than negotiating for any major purchase you make.
The more you know up front, the better choices and decisions you're equipped to handle.
Using the web to research travel online is an investment in the quality, success, and outcome of your trip.
But it's sometimes hard to know which sites are legit and provide good, quality information, and which are simple spin-offs by those who've merely vacationed somewhere and feel they're qualified to write about it.
Occasionally we run across small independent travel planning sites written by entrepreneurial site owners with a first-hand love and knowledge of the places they write about.
Most are native to their subject matter, having lived - or are still living - in the destinations they know and love.
Their knowledge and insight can offer you a 'hands on' view of the people, places, history, and culture of the locations they cover.
Below are a few of these unique online travel sites. Check them out if the desti-nations interest you. I think you'll find they add a unique twist and voice to your collection of favorite online travel sites and will become go-to sites as you research your travel online.