Wednesday, April 26th, 2017

Travel Resources

82 Travel Resources To Plan a Trip Like An Expert

After years of full-time travel, I’ve tried out tons of different travel websites, gear and resources. I’ve spent hours each week trying to figure out how to travel cheaper and better. This is a collection of the best travel resources when it comes to transportation, accommodation, gear, travel insurance, and more.

All of these items listed here are products that I have personally used and recommend to others. Here we go!

Finding Cheap Flights

Skyscanner

My favorite thing about Skyscanner is that it has “everywhere” as a destination option. Perfect when you want to see where you can fly for cheap! You can also choose an entire country, i.e. fly to Italy. Skyscanner also lets you search within a full month if you have flexible dates.

Momondo

Momondo is a good backup for Skyscanner. Just make sure you click through and read all the fine print, because while they’ll occasionally find even better deals, sometimes they’ll link you to deals that don’t exist.

Kayak

Kayak used to be my favorite flight search engine, but they have removed several budget airlines from their search engine in the past year. You can still find deals on here, so I wouldn’t write them off completely.

WhichBudget

This great website tells you exactly which budget airlines fly between destinations.

The Points Guy

My favorite resource for navigating the world of earning free travel through points and miles and finding out current deals. The Points Guy tends to report deals before anyone else!

Finding Accommodation

Agoda

I find that Agoda most often has the best rates for booking hotels. They have the best selection and almost always have the lowest rates in Asia in particular, but in recent years they’ve expanded well for the rest of the world.

Airbnb

The biggest directory of homes, apartments, and unusual rentals rented by owner or by. Usually better quality but cheaper than a hotel in the same neighborhood. BONUS: Sign up through this link and you’ll get free credit on your first stay from me!

Booking.com

Booking.com is an easy, great search engine to use. Great selection of hotels, usually very low prices, and no fees.

Hotels.com

The best benefit of Hotels.com is that you earn a free stay for every 10 nights you book with them. The bad news is that it’s only for certain stays, and your free stays are awarded at the average rate of the 10 nights you booked. But a free night is nothing to sneeze at!

TravelPony

Thanks to private membership, TravelPony has deeply discounted rooms that aren’t available to the general public. All you need to do is sign up. I’ve found TravelPony is best when you’re looking for a 3-5 star hotel in a major city.

HostelWorld

Yes, HostelWorld has hostels, but it also has guesthouses, B&Bs, and sometimes even simple boutique hotels! The selection of cheap accommodation is the best on the web.

Couchsurfing

Far more than just free accommodation. Couchsurfing is a community of travelers dedicated to connecting and sharing. While you could stay for free around the world, I mostly use Couchsurfing to find local community events and meet people in different cities.

Overland Travel Resources

Seat61

This incredibly comprehensive guide is chock full of information on train and overland travel around the world. Want to know how to get around a certain country? Seat61 will tell you.

RailEurope

It can be tough to book trains on a million different foreign sites in Europe, but Rail Europe makes it simple to do everything from planning routes and checking times to buying tickets.

Virgin Trains

My favorite resource for booking trains in the UK. Unlike other train booking sites, they don’t charge you a booking fee.

Vacations To Go

Are you a cruiser? If so, don’t book without checking out Vacations To Go first. This private membership site (which anyone can join) displays rock-bottom cruise prices that you won’t find anywhere else.

Kayak Cars

I don’t rent cars often, but when I do, I use Kayak. I’ve found their rates to usually be the lowest.

Megabus, Bolt Bus, and Greyhound

One of the secrets of U.S. travel is that the buses are comfortable, usually have plugs and wifi, and are dirt cheap — you can get $1 fares on the Megabus and Bolt Bus if you book several weeks in advance! I once traveled San Francisco to Los Angeles for $1 on the Megabus.

Travel Insurance

World Nomads

I recommend World Nomads for almost all travelers. Their coverage is great and can be easily extended as many times as you’d like, reporting claims is simple, and the site is easy to navigate. As with all insurance, be sure to read the fine print and make sure it’s right for you.

Travel Gear

Pacsafe Portable Safe

This is the #1 product I recommend my readers buy. If there’s no safe in your lodging, put your belongings in here and lock it to the sturdiest thing in your room (pipes are best, but use whatever you have). Use it with a quality combination lock so you don’t have to worry about losing the key.

Osprey Sojourn 60L 

This wheeled backpack is what I use for most long-term trips today. The Osprey Sojourn is built like a tank: it is so strong and sturdy, yet not too heavy. While it can technically be worn as a backpack, I prefer to use it as a rolling suitcase.

eBags Medium Packing Cubes and Flight 001 Spacepak

Packing cubes are amazing — they let you pack more efficiently, fit in more than you thought you could, and “unpack without unpacking.” The eBags ones are long and narrow and I use one for tops, one for bottoms, and one for underwear, bras, bathing suits, and socks. I use the flat Spacepak for dresses and larger items.

LowePro Fastpack 250

This is my day bag — it holds my technology and photography equipment, as well as my valuables, and never leaves my side while in transit. My favorite part is the laptop slot on the side, which makes airport security so much faster!

Safety Whistle

Ladies — and dudes — this is an important safety item. A loud whistle brings attention. If you’re trapped under something, if you’re lost or isolated, if you’re endangered, using your whistle will alert people to your location.

Rubber Doorstop

Another safety item. If you have a private room, you’ll have a lock, but just in case, shoving a doorstop beneath the door will make it difficult for people to enter your room. Just in case.

LUSH Solid Shampoo

Solid shampoo is fantastic — it takes up little space and won’t leak over your bag. It’s good to switch your shampoo from time to time, so I carry one Godiva shampoo (highly conditioning and flowery), one cinnamon shampoo (highly conditioning and spicy), and I keep them in two LUSH tins.

Abeo B.I.O.system Balboa Metatarsal Flip-Flops and Tevas Tirra Sandals

I need to wear supportive shoes due to arch issues in my right foot, and these are the two kinds of sandals that I can wear comfortably. I live in the Abeo flip-flops when in warm climates; the Tevas are very light and perfect for more athletic activities.

Travel Guides

Lonely Planet PDF Travel Guides

Lonely Planet makes my favorite travel guides. I no longer buy the books — instead, I buy their PDFs, save them to my Dropbox, then open them in iBooks on my iPhone. You can also buy single chapters from most guidebooks, which is convenient if you’re only visiting one city or region in a country.

Travel Photography

Nikon D5100 Camera and Tamron 17-50 f/2.8 Lens

I’ve been using this combination for my photography since April 2013. It’s a good combination for your first DSLR, and it’s worked for me so far, though I do plan to upgrade to a better model within the next year.

SanDisk 32 GB Memory Cards

SanDisk builds quality memory cards. I recommend getting at least two, just in case something happens to one of them.

All-in-One Memory Card Reader

Don’t even think of plugging your camera into your computer! This memory card reader will fit cards of all sizes and make an easy transfer to your computer.

Adobe Photoshop Lightroom

Lightroom is my primary photo editing software, and now both Photoshop and Lightroom are available in a set for just $9.99 per month.

Technology and Digital Resources

Macbook Air

There’s a debate about whether a Macbook Air or Macbook Pro is better for digital nomads. For my personal needs — internet, building presentations on Keynote, word processing, Evernote, iTunes, editing photos on Lightroom — the Macbook Air gets the job done and has the bonus of being so incredibly lightweight.

Unlocked iPhone 4S

My constant companion. I buy local SIM cards with data in most countries that I visit. After two and a half years, the battery is dying very quickly, so I hope to upgrade to the 6 when it comes out.

Kindle Paperwhite (wifi only)

If you don’t have a Paperwhite, you don’t know what you’re missing! It’s so much better than the basic Kindle, with a nice weight, smooth material, and a touch screen. Best of all, it’s backlit, so you can read in the dark as easily as you can on the beach. Make sure you get a case, too — while I can’t find the one I have, this one is nice, cheap, and comes in several colors.

Getting a Kindle made me a voracious reader once again. I can’t tell you how happy that has made me.

MyCharge 6000 Peak Rechargeable Power Bank

Whenever I take this out, people always ask me about it. My MyCharge holds enough power to charge an iPhone four times and can charge an Apple device, USB cord, or micro device. I use it daily. Oh, and it talks! “Charging complete.” That always cracks people up.

MAXAH Universal Converter

This universal converter will have you covered for almost everywhere in the world. (Keep in mind that some countries with unusual plugs, like South Africa, are best off picked up upon your arrival in the country.)

Mini Power Strip

While I use the product linked above, you may prefer this different model because it includes USB chargers. For the times when you return from a long time without power and need to charge everything you own in a hurry, from computer to phone to Kindle to multiple camera batteries, this lets you charge several devices from a single outlet.

Seagate Expansion 2TB External Hard Drive

External hard drives are a good thing to have, period, and they’re essential if you have a Macbook Air and lots of pictures. This is a quality hard drive for a good price.

SmugMug

Do not make the mistake of not backing up your photos! SmugMug allows you to store unlimited photos and HD video for $60 per year. There are also cheaper plans.

Dropbox

Hard drives can fail and laptops can be stolen. Keep important documents — in fact, ALL of your documents — backed up on Dropbox, including copies of your passport and credit cards.

Boingo

Boingo has wifi hotspots around the world and a variety of plans for you to access them. You’ll find Boingo hotspots in just about every major airport, and I found it absolutely essential in Japan and South Korea, as these countries are dominated by membership wifi networks (and Boingo is a partner). I’ve used Boingo everywhere from coffee shops in Germany to hotels in South Africa.

Skype

Everyone knows about using Skype for video calls home for free — but it’s also very useful for cheap calls anywhere in the world, whether it’s your bank at home or a hostel abroad. I top up $10.00 about twice a year.

Travel Blogging

How to Start a Travel Blog in Six Easy Steps

Looking to start a travel blog? Or any other kind of blog? This post will show you how to set up a self-hosted WordPress blog with screenshots to guide you.

BlueHost

Excellent, quality web hosting for a low price. Bluehost has an easy-to-use interface, one-click WordPress installation, very helpful (and easy-to-get-hold-of) customer service, and rates as low as $4.95 per month. I run all but one of my sites on Bluehost.

Aweber

An email list is, by far, the most important thing you can have and something you should start immediately. I started my email list on Mailchimp, but Aweber is far better and I wish I had started there from the beginning because I lost a lot of subscribers when I switched over.

Travel Blog Success

This is an incredibly helpful course for travel bloggers that will start you on the path to earning money with your travel blog. In my opinion, the best part of TBS is the extremely helpful Facebook group and community (which is FAR more helpful than the larger travel blogging Facebook groups). I regularly contribute there and help newer bloggers with their problems.

Backup Buddy

A premium plugin worth the high price tag. You can configure this plugin to back up your site automatically every 24 hours and store it in the cloud — you don’t have to do a thing.

RTW Labs

Chris Richardson has saved my site and my sanity on multiple occasions. If your site suddenly stops working and your host has no idea what’s wrong, send Chris a message and he’ll fix it for you.

Kate’s Favorite Travel Reads

The Ridiculous Race by Steve Hely and Vali Chandrasekaran — Two young comedy writers (they went on to write for 30 Rock!) decide to race each other around the world without airplanes. I’ve never laughed so hard from a travel memoir in my life.

The Sun Also Rises by Ernest Hemingway — My favorite book of all time. This novel depicts the wild lives of the “lost generation” expats living in Paris and traveling around Europe in the 1930s.

Into Thin Air by John Krakauer — After reading this memoir, you will join me in swearing that you will never, EVER attempt to climb Mount Everest. Journalist John Krakauer happened to be on the disastrous expedition of 1996.

Love With a Chance of Drowning by Torre DeRoche — When you fall in love with a man planning to sail across the Pacific and he invites you to join him, you don’t let your fear of water stand in the way. This hilarious, sweet and heartfelt memoir was written by a friend of mine.

The Post-Birthday World by Lionel Shriver — No writer moves me like Lionel Shriver. After I read this novel, I couldn’t stop thinking about the characters for months. It’s not as travel-oriented as the others, but it absolutely nails life as an American expat in London.

Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil by John Berendt — Savannah is a CRAZY city, y’all. This “nonfiction novel” will blow you away — it doesn’t seem like a place like this can be real. Savannah is painted as a closed-off town with characters that would even Dickens would think are extreme.

Mastering the Art of French Eating by Ann Mah — You’ve just moved to Paris with your beloved husband — but as soon as you arrive, he gets transferred to Baghdad for a year. What can you do? Well, you spend a year diving into French food and writing about it. Delicious, sweet memoir.

Moonlight in Odessa by Janet Skeslien Charles — A fun and surprising novel about life in Odessa, Ukraine, in the 1990s, which at that time was run by the Mafia, and a brilliant young woman who takes a job working for a mail-order bride company.

Wild by Cheryl Strayed — Cheryl lost her mother, her marriage, and was descending into heroin addiction. So she decided to spend months hiking the Pacific Crest Trail on her own, despite having zero experience. A beautiful, real, transformative memoir about the power of solo female travel.

When You Are Engulfed in Flames by David Sedaris — I love David Sedaris’s witty essay collections, but this one has some particularly great travel moments, including a lengthy story about using a trip to Japan to quit smoking.

Bringing Up Bebe by Pamela Druckerman– Why are French children so polite and well-behaved? An American writer and her British husband raise three children in Paris and compare French and Anglo parenting firsthand. Even if you’re not a parent, it contains fascinating nuances about French culture, behavior, and priorities.

Where’s You Go, Bernadette? by Mara Semple — A fun, quick and unusually buoyant beach read. This novel takes in a wacky artist who goes missing and her daughter and husband’s journey to Antarctica to find her.

Crazy Rich Asians by Kevin Kwan — Another fun beach read about the stratospherically rich Chinese living in Singapore and their quirky behavior. While the characterization leaves a bit to be desired, this is a fascinating culture to discover for a few hours and you can tell the author knows a lot about this world!

Tales of a Female Nomad by Rita Golden Gelman — At age 48, following a sudden divorce, Rita decided to sell her possessions and become a nomad, living simply among locals for months to years at a time, from Mexico to Bali to the Galapagos. What she was doing was revolutionary at the time — she’s like our digital nomad grandmother!

Eat, Pray, Love and its sequel, Committed, by Elizabeth Gilbert — Loved, reviled, and justifiably famous, because Elizabeth Gilbert is one of the most joyful writers alive today. These books are beautifully self-aware and showcase the healing power of travel.

Drink, Play, F*ck — A funny faux memoir told from the point of view of Gilbert’s husband, who goes on to drink in Ireland, gamble in Vegas, and, um, get busy in Thailand.

Note: Some of the above links are affiliate links, which at no extra cost to you, will earn me a small commission and reduce the costs of running this site. Please know that commission or no commission, I genuinely recommend every product on this page. If you have any questions about these products, please let me know!

Thanks! 🙂