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!
Booking Cheap Travel
Skyscanner for flights
Not all airlines show up in all flight search engines. They do in 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.
Omio for trains
Omio is an easy one-stop shop for booking cheap train travel. While many countries require you to go through their own websites, often in different languages, Omio keeps it easy and helps you book your flights for cheap.
RentalCars.com for rental cars
RentalCars.com shows you all the car rentals available across a variety of platforms, making sure you get the cheapest price every time.
Booking.com for hotels
Booking.com is what I almost always use to book hotels. Excellent selection of hotels, great interface, usually very low prices, and no fees.
TrustedHousesitters for house sitting
House sitting is a great way to travel on the cheap — you receive free accommodation in exchange for taking care of people’s homes and pets while they’re away. TrustedHousesitters has the largest selection of all the house sitting directories, and they vet all users for safety.
G Adventures for group tours
G Adventures is the one tour provider that I’ve traveled with and recommend. They’re great for solo travelers, they keep their groups small, and they’re sustainability-minded. They have cool tours all over the world.
JayWay Travel for custom private tours in Europe
JayWay Travel builds custom tours for independent travelers in Central, Eastern, and Southern Europe. They are great for planning trips to tougher destinations, or if you want something special. I’ve worked with them in Georgia, Armenia, Azerbaijan, and Ukraine.
Airbnb Experiences for tour, and activities and cheap photo shoots
All kinds of tours and experiences by local guides. I find that they tend to have unique and enthusiastic individuals as guides, rather than big organizations. Airbnb Experiences is a great cheap alternative for photo shoots but the quality often isn’t as good as Flytographer.
GetYourGuide for tours and activities
A fabulous selection of fun tours and activities all over the world. I find that GetYourGuide tends to pick out the best stuff.
Viator for tours and activities
The greatest collection of tours around the world — food tours, day trips, transfers between cities, anything. Whatever you’re looking for, they’ve got it.
Couchsurfing for meetups
I don’t use Couchsurfing for its original purpose, cheap accommodation — instead, I use Couchsurfing to find local meetups and events in different cities.
Meetup.com for meetups
Meetup.com has meetups for everything you could possibly be interested in.
World Nomads travel insurance is great and can be 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.
Money While Traveling
Charles Schwab — if you’re American
If you’re an American who travels frequently, you should use Charles Schwab for your debit card. Almost every American I know does. They refund all ATM fees at the end of the month (including pricey international ATM fees) and they don’t charge foreign transaction fees. You’ll never search for an in-network ATM again.
Transferwise — all nationalities
You should always have a backup debit card hidden in your luggage while traveling, and if you don’t have one, I recommend opening an account with Transferwise. You can have accounts in different currencies and they are the absolute BEST for receiving international transfers. And they give you a contactless card, which is very important to have if you’re traveling Europe (many public transit systems in Europe only take contactless cards).
(For people who work online and take international payments, Transferwise is a must — roughly half of my international transfers to my Schwab account don’t go through.)
Chase Sapphire Preferred Visa
The best travel credit card for most people — big sign-up bonuses (often 100,000 points), and Chase Ultimate Rewards never expire and can be transferred into dozens of different partners’ points systems. A great starter point card before you move onto even bigger bonuses.
Other Helpful Travel Sites
Probably my favorite travel site out there — Rome2Rio shows you all the different ways to get between two cities. Especially useful in Europe.
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.
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!
I’ve been waiting for this site for years — it lists exactly where you can fly nonstop from every airport. Essential for people who want as few connections as possible.
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. 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!
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.
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.
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.
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 $10.99 per month.
Technology and Digital Resources
There used to be a debate about whether a Macbook Air or Macbook Pro worked better for digital nomads. But today, it doesn’t matter — the MacBook Pro computers are so light that they’re easy to tote around the world.
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.
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.
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 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.
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 Resources
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.
Reggio Digital Studio for web hosting (experienced bloggers)
After having worked with several hosts over the years, I’m now happy to be hosted by Reggio Digital Studio, who built a modern site for me, brought it into the present, and are invested in the long-term success of my site without price-gouging me.
BlueHost for web hosting (new bloggers)
The best choice for beginners — 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.
Mediavine for display advertising
Mediavine is a great display advertising network that cares about your long-term success.
Keysearch for keyword research
Keysearch is a great, easy resource for planning out posts to write for SEO.
ShareaSale, Commission Junction, JVZoo, and Amazon associates for affiliate marketing
My most-used affiliate networks that help make me money on the things you buy.
ConvertKit for email list
An email list is, by far, the most important thing you can have and something you should start immediately. Today the best product on the market is ConvertKit. It’s sophisticated and allows you to set up your lists with different sequences and categories — it’s essential for the world today.
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.