MY ULTIMATE LIST OF TRAVEL RESOURCES
Travel resources make the world go round’. Heck, if it wasn’t for the resources I had stumbled upon prior to my first solo trip, I’m not sure where I’d be right now.
In order to pass on the good karma, I’ve decided to create this big ol’ list of travel resources that I’m sure you’ll find useful.
Below, you’ll find an extensive list of websites, services and tools that I personally use and highly recommend that you check out. These tools will help you plan your next trip, save you money and possibly even help you avoid a travel breakdown along the way.
From accommodations, to flights, transportation, trip planning, travel insurance and more, I’ve got you covered.
Note: This list is updated often, so please be sure to check back soon.
This is my number one hotel booking engine for both domestic and international reservations. I’ve been using these guys for a couple years now and I’ve yet to run into any issues. The best part about them is that when you book your stay, you don’t have to pay until you check into your accommodations. Another bonus is their “Free Cancellation Fees” which covers you if you have to cancel your reservation at the last minute.
If you’re looking to find a cheap, clean hostel for your upcoming trip, be sure to book your stay via Hostelworld. Hostel World offers a selection of over 30,000 properties in over 180 countries across the globe which means you should have no issue finding an affordable hostel.
If you’re planning on staying in a destination for more than a few days it’s usually more affordable to rent an apartment than it is to rent a hotel room. Nowadays, I prefer staying in apartments when I travel. Not to say I don’t stay in hotels anymore, I do from time to time. There’s just nothing like coming back home to a private, fully equipped apartment after a long day of exploring.
Hotel Tonight is a smartphone app that offers up the best last minute hotel deals in destinations across the globe. This app is only for last minute stays so if you’re one who loves to plan your trip well in advance, you probably will find this app to be of no use to you.
I can be a spontaneous traveler from time to time and I find that HotelTonight is best for road trips, bicycle touring, backpackers, and travelers who are looking to find a great deal on a higher end hotel. It’s also great for those who have no issue showing up in a destination with no reservations.
Watch this video tutorial for $25 off your first stay.
If you’re looking to spend anywhere from a few weeks to a few months in a destination, I suggest you keep an eye out for a housesitting gig over on Trusted Housesitters. I have yet to find a housesitting gig that suited my needs as far as dates go, but I’m always keeping tabs on the latest housesitting opportunities.
If you sign up using the link above, you’ll get 15% off your membership! Think of it this way, if you were to find yourself a housesitting gig and you didn’t have to pay rent for a month or two, your membership will have paid for itself 10+ times over.
In my opinion, CouchSurfing is hands down one of the best ways to get an insider’s look at the local side of things in a specific destination. It’s also a great way to make friends along the way. I have made so many great friends through the Couchsurfing network, many of whom I still keep in touch with to this day.
If you’ve got a long layover or a flight that leaves you with no other option than to spend the night at the airport, you’re going to want to be sure to check this site out. The airport guides found on this site are seriously comprehensive and cover everything from lounge information, Wi-Fi availability, ATM locations, dining options and so much more.
This is my number one, go-to flight search tool these days. I can’t get enough of the flexible calendar feature which allows you to see prices for an entire month.
Skyscanner is another great site to use when researching flight prices. I really love some of the search features, like being able to search for flights using the “Whole Month” filter, searching flights from your departure city to “Everywhere” to find the cheapest destinations to visit and more. I use Skyscanner in combination with Google Flights and Kayak and I usually end up stumbling upon some really good deals.
As I mentioned above, Kayak is on my list of top 3 flight search engines. I particularly enjoy features such as being able to set up price alerts to find the cheapest flights, the Explore tool, and the Flexible Date Search (+3/-3 days, flex month).
WhichBudget is an excellent resource that helps you search out the cheapest airline carriers to and from your specified destinations. Plug in your dates, departure/destination airport and find out which budget airlines fly that particluar route.
The Flight Deal is a daily blog that highlights the cheapest domestic and international flights from 12 major U.S. hubs, including: BOS, NYC, PHL, DC, MIA, DFW, PHX, LAX, SFO, PDX, SEA and ORD. If you want the heads up on the latest and greatest flight deals, add this website to your RSS feed reader and be sure to follow them on Twitter.
Airfare Watchdog is a great site to follow for some of the best deals on domestic airfares. These guys are also known to publish killer mistake fares from time to time so be sure to keep a close eye on them by following them on Twitter.
Flynous is one of my favorite blogs when it comes to finding the best flight deals from Europe to destinations all across the globe. These guys post up some pretty awesome deals from time to time.
FlyerTalk is the world’s number one frequent flyer community and is home to the largest frequent flyer forum on the web. If you’re a newbie to the whloe frequent flyer world, you might find it all a bit confusing at first. Dive into the FF world and you’ll find some really great threads that could potentially save you lots of money.
The Seat Guru is the ultimate resource for information in regards to all of your flight needs such as information about your plane, seating charts, in-flight amenities, and more. If you’re wanting to know the inside scoop on choosing the best seats on your next flight, be sure to check out Seat Guru.
Uber is quickly becoming an obsession for me. Ever since my first Uber ride in Denver, I’ve been hooked. I guess I just love the simplicity of the service more than anything else. It doesn’t get any easier than opening the app on your smartphone and requesting the nearest driver. No more waiting around for a smelly taxi with a driver who could care less about where you need to go. With Uber comes comfort, cleanliness and a great conversation approximately 99.9% of the time. Best of all, with Uber, you’re getting from point A to point B for 30-40% less than your standard taxi far (on average).
Learn more about how you can get your first uber ride free OR simply go ahead and enter Uber promo code: UBERPTM for a free ride up to $20.
Learn how you can use your free Uber ride credits internationally here.
If you’re looking to score a great deal on a rental car in the United States, Costco Travel is the first place you should look. Believe it or not, Costco does a great job of comparing the daily, weekly and monthly rates of four major rental car companies (Alamo, Avis, Budget and Enterprise) in order to find you the best deal.
One thing I’d like to mention is that while this site compares the rates of these four major car rental companies, my recommendation is that you book your rental with Alamo when possible. Why? Well, I’ve had nothing but great experiences with Alamo and their prices always seem to be the lowest I can find. Oh, and their customer support is pretty awesome as well.
Note: Even if you don’t have a Costco membership, this site is a great way to gauge what your rental car should cost.
Seat 61 is the #1 resource on the web for those of you who are interested in traveling by train. Whether you’re interested in train travel through the UK, Europe, Africa, the Middle East, Asia, Australia and more, Mark Smith of Seat 61 has you covered.
UrbanRail is the most comprehensive site on the web for learning about metro systems, subways, trams and other variations of rail transit systems around the world. This site is an incredibly detailed resource which is home to just about every subway and rail map for every major city on the planet.
Cruise Sheet is the #1 resource on the web for finding the best deals on cruises. Many travel hackers use this site as a resource to find one-way cruises, also known as repositioning cruises. I’ve spotted some incredible deals on this site. Keep your eyes peeled and check back often because the deals don’t last long.
Skype is one of my favorite tools to use when it comes to keeping in touch with my family and friends. Sure, you can email, text and send audio messages through apps such as FB Messenger, Viber or Whatsapp but there’s nothing like being face to face via webcam with your family or your loved ones.
If you’re interested in staying connected no matter where you are in the world, you’re going to need to carry an unlocked smartphone with you when you travel. The benefits of having an unlocked phone is that you can purchase sim cards from mobile phone providers in just about any country in the world and you can use your phone to make calls locally or simply use a data package (like I do) to keep in touch with family and friends via text, email or software and apps such as Skype, Whatsapp, Viber and more. The SIM Card Wiki link above is the best resource I’ve come across on the web when it comes to finding out which sim card will fit your needs based on the country you’ll be visiting.
RESEARCH & PLANNING
Wikitravel is a crowdsourced travel guide that has proven to be an incredible resource for me when it comes to researching new destinations. Like Wikipedia, there are contributers known as “Wikitravellers”. These guys do a great job keeping the destination guide as up to date as possible. This has been my number one go-to destination research site over the course of the last few years.
An excellent resource for those of you trying to figure out the best way to get from point A to point B using all forms of transportation including flights, buses, trains, ferries, public transport and more. I can’t say enough about this site. Love it, love it, love it!
New to Rome2Rio? If so, click here to learn how I use Rome2Rio to plan my travels.
The forums over at TripAdvisor can be a great resource for those of you who have questions about a specific destination, hotel, activity and more.
Travelfish is the #1 resource for travel in Southeast Asia. Destination coverage includes: Burma, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Singapore, Thailand, and Vietnam.
An awesome resource for those of you who are heading to Thailand and Laos. This site creates really cool and highly detailed maps of places in the central Mekong River region.
World Nomads travel insurance is the trusted insurance of many travelers and fellow travel bloggers out there. One of their biggest draws is that they offer very affordable and flexible insurance coverage. I had a six month policy with them back in 2008 when I took my first solo backpacking trip through Europe. Fortunately, I never had to make a claim during that period of time but it was nice to know that I had the coverage to back me up. These days, I take the risk and travel without it. That being said, I recommend you check out the plans available and weigh out your options.
HEALTH & SAFETY
The US Department of State Bureau of Consular Affairs is a great resource for those who are looking for more information about destinations across the globe. The treasure trove of information found on Travel.State.Gov includes things such as passport and visa requirements, vaccination information, embassy and consulate contact information, travel warnings, destination facts and more.
While the U.S. State Department does an excellent job with keeping up to date with current events the safety of destinations across the globe, I would recommend that you do additional research before taking their travel warnings to heart. I’m not discounting their efforts to keep American citizens safe, but some of the travel warnings they issue can be grossly exaggerated. Your best bet would be to reach out to people on the ground to find out what the real story is. At the end of the day, the government is doing a great job on keeping American citizens up to date and they’re just trying to cover their own ass in case you end up finding yourself in a sticky situation.
Curious to know which vaccinations you need for your next big trip? Head on over to the official CDC Website (Center for Disease Control and Prevention) to find out more information about vaccinations, important travel notices and warnings, and so much more.
I’m not here to tell you about BrokerFish’s international health insurance offerings, simply for the fact that I’ve never actually used their services. Instead, I’d like to share with you a great little emergency travel resource which I think you’ll find super helpful.
Click on the BrokerFish link above and simply enter the name of the country you’re planning on visiting. Within seconds you’re prompted a FREE wallet-sized emergency card (in PDF format) which you can print out from the comforts of your own home. These handy little emergency cards include important phone numbers and local contact details for police, ambulance, fire, poison, taxi, airport, rail, immigration, tourism board, lost and found, electrical, water and gas services, and more.
BF currently offers emergency cards for 43 countries and counting. Head on over there now to see if they have an emergency card available for your next destination.