The hardest part about traveling isn't when you arrive to a new destination; it's figuring out how to get and stay there. We know how stressful it is to plan, research, schedule and pay for an upcoming trip, so as a couple of nuts who do this sort of thing a lot, we wanted to share our favorite resources with you that will hopefully make your next trip much easier and a lot less costly:
Before you Go:
- Fodors / Lonley Planet- Obvi I know, but these sites are great for getting a general overview of a place. Here you'll find recommendations, albeit very mainstream ones, on where and when to go, what to do and see, what to pack, and good places to stay and eat.
- Google Maps- Planning a multi-stop trip? It helps to know how close you are to other countries / places of interest. You don't want to be the person who asks for the ferry from New Zealand to Australia or the best road to Hawaii do you?
- Center for Disease Control– Once you decideon your destinations, GO HERE immediately. Legitimate, updated resource for researching vaccinations, precautions and current alerts by country. Necessary for safe, long or short-term travel, and since some vaccinationsrequire more than one dose or take weeks to fully immunize, we started this process immediately.
- BLOGS! The most honest, on-the-ground and updated information on any given place. Google blogs for your specific destination, but here are a few of our overall favorites:
- Never Ending Voyage: British couple, Simon and Erin have been on the road since 2010 and offer super helpful articles on packing, traveling light and budgeting. They created a super helpful budgeting app called Trail Wallet and Erin is writing a book on traveling with only a carry-on. Also, check out their e-book on South America.
- The Blonde Abroad: Written by Kiersten, a Cali girl with an awesome style and great photos. Tons of helpful lists and destination guides, lots of fashion tips for dressing well while traveling and packing lists for what you'll need to bring where.
- Pause the Moment: Run by Ryan Gargiulo, a long-term 'digital nomad' and influencer. Lots of video tutorials, tips and reviews. Solid tech and gear focus, great for ladies, but dudes will particularly like it!
- World of Wanderlust: Written by Brooke Saward, a 20-something full-time travel blogger and 'digital influencer', this blog will make you want to quit your day job. Fun to read, great tips, lists and inside travel info on how to, where, etc. Lots of fashion ideas and suggestions, and three books for purchase on blogging and solo travel.
- Kayak– Airline search engine that searches multiple travel companies, i.e.) Priceline, Expedia, Orbitz, etc. to find the best deal. There are many options to customize your travel plans like one-way, multi-stop, specific or surrounding airports, flexible dates, etc. We checked this several times per week to stay abreast of any deals. Got flexibility with your dates? Click the 'More' button to find the 'Explore' tab. This function allows you to see all the places you can fly from your current destination and for how much.
- AirTreks- To use this service, you must have three stops in between your departure and return city, so this only works if you're planning a multi stop adventure. They offer an awesome tool that allows you to create your itinerary on a map, selecting flight or overland option travel, and gives you a general price range for the trip (which is usually way lower than you can find yourself). Then you email the itinerary to one of their travel agents who contacts you personally to work out the specifics (time, dates in each place, etc.). There usually a few other stops you can add for no extra charge!
- Sky Scanner – This is the Kayak of Europe, but they are starting to add US destinations as well.
- Last Minute Travels.com – This website saved us considerably on a flight from Buenos Aires to Europe. We found the best priced tickets for our last-minute trip to France, and when we had to contact their customer service desk, we were very impressed with their helpful agents.
- Southwest Airlines - A MUST for all travel within the United States. Cheap flights, unparalleled flexibility with cancellations and changes, tons of flight times, and a great 'month at a glance' tool to find the cheapest dates to travel in a given month. Note: you do not get assigned a specific seat, but rather board by group and seats are first come first serve. We don't mind this, but seats together and overhead bin space can be tough to come by.
*Tip: Get an airline credit card where you earn miles for dollars spent. This is not license to go on a shopping spree and acquire loads of debt, but if instead of using checks or debit cards to pay your normal monthly bills, you use your credit card that earns miles and pay it off each month, then you actually are getting more bang (or travel!) for bucks you would have spent anyway. We chose the United MileagePlus credit card and have earned enough miles for at least two 'free' roundtrip flights per year. More on how to choose the best card for you here.
- Airbnb - Love love love this site. People list their homes, or a room in their home, and travelers can rent them by the day, week, month, etc. Tons of options, price points, accurate photos and reviews, and options in pretty much anyplace you could ever want to go. We found an artist's loft a few blocks from the Duomo in Florence for just 65$ per night!
- Work Away – We literally tell everyone about this site. Great for long-term, slow travel and cuts out your biggest expenses: accommodation and sometimes food. All you have to do is sign up as a 'Workawayer' for a negligible cost (17 Euro for a two-year subscription) and you gain access to a 'Host List' with thousands of opportunities all over the world. The 'hosts' offer accommodation, and often food, in exchange for help with a variety of tasks. We gardened in Provence for four months and blogged, cooked and cleaned in Spain for two, all the while spending nothing on accommodation and very little on food. Besides saving money, this is perfect for spending a good amount of time in places, making local friends, and contributing to the community.
- Booking.com - Our go-to resource for hotels. Great prices, no booking charges, accurate reviews, and often you pay little to nothing up from for the accommodations. And they have a great app that manages your 'bookings' in one place.
- Hostelworld– World-wide hostel network with many options in both popular and lesser known destinations. Accurate reviews and ratings, easy online booking, and only 10% of the total cost is required up front to reserve a bed (the rest is due upon arrival.) We’ve personally had great experiences with them.
*Tip: if you can fit it, pack a light tent! The US and Europe are chock-full of great campsites and facilities that are super cheap and offer an appreciation of the landscape you can't get from hotels. We camped in Beaune, France and it was one of the best experiences of our travels. Google campsites in your destination and you are sure to find quite a lot. Plus, not many things make a traveler feel more secure then having guaranteed shelter right on your back!
What to Do
- Yelp: Rating website for everything. It's a good base to start from, but beware, a lot of the reviews are paid, so go for a second opinion on...
- Trip Advisor, or again, check out: Lonely Planet / Fodors and Blogs!
- Uber - Mainly US, but expanding. They use independent drivers to offer incredible efficiency and pretty darn good pricing. Download the app and request the nearest driver and pick up time. You can choose your style of ride and know that all drivers are thoroughly interviewed and checked out before joining.
- Buquebus – Argentina. Huge, super nice bus and ferry terminal in Puerto Madero, BsAs where busses and ferries depart for Uruguay and Brazil every day. Easy booking online to all the Uruguayan and Brazillian hotspots like Punta del Este, Montevideo, and Rio. Oh, and make sure to take the fast ferry; it’s a bit more expensive, but if you’re at all uneasy at sea, it will be completely worth the up charge.
- RailEurope - Europe. Awesome site that lists all the main rail lines, prices, times and purchase options for rail travel in Europe. And by rail is the really the best, cheapest way to travel through Europe!
- Sixt Car Rental - Europe & US. We had a great experience with this company France, but they have locations all over Europe and even in the US. They offer long-term rental deals as well as off-season discounts.
- Bicing, Velo, Vilib, Capital Bike Share - Barcelona, Spain; Lyon, France; Paris, France; Washington DC, USA. Located all over the cities they service, these companies are bike sharing at its best! Grab a bike, enjoy the ride and return to another station when you're done. Charges vary by time, but most don't charge if you ride less than 30 minutes between stations.
- Trail Wallet - Made by travelers (Simon and Erin of Never Ending Voyage) for travelers to help budget while on the road.
- Uber - See above
- Booking.com - Manage your bookings from your phone!
- Kayak - Great app that works the same way the website does