Recommended Resources for Travel
I started travelling 30 years ago. I started doing multi-month backpacking trips to travel the world. These days I am more settled, but I am still on the road a lot. Global travel is my lifelong passion and I manage a few business travel trips and at least two vacation trips a year.
Planning a trip involves a lot of decisions and a lot of resources. Throughout my travels, there have been resources that I have used to make it easy (and possible). Of course, it is much easier these days with the Internet!
Here are my top travel recommended resources to use when planning your trip.
Please note that some of the links below may be affiliate links. At no additional cost to you I earn a small commission if you make a purchase. Read my Disclaimer for more information. If you have any questions or have other resources you love, please comment below.
TO BOOK FLIGHTS
Like most aggregate booking sites, Skyscanner searches thousands of flights and airlines, including budget airlines for cheap flights.
I have checked prices for the three here against more well-known sites like Expedia, and these three consistently have cheapest airline fares for the exact same flights. Which one is the cheapest varies between these three for different flights, so I like to check them all and save a few dollars.
Check prices on Skyscanner here
Air travel is often one of your biggest expenses when you travel, so it’s worth shopping around. Momondo is another website that has cheap airline tickets at lower prices than the more famous sites. It also searches thousands of airline flights (again including many smaller, cheaper carriers) for the top travel deals on cheap plane tickets. There is an easy-to-navigate schedule you can click on to compare prices for different dates.
Search flights on Momondo here
TO BOOK TOURS AND ACTIVITIES
I prefer to travel independently and arrange my vacations myself, rather than go on organized tour for the whole trip. Short tours and activities are another story though.
I am all about experiential travel and love having opportunities to meet local people and interact with the culture. The easiest way to do that is to take short adventure tours, classes and workshops, food tours, wine tours, cultural and theme tours, sailing and water tours and even air, helicopter and balloon tours.
Viator is one of the leading travel sites and has a huge selection of tours and activities. I have had great experiences with them in many different countries. (They also have sightseeing tours, which I tend not to do, but they are a way to get lots of interesting info easily.)
I have sailed around glaciers, taken food tours, learned to cook empanadas and much more with Viator.
Check out different experiences available with Viator here
My other main go-to booking site is Get Your Guide. They have awesome experiences like learning to cook pasta in Rome, wine and cheese tasting workshops in Paris and tango lessons in Buenos Aires.
Many people think that booking through a company like Get Your Guide is more expensive than booking directly – it is not. They are the same price or cheaper. Plus, because they are worldwide, they have a reputation to maintain, so you know that the experiences you book are pre-vetted to include the best tours and travel. They also make it easy to book tours online.
Book tours and travel activities with Get Your Guide here
Klook is another company that offers tours with unique experiences at often discounted prices. If you are wondering what to do in your destination, this is a great place to start.
Klook tends to specialize in Asian destinations, but also has activities in Europe, North America, Africa and Australasia. In addition to excursion tours and activities, they also sell travel passes such as the JR pass (which you can buy here).
Check out activities on Klook here
TO BOOK TRAINS AND BUSES
I love train travel – you can get up and walk around, but your still get to see the scenery, rather than flying over it. Rail travel can sometimes be expensive, but trains are actually a great way to travel Europe cheap if you book your ticket right. Enter the Eurail pass.
There are several options depending on how long you will be traveling for, how many countries you will travel through, etc.
Check prices on Eurail here
If you don’t want to buy a rail pass, but just one (or a few) specific journeys, then Omio makes this simple. I use Omio to buy train tickets for Europe before I leave. This way, I don’t need to spend ages lining up to buy tickets when I am on vacation.
Omio is easy to use, and there is an explanation in English of how to read your ticket.
Buy Europe train tickets on Omio here
Buses are cheaper than renting a car and taking the train and often go more places than trains. When I was a budget backpacker, I used buses a LOT. Having a site that you can use to book buses, trains and ferries makes planning your trip so much easier!
Book Away has trips on most continents that you book as a one-stop shop.
Check routes and prices on Book Away here
TO BOOK ACCOMMODATION
This is the first place I look for accommodation. I tend to avoid chain hotels and look for places with character that will provide a more local experience.
I used to try to book directly with hotels and B&Bs, but when I was in India I discovered that if a place had double booked a room, they gave precedent to the person who had booked through Booking.com. They didn’t want to upset the booking agency because of all the future business that could be affected. So now I always use a booking website. The prices are also often cheaper.
Booking.com is really easy to use with different filters based on price, location, quality and type. They have a huge selection (over 1 million properties around the world) including apartments. They also have free cancellation and price guarantees. You can communicate directly with a property through the Booking.com system, which I have done many times and found it very helpful.
Check prices and availability on Booking.com here
If I can’t find exactly what I’m looking for; or if somewhere I want to go is full; or if I just want to compare prices (which I like to do), I check out Agoda. I have found that sometimes there is no availability on one booking site, but then when I check another, they do have availability.
Hotels often have certain allotments with different booking sites, so just because one site shows they are full doesn’t necessarily mean that they have no rooms. It’s always worth checking.
Agoda is a simple to use booking site with hotels, hostels and apartments. They also have flights and airport transfers.
Check accommodations on Agoda here
Staying in a house or apartment or a cabin in the woods or even a yurt can be a wonderful part of your national parks vacation. These days, many hotels, lodges and resorts also put their rooms on VRBO often at a slight discount from their regulars rates.
It’s easy to set up an account and then filter by location, type, amenities, etc. Enhanced cleaning is a priority.
Search for a place to stay on VRBO here
TRAVEL GEAR AND TRAVEL ACCESSORIES
I have been using Lonely Planet guidebooks for thirty years for essential travel information. I have used them for all seven continents and have found them invaluable. Of course, it’s always good to have other experiences other than those just listed in guide books, but they do provide essential travel info for how to get to places, how to get around, where to stay, places to eat, and things to see and do.
They also have other books to inspire and enjoy, but their guidebooks are the classic go-to’s when planning and getting around.
Browse the Lonely Planet shop here
I actually live a 10-minute walk from a huge REI store in Manhattan, so I do most of my shopping there in person, but even then, they have some things online that are not in-store. I love REI. They have so much great travel gear for hiking, adventure sports and camping, and I love their mission and belief in getting into the great outdoors and taking care of our planet.
Check out the gear at REI here
I use Amazon a lot because of the incredible range of things they sell. I live in NYC where you can, in theory, buy almost anything, but this is not always easy. The first time I looked for a voltage converter, I found myself schlepping around the streets of Manhattan from one store to another trying to find exactly what I wanted. In the end, I looked on Amazon and found it almost immediately. So, Amazon is a great resource for travel gear, accessories and books.
Find what you need for next trip on Amazon here
My go-to insurance is Travelex – it’s easy to buy and use; there are different (and adequate) levels of coverage (including coverage for so-called ‘adventure activities’); and they have 24-hour assistance.
You can compare Travel Insurance plans here.
Depending on the destination, renting a car and driving around is the best way to go. Having a car gives you more flexibility to get off the beaten path and stop whenever and wherever you want. I have driven around Italy, Patagonia and the United States and wouldn’t have had it any other way.
Prices for car rental can vary widely, so I like to use rentalcars.com because it shows me prices for all of the companies together. That way, I can easily rent a car at the cheapest price available.
Check prices on rental cars at rentalcars.com here