If you’ve planned a vacation, you know proper resources are crucial. Many details need to be considered and decided before your trek: “How will I get there? Where will I stay? Do I need travel insurance? What should I do if I break my arm?” I can answer all of those questions with these travel resources!
This is a list I’ve compiled for backpackers, family vacations, and weekend getaways. It includes flights, accommodations, vacation packages and of course, travel insurance. Be sure to reference this before your next big adventure, and if you have any favorite resources of your own, I’d love to hear what they are!
For specifics on how to save money when purchasing airfare, check out How I Book Cheap Flights.
Must-Have Travel Resources Overview
Google Flights: Google Flights is currently my go-to. I can track the flights I’m interested in, and then receive email updates when the price changes. I know this sounds pretty standard for booking sites, but Google makes it simple and the emails are straight to the point. I loathe spammy emails that include accommodation and transportation options. I asked for price updates, and that’s all I want.
The search options are also very clear and easy to navigate. I love their calendar option because it shows the price difference for each day. Again, this is the standard, but Google lacks the bells and whistles the other sites blind you with.
Skyscanner: This platform is unique because is searches worldwide for the cheapest outbound flights from your current location. So let’s say I’m feeling a bit anxious and want to get away for a few days with no preference on location. I’ll choose my local airport and then select going “everywhere.” It will then provide a list of flights in order of cheapest to most expensive. There is also an option to select the entire month if your dates are flexible. It will then tell what dates are the cheapest for your desired location. The options are endless.
Southwest: Southwest is notorious for cheap flights, great deals, and two free checked bags. If your schedule is flexible, this airline has everything you need. As I’m writing this, there is a one-way Valentine’s Day sale as follows:
From Las Vegas -> Austin $146, Denver $100, Portland $94, Seattle $86, San Diego $64, San Francisco $69
This is my favorite way to fly domestically because I have accumulated points over the years, which pays for my flights. I do this with Southwest’s Chase Rapid Rewards credit card. When I applied, I received 50,000 points because I spent $2,000 in three months. That established a good foundation of points, and I’ve been flying for free ever since!
Other benefits include two free checked bags. This saves me a minimum of $50 one-way when compared to other airlines. That alone makes Southwest my go-to. They also have recently added a handful of international flights: Mexico, Central American, & the Caribbean.
Booking.com: Let me brag on Booking.com real quick… Danial and I were in Arizona recently and found ourselves at a roadside Bates Motel meets Hills Have Eyes type establishment. After a sleepless night of bugs in our ears and black french fries, we contacted booking.com and asked if there was any way they could move our reservation (for our next location in Page, AZ) to one night early. Not only did they do that without charging us extra, but they also allowed us to cancel night two without penalty. They came in clutch and because of that, they are first on my accommodations list.
HostelWorld: If you’re traveling alone and want to meet people, HostelWorld is the way to go. As the number one website for hostel bookings, they have tons of options around the world. They also have a thorough ranking system so you’re able to get an idea of exactly what you’re paying for. For example, if I want a quiet night at a low-key, not party poppin’ hostel, I’ll look at the hostel’s atmosphere rating and read reviews specific to that. And for all my fellow cheapos, they don’t charge booking fees!
Airbnb: If you’re looking for a more authentic, local experience, definitely go with Airbnb. At this point, I think we’re all pretty familiar with their site so I’ll spare you the details. If you haven’t signed up before (or have a second email and credit card) visit Airbnb for $40 off your first trip.
Agoda: If you are traveling to Asia, this is going to be your best friend! Agoda offers accommodations for hotels, hostels, and homes mainly in Asian countries. If Airbnb is all booked up, I’ll check out Agoda to see if there are any leftover gems, and you know what!? I’ve found a few!
Allianz Travel: This the world’s largest travel insurance company and honestly the only one I’ve ever used. I sprained my ankle in Tanzania and caught malaria in Uganda, so, unfortunately, I have a bit of experience with travel insurance. They are reputable, affordable, quick to respond when needed. Don’t be a dummy. Cover yourself, medically and with your Tinder date.
World Nomads: This is definitely the most popular option among seasoned backpackers, and I assume it’s because of their affiliate program. They seem to have a great support team, and that is crucial during an emergency abroad. They also have wonderful reviews and are worth checking out when deciding on a travel insurance company. My suggestion is to compare the coverage and price of both companies and decide from there.
Rome2Rio: This is travel made easy! Rome2Rio offers transportation via car, bus, train, and boat, along with a detailed route for complete clarity. The cost and duration are also listed for a quick compression of all options. If you’re looking for someone to do leg-work for you, check out Rome2Rio when planning your next adventure.
Rentalcars.com: With countless rental car sites to choose from, Rentalcars.com makes the list because of its competitive prices and no-nonsense layout. This is normally where I find the best deals for economy cars. For example, I did a quick search for a 3-day weekend rental in Las Vegas, and a Toyota Yaris is $4 a day!
Groupon: Like Tiffany Haddish, I see no shame in a good deal. Groupon is GREAT for vacation packages, and I encourage you to check them out before committing to an a la carte approach. If you want a pain free, no-hassle getaway, choose your destination and browse around on their app. I do suggest reading the reviews thoroughly before deciding, but as long as you do your research, this is an affordable option that can’t be beaten!
Costco: Although the average price of a vacation package is a bit more with Costco when compared to Groupon, the experience seems to be far superior. From the researched I’ve done, I’ve noticed that the hotels are higher rated, more upscale and fit for a less litty crowd.
Local Sim Card: This should be your first option if your phone company tries to gouge you with international rates. Be sure to have your phone unlocked before leaving home. Depending on the country you visit, picking up a local sim card should be fairly easy, but do your research first! In order to get a SIM in Korea, you have to be a resident or hold an Alien card. Don’t screw yourself due to a lack of research.
Skyroam: If you’ve traveled internationally, you know data plans can be outrageous and connecting to local wifi is normally a big pain. Skyroam is a mobile hotspot that keeps you connected during your travels. Although this is handy, there is a lot of preplanning that goes into this option before leaving your home country. It also needs to be charged daily and is one extra item you need to carry around. This is not my favorite option. I did something similar during my year in Korea, and it was a pain, but it worked!
Quick story: During my first month in Korea, I was walking alone at 2 am (post-club), and two young men grabbed me and started dragging me in the opposite direction of where I was heading. Eventually, I got away, and I had to RUN around with my WiFi settings open in hopes of connecting. After what seemed like forever I was able to connect and called a friend and cried my cheap little eyes out. I should have been prepared, y’all. Don’t be me.