Disclaimer: This page contains affiliate links. That means if you make a purchase using one of these links, I will receive a small commission at no extra cost to you. That being said, absolutely EVERYTHING on this page is something that I have used again and again and truly believe in. These are my top recommendations for traveling – whether it’s for a weekend away, a move to a foreign country, or a long term trip around the world. These are my favorite websites and products that keep me traveling longer.
Think of this as your travel cheat sheet. These are the companies and products I return to again and again to plan my travels, save money, get the best deals, the best accommodation, grow my business, and cause the least damage to my dwindling bank balance.
I have personally used and loved each and every company and product that I list below. If you find these reviews helpful and you plan to purchase any of these things, it would mean the world to me if you used these links.
AirBnB: I almost exclusively use AirBnB. I live in an apartment with Luke and another couple seven days a week, so when we go traveling, we want it to be the two of us. AirBnB has proven to not only be the most affordable option, but the best for our needs. We’ve used it in Australia, Japan, Mexico, and Costa Rica, and I recommend it to absolutely everyone I know. I even wrote an entire post about why I love it so much, which you can read here. Through AirBnB, I’ve met and stayed with some seriously incredible people and they always recommend all the local spots I would never have found otherwise. Use this link to get $35 off your first stay!
Trusted Housesitters: I also can’t recommend Trusted Housesitters enough. If you love animals (or even just sort of like them), house sitting is a super affordable way to travel the world. We had two incredible experiences there this year, which you can read more about in this post. We spent a month in Denmark and two weeks in central Paris. IN PARIS. All we had to do was walk the dog once a day and feed her all the kibble she desired. All it cost us was the $120 signup fee. If you use these links it’ll cost you even less than that! I’ll definitely be renewing again next year. Get 20% off of your membership with this link.
Agoda: For different parts of Asia where AirBnB isn’t always available, I recommend checking out Agoda. They have the best hotel prices for Japan, Korea (we used this a lot while traveling Korea), and most of South East Asia. If you don’t want to show up to major cities like Bangkok or Kuala Lumpur without a booking, definitely look at Agoda first. All the hotels that we stayed in while we were in Bali all those years ago were found through Agoda, too.
Booking.com: I’ve found that booking.com has been a great place to book cheap accommodation around Mexico, Europe, the US, and Australia. I use it more and more now when I want to find a special place to stay that isn’t an Airbnb place. Sometimes Booking.com actually has even cheaper options than Airbnb. More recently, I’ve discovered it’s a really great place to look for places in the US and the UK. I think I’ll probably be using it a lot more often if I can’t find a good deal on an Airbnb place.
Skyscanner: I always start with Skyscanner. I love that you can search “anywhere” or “entire month” and look for the cheapest days or destinations. I usually find flights with Skyscanner, then head to the company’s website and book directly through them.
Kiwi.com: I only recently discovered Kiwi.com and it’s a REALLY great site if you truly want to find the cheapest route. I love how it shows you nearby alternative airports that you can fly out of or into to save money. This is a backpackers dream site and I wish I’d discovered it sooner!
Google Flights: I have also recently started using Google Flights to check the rock-bottom rates before going to the airline’s website to book.
STA Travel: If you are a student, I highly recommend checking flights on STA Travel. There are always really great deals and often they have sales going on. I recommend signing up to their email list so you don’t miss out.
World Nomads: There’s only one company out there for travel insurance in my opinion. I have used World Nomads for the last six years and will continue to do so whenever we’re on the move. I like that there are different levels you can get depending on what countries you’ll be in and what activities you’ll be doing. It protects your stuff, flies you home in case of emergencies and is super easy to renew. It’s one of the cheapest out there for what is covered and regardless of what country you’re from or where you are when you apply for it, they’ll find you cover. Fingers crossed, I’ve never had to make a claim, but I know people that have and they say nothing but good things about that process.
There’s no doubt, teaching English abroad is one of the best ways to live in a different country AND save tons of money to travel. I taught English in Korea and saved over $15,000 in one single year. I loved living in Korea and although it made me realize that teaching wasn’t really for me, a lot of people love it so much they decide to teach all over the world.
myTefl: I recommend getting yourself a 100+ hour TEFL course if you think you might want to teach English abroad in any country. It’s a requirement in almost every country. The myTefl course is the one I took and recommend to others. It can be hard to differentiate between all of the TEFL courses out there since they all seem kind of the same. I like this one the most because 1) You have access to real people when you don’t understand something 2) they donate a portion of each course fee to one of two amazing educational charities, and 3) they assist with job placement as part of your course fee. Finding a trusting agency to place you in a job is KEY and I really like the people I’ve dealt with at myTEFL. They’re honest and trustworthy. Use this link and the code 35ETERN to get 35% off any course from myTEFL.
Lifestraw Water Bottle: After traveling South East Asia and seeing how much plastic we throwing away from all the water bottles (and how much money we were spending), I wanted to make sure that didn’t happen again. So before we moved to Mexico, I invested in some filter water bottles. I did tons of research and repeatedly found LifeStraw come out on top. I went for the LifeStraw Go bottle because it’s small and easy to carry around. It holds 650ml of water and filters everything from bacteria to metals out of the water. I’ve been using it for over six months (the filter is good for 1,000L) with the tap water here in Mexico City and I couldn’t be happier.
Northface Slingshot Backpack: This bag is my hero. In my opinion, I never need a bag bigger than this for a trip. Unless I’m MOVING somewhere, this is the bag I will travel the world with for all of eternity. I’ve had it since I was in high school and hid it away in a bin for several years afterwards. I found it again recently and now realize it is literally the perfect size for me. The Slingshot looks a little different now than it did when I bought it, and now I think it’s even better than the older version, is perfect, although it comes in a few different sizes.
Rainbow Flip Flops: I have climbed mountains in these things. I’ve traveled around the world, investing in a new pair about once a year and they are my favorite warm weather walking shoes. They have started making them in SUCH cute colors and patterns now, so now I really won’t ever have to buy another pair of walking shoes. They are some of the most comfortable and versatile shoes you can buy and in my opinion, Rainbows are the perfect travel shoe. I’ve even converted Luke.
The North Face Thermoball Jacket: This jacket is the best coat for travelers that I’ve ever found. It keeps you super warm and then when you don’t need it anymore, it folds up into itself and stores SO easily. I got it for Christmas this year and it was one of the best presents I’ve ever received. I wrote a whole review of the coat which you can read here. I really love how versatile it is and although I was worried because it’s so thin that it wouldn’t be that warm, it has kept me nice and toasty in places like the UK in winter. Shop the North Face Thermoball here.
Obviously, blogging keeps me on the road longer and longer these days (check out my income reports here). I use all of these companies and would recommend them to anyone looking to start a blog or turn their current one into a business. I also wrote a whole post about starting a successful blog here.
Mailchimp: Mailchimp is the first company I used to manage my email subscribers. It’s also the cheapest (it’s free for your first 2,000 subscribers). It’s very reasonably priced for those with less than 10,000 subscribers. I love how easy it is to use and create beautiful emails with and it is super simple to setup and integrate into WordPress.
Convertkit: After outgrowing my free services with Mailchimp, I decided to upgrade to a more expensive service that had more perks and more customer service. Converkit is such a great email service for medium to large bloggers. They specifically service bloggers and the blogging industry, making them really the best option. I love how easy it is to use, to send emails, to segment my readers, to create email sequences and send out one-off emails to different segments. Setting myself up with Convertkit is one of the first steps I took to take this blog to the next level business-wise and it continues to be one of the best decisions I’ve made. Sign up with Converkit here.
KeySearch: This has really changed the game for me. Before I started using Keysearch I was getting about 10-15,000 pageviews per month. Now I solidly get over 30,000 pageviews per month and I really credit that to KeySearch. It is the quickest and easiest system to use and at only $17 a month, it’s kind of a steal in my opinion. It gives you all of the information you need to make an informed decision about keywords and how well you’ll rank. Get a free month of Keysearch here.
Siteground: For hosting both my blogs, I have tried Bluehost and Hostgator (both of which I didn’t love) before finally finding Siteground. I love Siteground. I can’t rave about it enough. The customer support is absolutely amazing. They help solve any issues within minutes and in the two years that I’ve been using them. I have never once had a problem with my site being down (fingers crossed). As my sites grow in readership, Siteground makes it easy and affordable to swap to their larger plans. Read my step-by-step guide to setting up a blog with Siteground here.
We Create Courses: There are so many blogging courses out there. I know, I’ve taken tons of them. The one that I keep coming back to though, the one with the most supportive Facebook group and the creator who answers every damn email I send her, are the We Create courses by Christine of Almost Fearless. I’ve taken Building Information Products that Sell, Beyond Auto (learning to use my camera properly), and am currently working my way through the Creative Masterminds Course. They’re all brilliant and I truly feel like I’ve learned things that I can apply to my business right now. I highly recommend them.
Making Sense of Affiliate Marketing: This is one of the best courses I have taken to not only learn more about making passive income on my blog, but also to increase my traffic and produce better content. While the course is mostly meant to show you how to build up affiliate income, and it does this really well, it also shows you how to improve your traffic with Pinterest and how to create content that is both helpful and searchable. If there’s only one course you take for your blog, it should be this one.
Nikon D3300: This camera is my pride and joy. Ever since I bought it last year it has gone everywhere with me. I used the kit lens for a while and think it’s actually a pretty decent lens. The camera itself is one of the cheapest, smallest and lightest DSLR options out there which is what I was mostly sold on. But once I started using the camera more, I realized what an amazing investment it really was. I’m definitely a Nikon convert.
30mm Lens: I bought this lens for the Nikon about eight months ago and I almost never take it off the camera. It creates the perfect Bokeh (that blur behind a person that looks so beautiful) and it was really reasonably priced compared to other focal lenses. It’s the best lens for portraits and I love it for certain cityscape photos too.
10-20mm Lens: This lens has been on my wishlist for a long time and is a fantastic lens if you will be taking a lot of landscape or cityscape photography. It’s wide angle without forming that awkward fisheye look. I don’t know that I’ll ever buy another lens. Get the Nikon 10-20mm lens here.
GoPro Hero 3 Silver Edition: I know I’m like six years behind everyone, but actually, the GoPro HERO 3 remains my favorite version of GoPro. The videos are so crisp and the photos are amazing. We traveled all over Asia with it and then tragically lost it while white water rafting (I don’t recommend the helmet mount. As it turns out, it’s not so secure). I would buy this camera again and again (especially after buying a budget version and it being SO much worse). As a bonus, because it’s an older version, it’s a lot cheaper than the newer ones!
JOBY Gorillapod: This is the coolest little tripod ever. We bought it when we initially got our GoPro, but actually it’s perfect for everything. We put our phones on it, we put the Nikon on it. It holds tons of weight, is light and small enough to bring anywhere (it even fits in my purse!) and it hooks around anything. It’s truly the perfect travel tripod.
Amazon Kindle: Something about traveling brings out the book worm in all of us. Whenever I travel I get through SO many books. One every few days. It can be expensive to keep buying English language books in foreign countries (if you can even find them). Book swaps can be great, and for that reason I do still usually travel with a small paperback book. But mostly, I am glued to my Kindle. I can download new books whenever I’m on wifi, I can read it on a glarey beach or at night when the power goes out again. There are so many free books available (especially if you sign up for Prime) as well as monthly discounts that make really great new books even more affordable. You can even get guidebooks on them! I haven’t lugged around a giant Lonely Planet in years! My Kindle has truly become one of my can’t-leave-home-without-it items.
Diva Cup: I will never, ever travel without a Diva Cup. It has saved me money as well as hassle. It produces absolutely no waste like other feminine products and I never have to worry about finding a place to throw things away. I never have to go searching for tampons or wonder if a random small town in a new country is going to stock feminine products. Keep a little bottle of water and a few toilet paper squares on you all the time and you’ll be a total travel pro.
Making Extra Money (To Travel more, duh)
Ebates: This is a super simple to use website that gives you money back on purchases you were going to make anyway. I only recently discovered Ebates and whenever I buy new clothes, I do it through this site. Simply go to their website to register, then every time you’re thinking about online shopping, head here first and click to the site you want through their website. Then shop and normal and a certain percentage of your purchase will be put into your Ebates account. Then you can have it put straight into your Paypal account. It’s like one of those money back credit cards except no hassle.
UserTesting: This is one of the easiest ways to make a bit of extra dollar. In the past month I’ve earned over $100 on UserTesting, spending only a few minutes a day reviewing a website. It’s easy to get started and whenever I have a few extra minutes in my day I do one of their surveys. I felt a bit silly talking to myself at first, but it’s helpful to people starting new websites AND you get paid for it. Winning.
Swagbucks: This is another easy way to make a few extra dollars. Swagbucks allows you to fill out a few simple surveys and do a few other things to make money by basically not doing anything different to what you already do on the computer anyway. I like to use this WHILE traveling too. It requires no extra time online and I can earn enough to cover meals in South East Asia!