Wondering what sites I use to search for flights or book hotel rooms? Curious about what tools I use to run this site? Below you can find some of my favorite travel-related resources.
NOTE: I always suggest searching for flights and hotels in an incognito browser window. (If you're using Chrome as your browser, simply go to File > New Incognito Window.) This ensures that the site isn't saving any information (cookies) about your searches, and therefore means that you'll actually see the best deals!
Booking flights can be a huge pain! I HATE agonizing over flight prices and connections and the tiny, tiny seats — but these sites should help you find the best deals:
— I often turn to Skyscanner when I'm looking for flight options. It searches a TON of airlines, and I've found some great deals using it (especially when looking for flights within Europe). I also really like the “Everywhere” search. Using this, you can choose your departure city, but then just choose “Everywhere” as your destination. The site then shows you where in the world you can fly for the least amount of money.
— Kayak is another of my go-to sites when I'm looking for flight deals. It's very easy to use, and you can set price alerts if you're keeping your eye on a specific fare. On certain routes, Kayak also will show you the price trend on that route, and will tell you whether you should buy now or wait. Similar to Skyscanner's “Everywhere” search, Kayak has an “Explore” option where you choose your departure city and the month you'd like to travel, and Kayak shows you flight prices for destinations all over the world.
— This is another one of my favorite search sites. Momondo's flight search is great because you get results sorted either by ticket or by timetable, and they also show you which flights are cheapest and which are quickest. Momondo also has a fun search function called Trip Finder. Using this, you can define the type of trip you're looking for, your ideal weather, your budget, and even what mood you'd like to experience. Then the site gives you some suggestions.
NOTE: While I usually search for flights on one or two of these sites in the planning stage of my trips, I try to book flights directly with the airline whenever possible. If something goes wrong with a flight or connection, the last thing you want is for the airline to claim no responsibility because you booked through a third-party site. (I know people who have run into this issue when booking with sites like Expedia and Priceline — it doesn't happen often, but it CAN happen, especially if a site places you on multiple airlines in order to get the lowest price.)
— Over the years, I have become a big fan of Booking.com. I like the information the booking site offers, and also the wealth of helpful reviews (which can only be left by someone who has actually stayed at the hotel). I also like that you get lots of options when booking rooms here — including options that include breakfast, and/or booking options that allow for free cancelation or the ability to pay later. If you write reviews after a stay, you can also earn “Genius” status, which unlocks more Booking discounts.
— Trivago is another great site to keep in mind when you're searching for a hotel. Trivago isn't actually a booking
site, though. It actually will search 262 OTHER booking sites and show you the results and best prices all in one place. You can then scroll through, add filters to your search using the options in the lefthand sidebar, add hotels to the “compare” bar on the righthand side of the page, and then click over to whatever booking site has the best price once you're actually ready to book. If you want to search a lot of the most popular hotel booking sites at once, Trivago is your best bet.
— You should always take TripAdvisor reviews with a grain of salt because literally anyone can hop over to the site and review a property. BUT, I won't lie: I still tend to go check TripAdvisor once I've already decided
on one or two hotels I'm interested in. As long as the TA reviews aren't horrible, then I usually feel confident with my choice(s).
RELATED: Check out my personal recommendations for where to stay in cities around the world.
BOOKING OTHER ACCOMMODATION
— My go-to when it comes to booking hostels has always been Hostelworld (though, now that they've merged with Hostelbookers.com
, I would recommend them, too). Both of these sites offer a really comprehensive listing of hostels in a ton of cities around the world, complete with reviews and other useful information.
— Hotels and hostels definitely are not the only accommodation option to use when you're traveling. Sometimes, renting an apartment can be the best option — especially if you're staying in a city for a long amount of time, or if you really want to get a “local” feel for a neighborhood. I've used Airbnb to book full apartments and private rooms in cities all around the world.
(PS – If you head over to AirBnB through this link, you can claim free credit!)
— If you're looking for a really “local” experience, consider looking into a homestay, i.e. staying with a local person/family in their home. I tried this out in Dublin, Ireland, and really enjoyed it. This is a great option for a solo traveler, or someone new to traveling.
The following tour companies are ones that I support and recommend:
– I've traveled quite a few times
with this adventure tour company. I love their small groups, local guides, and dedication to sustainable, responsible tourism. They have tours literally all over the world, and they are the first tour company I recommend to people.
Wandering Earl Tours
– Fellow travel blogger Derek “Earl” Baron has been successfully running tours to some of the world's more remote and exotic corners for a couple of years now. Whether you want to explore India, Mexico, Romania, or somewhere more adventurous like Iran, these tours are worth checking out!
– When it comes to day trips and walking tours, Urban Adventures (a sister company of Intrepid) is one of my favorites. Their tours always employ local guides and get you really deep into the culture and vibe of a place.
I definitely believe in travel insurance – you never know when you might lose your luggage or have some sort of accident on the road. And that old “better safe than sorry” saying really does apply here. I recommend World Nomads for travel insurance because they cover all the important stuff for a really affordable rate.
GETTING TRAVEL DEALS
Everyone wants to save some money on travel, right? Here are a few newsletters I subscribe to for great deals:
TravelZoo — This deal site is always full of goodies, from flight deals to cheap vacation packages. I'm signed up for the Top 20 newsletter, which collects and sends out the best travel deals once a week.
Living Social Escapes — Living Social is good to follow for all kinds of deals, but I especially like checking out their “Escapes” section every once in a while. I'm told Groupon often has similar deals.
Get airfare alerts — I'm also signed up to get airfare alerts from my home airport through Hipmunk. You can also get some great fare alerts from Airfare Watchdog, search for current flight deals at The Flight Deal, and check Secret Flying regularly for sales and error fares.
I have a whole separate Packing Page where I lay out all my favorite travel gear.
Here are some of the tools I use to keep this site running!
MailChimp — I use MailChimp for my newsletter, as well as sending weekly blog summaries to my subscribers. There are plenty of email services out there to choose from, but I like how easy MailChimp is to use.
SmugMug — When it comes to photo storage (and just creating a nice portfolio of images), I really like SmugMug. I host most of my photos either on SmugMug or Flickr, and then insert them into my blog posts using html code. You can also buy prints of my photos on SmugMug.
CoSchedule — When it comes to social sharing, CoSchedule is a tool I couldn't live without. I use it to schedule 4-6 social media shares of all my new blog posts, and also rely on its handy editorial calendar to plot out what I'll be publishing and when.
Bluehost — If you're just starting out with a self-hosted blog and don't want to shell out a ton of money for web hosting, check out Bluehost. I used Bluehost to host my site for the first nearly 6 years, and only moved when I started getting too much traffic for them to handle.
Synthesis — Once my site outgrew Bluehost for hosting, I switched over to Synthesis, which is WordPress-specific hosting. The transition was pretty painless, and I was very happy with the service. Synthesis IS more expensive, but it was worth it to me to know that my site was going to be up 99.9% of the time.
Performance Foundry — While I highly recommend Synthesis, I've since moved on to Performance Foundry's managed WordPress hosting. These folks come from both a tech and travel blogging background, so I know they know their stuff. This is the most I've ever paid for hosting, but I know that if anything goes wrong/needs updating, Performance Foundry will just handle it for me. Talk about peace of mind!
*Note: Some of the links on this page are affiliate links, meaning if you book/buy something after clicking, I may get a small percentage of the sale at no extra cost to you. This is a great way for you to support my site by doing something you were going to do anyway!