Travel Resources

This page does contain affiliate links, meaning if you buy/book something through one of my links, I may earn a small commission (at no extra cost to you, of course!).

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. And yes, these are all sites/companies that I personally use and recommend!

TIP: 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

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:

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Skyscanner.com — 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.

Skyscanner also has a free app you can use to search for flights on your phone. Download the Skyscanner app for iOS or for Android.

Kayak.com — 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.

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.)

BOOKING HOTELS

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Booking.com — 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.com — Trivago isn't actually a booking site, but it's still a great tool for your accommodation search. When you do a search on Trivago, it actually searches 262 OTHER booking sites and shows you the results and best prices all in one place. You can then scroll through, add filters to your search, add hotels to the “compare” bar, 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.

TripAdvisor.com — 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

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Hostelworld.com — 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.

AirBnB — 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!)

Homestay.com — 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.

TOUR COMPANIES

The following tour companies are ones that I support and recommend:

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Urban Adventures
Intrepid Travel – 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.

Viator – For day trips AND multi-day tours, I often turn to Viator. This site has thousands of tours in all corners of the globe, from sightseeing to food to cultural experiences. Sometimes I go check out the Viator page for a new destination just to get an idea of what there is to do there, even if I'm not planning to book any tours.

Urban Adventures – 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.

MISC. TRAVEL

RentalCars.com – Similar to some of the other travel search sites listed here, RentalCars.com allows you to search multiple rental car offers from brands like Hertz, Avis, Enterprise, and more in order to find the best deal. They provide cars at over 53,000 locations worldwide.

Skyroam – Staying connected while you travel is easier now than it's ever been. If you'd like to have wifi in your pocket just about anywhere in the world, check out Skyroam. These portable wifi devices are SIM-free, have a long battery life, and allow you to only pay for the data you use. Save 10% on your Skyroam with the code ADBSKYROAM.

Nord VPN – When you travel, you're probably connecting to all sorts of different wifi networks. Most of these are free and unsecure, meaning any info you're entering is not private and can be vulnerable. If you want to protect your information online when you travel, the easiest thing to do is to get a VPN, or Virtual Private Network. This helps you encrypt your online activity and keep your info safe from hackers and other nosy people. Nord VPN is one of the best VPNs in the world, and the one I recommend.

TRAVEL INSURANCE

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 EscapesLiving Social is good to follow for all kinds of deals, but I especially like checking out their “Escapes” section every once in a while. Groupon often has similar deals, too.

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.

TRAVEL GEAR

I have a whole separate Packing Page where I lay out all my favorite travel gear.

TRAVEL BLOGGING

Here are some of the tools I use to keep this site running!

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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.

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.

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.

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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!

 

 

34 Comments on “Travel Resources

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  1. Hi,
    I was wondering if we could exchange links
    We are a family who left England in November 2008 and set off with round the world tickets to escape a failing business and failing health – We are now living in Malaysia and continue to travel.

    Our Site is: A Big Adventure, (4 Tickets, 1 Year, No Plan and More) – http://www.worldtravelgapyear.com/ check it out if you have a minute.

    If you do add us, drop me a line and I promise I will add your site within 24hrs!

    regards

    Alan & Sofia

    could you include this link its website that offers volunteer programs in third world country
    Volunteer Capital Centre provides quality and affordable volunteer abroad work programs and opportunities in third world countries

    Really nice blog, I appreciated reding some of your travel articles. It’s really informative, and that’s what I contact you.

    Atucally, I’m managing a meta-blog about Luxury Travel around the world : http://www.oneluxurytravel.com/

    I read some of your articles about Italy and New Zealand carefully and your content can be really useful for my readers looking for luxury travel news, tips and activities around the world! they are both luxury destinations.
    In consequence, I decided to select your blog!

    I would like to know if you would be interested to appear on my web portal? It will increase your visibility on internet, increase your visits, and provide good information for my users.
    Send me an email at greenty.com@gmail.com and I will try to answer within 24h.

    Good job again !

    Alexandra

    Hey Amanda, I just stumbled on your blog recently and I think it’s sweet. You’re a really good writer and seem like a really cool girl. I was wondering if you wanted to exchange links with me? I’m a new comer to the travel blogging scene but I really want to get into it. Also, if you have any advice, I would really appreciate it. Thanks,
    Safe travels, Leif

      Thanks for the nice compliments, Leif! I’d be happy to exchange links with you. And I’ll shoot you an e-mail, too!

    Hi Amanda,

    I hope all is well over at the DB blog!!

    I wanted to stop by and let you know you receive the honour of being my first blogroll link on my new travel blog i have set up.

    It would be great if you could add me to your blog exchange – i would appreciate the help.

    Many thanks

    Duncan

    So many awesome new bloggers to follow. Where will I find the time. Thanks for your suggestions Amanda!

    Hey Amanda,

    Looks like you’re doing some cool things. Great inspiration. Wondering if you would be interested in an exchange of Links.

    http://www.joyfulleisure.com

    Take a look and let me know what you think.

    Cheers,
    Caitlin

      Hey Caitlin! Shoot me an email and I’ll add your site to my list! (I update it usually once a month with all the link requests I get.)

    Hi Amanda,
    I stumbled on your blog somehow and I’ve spent the last hour at work going through so many of your posts and awesome advice regarding travel blogging! As I’m constantly trying to do more traveling while working, it’s great to read that you make travel your #1 priority and manage many adventures, but do not travel blog full-time. Thanks for writing such amazing content. I have an amateur question to which I can’t seem to find an answer. A lot of people are writing that they would like to “exchange links”. Does this just mean permission to feature each others’ website links on the other’s site? Do you keep a list of blogs you follow on your website somewhere? Thanks so much!
    Ricky

      Hey Ricky! It’s a good question! And yes, a link exchange usually just means you put my link somewhere on your site, and I’ll put yours on mine. Many bloggers have a “blog roll” or page where they list other blog links. I used to have a page like that, but I got rid of it because it was too hard to keep updated – travel blogs unfortunately come and go quite frequently! You’ll also get people asking for link exchanges who are secretly trying to get a link to a commercial travel site. And you should never give away those links for free!

    Awesome, thanks for the response! I can imagine that a blog roll would be a challenge to update. Just reading the comments, I was thinking, “wherever this list is located, it must be huge!” And thanks for the tip about links to commercial travel sites. Good to know 🙂

    Hi Amanda,

    I’ve read your blog for a little while now, I love your writing, and your personality. You really have an approachable style. (plus a solid knowledge of Tolkien)

    This page in particular is really useful, though I’m wondering what resources / links / tools you have for finding out if you need a visa or something to that effect when visiting a particular country.

    Also, do you do much research before visiting a new country or try to experience it in the moment. If you prep, what do you find is the best source of information?

    Alex.

      When it comes to visa and vaccination requirements, I usually just turn to government sites since I know they always have the most up-ti-date info for Americans. (So usually travel.state.gov for visa questions, and the CDC for required vaccines.)

      And the research I do before going to a new country is usually just done through Google or other travel blogs!

    Are these the best sites to find trips and buy trips?

      These are all the ones I personally use!

    This page in particular is really useful, though I’m wondering what resources / links / tools you have for finding out if you need a visa or something to that effect when visiting a particular country.

      I just use the US government’s travel.state.gov to look up visa requirements – but what site people use totally depends on which country they’re from!

    Are these the best sites to buy trips and find trips?

      These are all the sites I personally use and recommend.

    Great tip on searching for flights and hotels, I never considered switching Chrome to the Incognito Window. The problem with carrying out a search before you look for the best deals is that Google already knows what site’s you’ve just visited.

      Some people say incognito searching doesn’t actually change prices or anything… but I kind of feel like it can’t hurt!

    Wow, great resources here Amanda. I’ll have to check out CoSchedule as this looks interesting. FYI – Your Bluehost signup button doesn’t appear to be working.

      CoSchedule is definitely a very useful tool! And thanks for the heads up on that link – I’ll fix it!

    Hi Amanda!

    I enjoyed your blog very much and am planning a similar trip in about a year. I was wondering, since I’m not in the greatest shape, how strenuous were the hikes in Zion? I don’t want to take any chances.

    Susan

      Hi Susan. The Angels Landing hike is VERY strenuous. Some of the other shorter hikes are easy, though, like the walk to the Emerald Pools and the trail that goes along the river. I would consult Zion’s hiking guide, which lists not only trail lengths and elevation gains, but also classifies hikes from easy to strenuous.