Below, you’ll find some of my favorite resources for traveling cheaply, efficiently, and peacefully.
Please note that some of the following are affiliate links, meaning I get a small commission if you use them. This costs you nothing extra, and it helps support the site. I only link to resources that I actually use and trust.
- Airbnb – Ever since I began solo traveling back in 2015, Airbnb has been my site of choice for finding affordable, interesting accommodation with locals. People use Airbnb to rent rooms in their homes, whole apartments, or even entire islands. In pretty much every case I’ve found, you can get a place that’s far more affordable than a hotel while paying about the same price you would to stay at a hostel. Airbnb also takes security very seriously and is available to help you 24/7 if you have issues, giving you more protections than if you were renting directly from a local.
- Hostelworld – While Airbnb is my first choice for booking accommodation, sometimes I can’t find a place with the right mix of price and location (this happened to me when I was in Reykjavik, for example). When this happens, Hostelworld is my next choice for finding vetted hostels that fit my preferences. Hostelworld features reviews from other travelers who’ve stayed at the hostels and see lots of photos, making sure you’ll find a place that’s perfect for your budget and travel needs.
- Lyft – If I’m traveling in the US, Lyft is my go-to for getting anywhere that’s out of walking distance. I hope they’ll be adding international service in the future.
- Momondo – This flight search engine will save you hours of searching each and every airline website to find the best price on your flight. I will note that I use Momondo to find good flights, not to book them, as some of the deals they suggest come from questionable sites. For booking, I recommend going directly through the airline.
- Southwest Airlines – For flights within the United States, I’ve rarely found a cheaper option. And I love Southwest’s egalitarian approach to things like seating and snacks.
- Google Docs – As a writer, Google Docs is my platform of choice for composing drafts, collaborating with editors, and planning trips. It has all the useful parts of Microsoft Word without all the extraneous crap. Plus, everything is automatically saved to Google Drive, ensuring you won’t lose your precious plans.
- Google Sheets – I don’t use it as much as Google Docs, but it is my preferred tool for creating trip budgets and expense estimates. Works just like Excel, but without the crowded interface and features that 90% of people will never need.
- Pocket – Pocket is probably my favorite and most-used software product. It allows you to save web pages to read later. This sounds simple, but Pocket includes search, tagging, and a Google Chrome extension that make the whole process seamless. I can read saved articles offline while on a flight, and I can use the tags to create lists of material to help me plan my next trip.
- Merax Travelhouse Suitcase – I don’t always use a suitcase, but if I’m going on a long trip I find it to be helpful (especially since I end up carrying lots of books). I received this suitcase as a Christmas gift, and so far I’ve been nothing but impressed. It’s made of durable hard plastic and even includes a built-in, TSA approved lock.
- Tortuga Travel Backpack – For carry-on luggage, this is the bag to get. They’ve designed the backpack to be as large as possible while still meeting the size requirements for a variety of airlines. You can wear it as a backpack or carry it like a duffle bag, and it has plenty of compartments for all your travel gear. If you’re looking for travel inspiration, I also recommend checking out their helpful blog,
- Jansport Backpack – The Tortuga backpack is great for taking on a flight, but for daily use I prefer something smaller. I’ve had my Jansport backpack for over 8 (!) years, and it’s still going strong. After serving me for all of high school and college, I dragged it across 3 continents through wind, snow, and rain, and the contents have always stayed safe and dry.
- North Face Resolve Jacket – One of the challenges of travel is that you can’t bring your entire wardrobe with you. Especially if you’re going to be in another country for months at a time, you need clothing that will protect you in all types of weather. I bought this jacket in Belfast, Northern Ireland, after asking for a recommendation of a “warm, waterproof jacket.” Since then, it’s served me well in light summer showers and bitter driving rain. The liner is removable, allowing you to tailor the jacket to the current local temperature.
- BUFF Original Multifunctional Headwear – The North Face jacket will get you through most weather, but it can be nice to have some extra warmth for your head and neck. This is where the BUFF comes in. It’s a watch cap, scarf, bandana, balaclava, and more. It protects you from wind, sun, cold, or even sand. Plus, it’s a great conversation starter. Tip: get it in a color other than black, or you’ll look a lot like a bank robber.
- Darn Tough Socks – I do a lot of walking when I travel, so blisters are a constant issue. Darn Tough socks seriously help, providing support and absorbing sweat. If you’re traveling somewhere cold, they’re a life saver. But even in summer, the merino wool keeps them breathable and comfy. And they have a lifetime guarantee.
- Kindle Paperwhite – Whether on the train, bus, or plane, travel involves a lot of downtime. You could fill that with playing dumb games on your phone, but why not read a book instead? When every gram of weight counts, you don’t have room to drag a bunch of paperbacks along in your suitcase. The Kindle Paperwhite solves this problem, delivering a pleasing reading experience in all types of light. Plus the battery charge lasts a crazy long time, so it won’t die on you in the middle of a 14-hour flight.
- ALPS Mountaineering 1-Person Tent – This isn’t a camping/outdoors blog, but camping can be a great way to save money on accommodation no matter where you’re traveling. While you could go hardcore and just sleep in a hammock, I prefer the extra protection/sense of security that a tent provides. This is an affordable option that fits one person. I’m 6′ 1″ (185 cm) tall, so it should comfortably fit most people (or two small people who don’t mind getting very cozy).
- Nalgene Narrow Mouth Water Bottle – From jet lag to altitude sickness, many of the common ailments associated with travel are easy to avoid if you drink enough water. I’ve tried metal, glass, and soft plastic water bottles over the years, and the Nalgene is my current favorite. It’s durable, easy to clean, and even shows you how much water it contains. Plus, it fits just fine in the side pouch of the Jansport backpack.
- Audio-Technica Headphones – I have the ATH-M50 model, which I acquired for a nice discount on eBay. They’re still going strong after using them ~8 hours per day for nearly four years. Since they’re no longer available, I’ve linked to the latest model, the ATH-M50x. If those are a bit out of your budget, the ATH-M30x are comparable for about half the price.
- Swiss Army Knife – Just an all-around useful thing to have. The bottle opener on this has made me so many friends at parties. Note: when flying you definitely can’t take this in your carry-on luggage.
Money and Banking
- Discover IT – If used responsibly, credit cards can be a great way to earn things like free flights and other travel perks. If you’re looking to build your credit so you can qualify for other, fancier cards, I recommend Discover IT. If you’re traveling outside of the US, they make it super easy to notify them–just a couple clicks on their website. Not to mention, their customer service is superb, and the don’t charge foreign transaction fees.
- Charles Schwab Investor Checking – Banking can be a pain when traveling internationally. Between ATM fees and foreign transaction feeds, it often feels like banks are out of touch with travelers’ needs. Charles Schwab Investor Checking is the perfect solution to this problem. Not only do they not charge foreign transaction or out of network ATM fees, but they also reimburse ATM fees that other banks may charge you.
- Capital One 360 – For business banking, Capital One 360 is my favorite. But they’re great for travelers as well, especially with features such as (almost) infinite savings accounts. These are perfect for saving up for your next trip. And, best of all, they let you see your account and routing number from within their online system, ensuring that you don’t have to drag your checkbook around with you while you travel (because come on, who uses checks anymore?).
- Qapital – If Pocket is my favorite software product of all time, then Qapital is my favorite mobile app. They aren’t the only automated savings app in town, but they are the best. Just connect your bank account, and then decide on any number of “Triggers” to save money. It can be as basic as rounding up your purchases to the nearest dollar and saving the remainder, or as complex as saving money when it rains (seriously!). Plus, they recently unveiled a debit card for their users, which I’m also loving (and, so far, has worked just fine internationally). I really think they’re the future of banking.
- WordPress – WordPress was my introduction to the world of blogging and website creation back in 2014, and to this day it remains my favorite platform for sharing my stories and advice online. It’s super easy to use, requiring no coding knowledge. And if you have any questions, the online community surrounding the platform is bound to be able to help.
- HostGator – Of course, having a blogging platform is no good if you don’t have a place to host it. For anyone looking to create their own travel blog, I highly recommend you use HostGator to get started. It’s perfect for beginners, with plans starting at $3.95/month.
- Adobe Photoshop CC –
- Moleskine Notebook – While the notes app on your phone is fine for recording spontaneous thoughts or the amazing sights you encounter during your travels, it’s nice to have an alternative that’s more tactical and doesn’t require charging. The Moleskine Notebook is up to the task. These notebooks come in a size for every need, but what they all have in common is an elegant, durable design that makes writing in them a pleasure.
- Pilot G2 Pens – There are fancier pens on the market, but the Pilot G2 series remains my favorite. They’re cheap enough that it isn’t a disaster if I lose one (which is inevitable while traveling). But they still provide a delightful writing experience.
- MacBook Air – Depending on what you do while traveling, this computer may be overkill. As a digital nomad and writer, however, mine is indispensable. It’s fast, lightweight, and a joy to use. If you’re going to take it with you on the road, I strongly suggest that you pick up a durable case for it as well.
Thanks for reading the list. I hope you found it useful. If you’ve read this far, you’re clearly passionate about travel. To get even more travel tips, I invite you to sign up for my newsletter below.
Enter your email to get travel tips and updates!