Resources & Tips

In order to travel more and get value for your money, you need good travel resources. This page lists the products and services I personally use to find the best travel deals. Here I also answer some of your most frequently asked questions to help you plan your next trip.

» My Travel Guides – Check out my city guides on my ‘Destinations’ page! Otherwise, scroll up to the top of this page to see a list of all my travel tips and scroll down to see my recommended travel activities.

» Lonely Planet – You can never go wrong with Lonely Planet. It has a LOT of destination guides available that are written by their experts. Purchase one of their books or PDF guides today!

» Trip Advisor – As we all know, this is a great website for checking out the best ‘To Do Lists’ in any destination, and this is mainly due to all the unbiased reviews of its users.

» Agoda + Expedia.com Booking.com + HotelsCombined – Agoda for Asia, Expedia.om and Booking.com for Europe, HotelsCombined for the rest of the world. These 4 have low-budget places to extravagant accommodations in unbeatable prices!

» HostelWorld – If you’re on a budget, this has the best collection of hostels worldwide.

» AirBnB – The greatest platform for short and long-term rental deals worldwide. Sign up through this link to receive an initial $25 BONUS!

» Kayak + Momondo – I’ve been using these websites interchangeably for YEARS and they never failed to give me rock-bottom prices across all booking sites! I’ve surely saved a lot of money because of these platforms. TIP: To get the best deal, try to book via a local address.

» Secret Flying – I keep myself updated with worldwide flight promos, error fares, etc. by subscribing to this website so that it notifies me of all the craziest deals that’s out there! This has been such a huge money-saver. For instance, I once booked a ticket from Brussels to Tokyo for only 200+ EUR — roundtrip! Crazy right?

» World Nomads – Always get travel insurance — it is a MUST!  World Nomads is a trusted insurer, recommended by Lonely Planet. They cover residents of over 150 countries and policies can bought online 24/7, from anywhere in the world, even if you’re already traveling. The best feature about them? You can extend your insurance AND make claims online. No need to fly back home!

» My Most Trusted Brands – I only recommend and review products that I have personally used and believed in; so I hope that the ones listed in this link will be of help to you, the same way that they have helped me in my travels!

This is a question I get asked a lot, and there is no easy answer because we all have different skills, different existing monetary commitments, etc — but at the core is the notion of saving money, and there I do have some tips.

Tips for Saving Money So You Can Hit the Road

  • Open a separate savings account.  It’s important to keep your new travel fund very separate from your day-to-day expenses, and even your emergency fund, Christmas money etc. Designate a travel account and deposit all your new savings that you are doing for this reason directly into this account.
  • Purge. Step one should be purging all the things you don’t need and have stored in corners; when done correctly you can jump-start your travel nest-egg nicely by selling things in a garage sale, Craigslist, and eBay. Seeing a jump in your savings is heartening and a good way to start the process!
  • Cut your spending. Some tips I’ve read talk about halving your extras by 50%, and it’s solid advice because if you go too hard-core you end up miserable and unable to commit to a savings goal (that mentality of “okay, I will never eat out again”). Instead, simply begin to decrease the number of lattes you drink and restaurant trips, then each week transfer that amount over into your separate travel savings account (you have that separate savings account, right?).
  • Assess your debt. Debt is a burden, and you have to figure out how much of it you can pay off, as well as which debt is reasonably acceptable, and which should be paid off as soon as possible. Student loan debt is a very different beast than a defaulted credit card payment, though all of it is, at the end of the day, debt.
  • Increase your income. If you already have a job and find yourself with spare time, then you could consider adding on a part-time job or freelance work — all this money can then go directly into your travel account!
  • Stay focused and motivated. Never give up. Some people are in a fortunate situation that allows them to save up a large sum in just a handful of months (often those who can move in with parents for a while), and others need to spend several years saving up slowly at small increments. Figure out what camp you belong to and don’t save more than you can afford. But stick to your plan. Allow yourself splurges in your life, but never from your travel savings account!

YOUR NEXT STEP:

Read the longer post where I explain how I personally save money for my holidays. You can also check out my Travel Budget Section, to get a better sense of how much money you will need to save up for your intended Destination.

One of the most important pre-trip planning decisions is whether you are going to invest in Travel Insurance.

In my humble opinion, if you can’t afford travel insurance, you can’t afford to travel. It’s that simple. Ever since Gary and I have started travelling on our own, we consistently pay for travel insurance when outside of the UK. We wouldn’t be without it. Travel insurance is one of my biggest safeguards you must consider when planning your trip to foreign lands.  If you hurt yourself or run into trouble while abroad you could  end up having to pay thousands of pounds. We may think or hope that these things won’t happen to us, but remember no-one ever plans for problems to occur. Always think of the worst case scenario and prepare for it. You will feel safer for it.

Don’t be scared of Travel Insurance. In general,it is often far more affordable than you might think. There are even websites out there that will help you find the best deal. Furthermore, setting up travel insurance is fast and easy. Most companies now have very easy online interfaces. I have one main travel insurance recommendation.

There are lots of variables to consider when choosing your travel insurance – for example where you are going, how long you’re going for, the amount you want to contribute to a claim (the excess), if you’ll be returning home in-between trips etc.

I have one main travel insurance recommendations. This recommendation is based on my personal research and experience, please read your policies and be aware of what is covered:

World Nomads – World Nomads is a trusted insurer, recommended by Lonely Planet. They cover residents of over 150 countries and policies can bought online 24/7, from anywhere in the world, even if you’re already traveling. The best feature about them? You can extend your insurance AND make claims online. No need to fly back home!

Now I have never made a claim with this company, but I loved how quickly and seamlessly I was able to ask questions online and then secure the policies in the weeks before we left. I have many travel friends who have used World Nomads and everyone who has made claims generally speaks highly of them as one of the best options on the market.

Note that if you’re from the EU then you can get an EHIC card. This entitles you to state health care wherever you go. Essentially, you’ll be treated as a local so if the treatment you require is free to locals there, it will also be free for you, but if locals have to pay then you will too. This will vary from country to country, and even applies if members of that country have to pay taxes / public insurance in order to be entitled to that care. It does not grant you access to private health care.

The EHIC is not a substitute for travel insurance and it’s best to have both if travelling to a country where health care isn’t 100 per cent free or the quality of state-run healthcare is poor.

YOUR NEXT STEP:

Read the longer post where I explain how I personally choose a Travel Insurance Company bets suited to my needs

Credit and debit cards are yet one more concern when you’re traveling. What if you lose one? And which cards have the best international withdrawal rates?

The answer to these questions differ drastically depending on your home country. But here a five things you should consider when picking a travel debit and credit card:

  • The Transaction Fees – When used as a credit card, most debit and credit card companies tack on a 1% to 3% foreign transaction fee.
  • Withdrawal Fees – The cost of withdrawing cash from your debit bank account.
  • Are any countries blocked? –  Some countries are flagged as “highly likely for fraudulent activity.”
  • Online Banking – Can you access your account balance abroad?
  • Carry different brands – Visa and MasterCard are the most widely accepted and yes, you need one of each.

YOUR NEXT STEP:

Check your rates and look at banks at least three months before you trip so you have enough time to request new cards and open new accounts if necessary.

If you’re in need of travel inspiration, you could head to my Destinations Page and if you are closer to leaving you could consider reading my Country or City Guides. Rather than an exhaustive option with too many choices and decisions, I recommend the guest-houses I loved, experiences taking you deeper into the culture, as well as the iconic sites worth your time. Also included are vegetarian tips within each country, an internet quality assessment, and tons of other personalized extras.

#Step 1 First of all, consider what type of trip you have in mind. A big part of your decision will come down to personal travel style, what do you like to experience, and what is your everyday life like? Is your working and family life so hectic that you need a trip to relax, recharge and spend quality time with your family? Or, are you the type who can’t sit still for long, are wired for action and want to see and do as much as possible? Personally, I like a balance between having some down time and exploring new things.

Ask yourself the following questions:

  • City, beach or countryside?
  • Hot or cold weather?
  • Adventure or relaxation?
  • Shopping, culture or adrenaline?
  • Family,  friends or boyfriend/girlfriend? Or maybe solo?
  • Independent travel or have everything organised for you?
  • Budget or splash the cash? Or somewhere in the middle?
  • Off the beaten track or a tried and tested destination?

#Step 2 Determine the length of your trip and how much holiday allowance you have available. If you only have 1-2 weeks of vacation time per year, you probably don’t want to waste too much of that time travelling to your destination. But if you have 2-4 weeks you can look at travelling a little further.

#Step 3 What’s your budget? Determine how much money you have available for your next trip. You can always find a match for your budget but money will always have a big impact on your choice of destination.

Carefully consider the strength of the currency you are travelling on and what areas you can make your currency travel further. What other currencies is it stronger against?

Think strategically about all your options.

#Step 5 What’s your budget? Determine how much money you have available for your next trip. You can always find a match for your budget but money will always have a big impact on your choice of destination.

Carefully consider the strength of the currency you are travelling on and what areas you can make your currency travel further. What other currencies is it stronger against?

Think strategically about all your options.

#Step 6

Instead of thinking too much about the location of your next travel destination, let the best deals make up your mind for you!

Think about using airfare sales to help determine the location of your  next vacation and month of departure, rather than the other way around. Sites like Kayak Explore and Airfarewatchdog can help. For Kayak Explore simply plug in your departure city and choose the season or month and a list of available deals will appear.

I also like to check out Expedia. They often have great last-minute deals or specially monthly offers.

YOUR NEXT STEP:

Either hop over to my Travel Guides to see if I’ve covered your next destination, or consider picking up a Lonely Planet guide if you want help with budget transportation and accommodation, or Rough Guides for a bit more history-heavy travel guides.  And if you’re more far out from your trip and looking for inspiring books, check out my section with travel books, literature, and media.

I find that this question is best answered by your nearest travel clinic. If you want an outline of the recommended shots, The Center for Disease Control is the best source on the internet for the vaccination-inclined.

As for costs, these can stack up. Consider what vaccinations you will need before choosing a Destination and make sure to budget for the cost.

Here are the shots I have personally as of this moment—some are standard childhood ones, others usually just for travelers are marked with an asterisk*:

  • Hepatitis A
  • Hepatitis B
  • Meningitis
  • MMR (measles, mumps and rubella)
  • Polio
  • Tetanus/Diphtheria (Td)* (get a booster before you leave)

I do not have these vaccines, but some other travelers do:

  • Typhoid*
  • Yellow Fever* (is a proof-required vaccine for several countries)
  • Japanese Encephalitis
  • Rabies
  • Cholera
  • Chicken pox booster if you’ve never had it/only had the vaccine

YOUR NEXT STEP:

Read through the three main resources about needed shots from the CDC and head to your local travel clinic. Read my post about travel sickness and how to stay healthy on the road.

This is going to take some research on your part, because every single country on earth has different visa requirements depending on your nationality. Your government may list out each country and that is a launching point. Also, check the official site for the country you’re planning to visit for more details.

In some cases you can receive a visa on arrival, others can take a week or more (India, China…) and you have to pay. In nearly every case you must adhere to very strict specifications on the length of time you are allowed to stay in the country and leave before then or face hefty fines and penalties!

If you are travelling between various countries,  check to ensure you are allowed to obtain the visa from an embassy in a foreign country (you can easily get a Vietnamese visa from the consulate in Thailand but it is next to impossible to get a Russian visa outside your home country). This is one of the trickier parts of traveling so do your research!

Here are a couple of useful resources:

  • Project Visa: Handy and visual list that allows you to drill down into specific visa requirements for every country—the information is basic, and really gives you a general yes/no on if you need a visa, with further resources..
  • Visa Hunter: Easily sorted information for each country and each type of visa you might require (tourist, transit, business, etc). This is the first to go if you need to know about the need for advance or visa-on-arrival.
  • Visa Mapper: Love this visual guide that maps out where you’ll need to apply in advance, apply online, or visa-on-arrival. Just select your home-country at the top and it changes the color-coded map!

YOUR NEXT STEP:

Please, please research all this in advance or at best you will be sad and have to skip a country, and at worst you’ll be stuck at a border crossing … and let me assure you, none of the border-crossing towns are much fun.

I often get asked questions about my preferred travel gear and essentials. I have therefore decided to compile an updated list. Below, you will find some of the items that I personally use or recommend and I dearly hope that they will be helpful to you too.

NOTE: My travel style may not be the same as yours. Therefore, please scrutinise the items below and apply them to your individual destination and itinerary.

LUGGAGE & PACKING

samsonite-winfield-20-carry-on-rolling-luggage

Main Suitcase

Samsonite 20 – $95

samsonite-winfield-20-carry-on-rolling-luggage

Carry-On Luggage

Samsonite 20 – $95

travel-gear-convertible-osprey-sojourn

Convertible Luggage

Osprey Sojourn 80L – $259.99

Hiking Backpack

Osprey Ariel 55L – $249.99

City Backpack

Numinous Packs 55L – $299.99

Carry-On BackPack

Venque CamPro – $199

Packing Cubes

eBags 3-Pack – $29.99

Dry Bags

Unigear 5L to 30L – $11.99+

Toiletry Bag

eBags Pack-it-Flat – $29.99

No-Spill Travel Bottles

HumanGear GoToob – $13+

Scrubba Wash Bag

Small ‘Washing Machine’ – $49.95

Luggage Locks

Master Lock TSA-Approved – $6.98

CAMPING & ADVENTURE

Tent

eBags 3-Pack – $29.99

Camping Hammock

Grand Trunk Nylon 400lbs – $46.43

Sleeping Bag

Coleman for Cold Weather – $24.99

Light & Fast-Dry Towel

Packtowl Travel Towel – $12.95

Reusable Water Bottle

Hydro Flask 21oz – $25.56

Water Filter

LifeStraw 1000L – $19.97