Planning a trip is the exciting start to a new adventure, but sometimes it can be overwhelming. A little bit of (the right type of) preparation can go a long way towards having a safe and smooth trip.
After countless trips and years of full-time travel, we’ve spent a lot of time discovering first-hand what is helpful and what is not. Check out some of our favorite resources that we use personally to prepare for our travels and our travel tips for a better trip.
Get started on planning your next adventure today!
Get inspired before taking your next trip. Not only will this help assure a good experience, but it’s the most fun part of planning!
|Lonely Planet||Lonely Planet is frequently recommended, but that is for a good reason. They do a great job putting together travel guides and tips to help inspire you and make your trip planning easier.|
|Travel videos||Whether you’re watching on YouTube or putting on a documentary or film, this is a great way to sit back and relax while getting inspired. After a long, hard day, you may not feel like doing research, but it’s super easy to tune into something on the television and can be incredibly inspirational.|
|A quick search on Instagram for the name of the city or place you are visiting will lead you to inspirational pictures and ideas of landmarks you may want to visit. It is an easy and fun way to get inspired. It’s also a surprisingly real-time way to find out relevant local updates.|
|Travel books||Of course, traditional travel books are always a great way to get inspired for your travels. Learning about the place you are visiting will not only get you excited about it, but it will make you appreciate what you are experiencing more once you get there. We love everything by National Geographic, but there are so many more countless options out there.|
|Reddit is a great forum to check for specific questions or general planning. The upvote system does a great job bringing the most helpful tips to your attention, and I am always impressed with the quality of information I am able to find on the site. TripAdvisor is helpful too, but because it is so mainstream it will only lead you to super touristy sites. A site like Reddit can result in some hidden gems.|
Planning & Research
While we’ve come to learn that over-planning can be detrimental to flexibility and seizing the moment at times, a certain level of preparation and research will always be absolutely necessary. Never forget to check the proper websites to confirm health and safety information as well as general travel advisories.
|U.S. Department of State||You should never travel to another country without checking the applicable country page on the U.S. Department of State website. The website provides fact sheets, travel advisors, and other useful information relating to each country.|
|CDC||The travel page on the CDC website is an invaluable resource for up-to-date health and safety information relating to vaccinations, health advisories, and general travel tips relating to safe practices in each country. It currently includes helpful information relating to COVID-19. Make sure to check this well in advance of your travel departure date so that you can start preparing accordingly.|
|National Park Service||If you are visiting a U.S. national park, you will want to check the National Park Service website. Enter the name of the park you will be visiting in the box on the home page to read park-specific information. Most other countries with a national park system will have a comparable website that would be useful to check if visiting national parks abroad.|
When you are going the distance, flying is usually the way to do it. The trick is finding the right flight for a good price. Make sure you are accounting for all of the applicable fees before determining which flight is the best deal.
|Google Flights||Everyone knows that google is a great search engine for flights. They make it easy to compare different flights and prices. We usually start here as a benchmark for pricing and scheduling before comparing against other sites.|
|Skyscanner||If you are searching for a good deal on flights, you should always make sure to check Skyscanner. We’ve consistently found great deals on this site, and it only takes a minute to check. You can download the app on your phone or tablet as well.|
|Airlines||Often, we get so used to using these flight search engines that we forget to go directly to the airline itself. Our strategy is typically to use the search engines as a tool to compare the various airlines and flights, then go directly to the airline company once we’ve narrowed down to see if they offer better deals or perks.|
Here are some of our favorite resources for booking accommodations during our travels.
|AirBnB||AirBnb is our favorite site for booking places to stay for any extended period of time. You can find great deals and live like a local. Hosts will often give great local recommendations as well.|
|Agoda||Depending on what part of the world we’re in, we either use Agoda or Booking.com as our go-to website for hotel deals. Check both because it can vary which will have a better deal for the same place.|
|Booking.com||Depending on what part of the world we’re in, we either use Booking.com or Agoda as our go-to website for hotel deals. Check both because it can vary which will have a better deal for the same place.|
|CouchSurfing||While we’ve never used CouchSurfing, we know people who have and had great experiences. This site connects you with locals who will let you stay with them for free. If you are traveling on a tight budget, this may be worth checking out to see if you can find a match that works.|
|HostelWorld||HostelWorld is the go-to site for those who are traveling on a budget and staying in hostels.|
You will want to be sure you’ve researched the transportation options in a city before arriving, starting from the moment you arrive and need transportation to your place to stay.
|Ride-hailing apps||Ride-hailing apps like Uber or Lyft can be more cost effective and safer than local taxis in many places. Be sure to check if there are any restrictions on these companies where you are visiting, particularly to and from the airport. Research ahead of time to find the local app for the place you are visiting. For example, in certain Asian countries, the most commonly used apps are Grab and gojek.|
|Public transportation||If the city you are visiting has a metro, bus system, or other public transportation, this will almost certainly be the most cost-effective mode of transportation for distance travel. Plus, it gives you the opportunity to experience the city the same way locals do in their everyday lives.|
|Bike or scooter rental||Bike and scooter rentals are becoming increasingly popular in tourist areas, and this is a fun and efficient way to visit a place. You can either go to a local rental shop or check to see if there is an app available to effortlessly rent scooters or bikes on the street. Examples include Lime and Flamingo, but there are countless companies doing this all over the world.|
Tours are a great way to experience new places, but it can be difficult to know where to begin with booking one. It’s always important to consider whether the tour you’re taking actually benefits members of the local community and is contributing to sustainable travel.
|Walking tours||We always begin our visit to each new city with a free walking tour. This is a great new way to learn about a city and get ideas from a local of good things to do while you are in the city. And it’s free (plus a tip, of course)!|
|G Adventures||G Adventures specializes in small group adventure travel, with a focus on supporting local communities. This is our favorite tour company, as it will not only provide you with an adventurous experience, but it will also expose you to the local culture and support sustainable travel in the area you are visiting.|
|Intrepid Travel||Intrepid prides itself on being a leader in responsible, ethical small group adventures. Similar to G Adventures, Intrepid is a great choice for finding tours that you know will help make a positive impact and support sustainable travel.|
|Find a local tour||You can always google tours or check Airbnb for tours in the area you are visiting. We’ve had some of our best experiences finding local entrepreneurs who were running their own tours, which means the money is going directly into the hands of community members. Airbnb takes a percentage cut of the fee to connect you and assure a good experience, but you can feel comfortable working directly with that tour guide if you want to do more tours afterward.|
Packing & Gear
When it comes to buying gear, there are phenomenal options out there that not only provide versatile, quality choices but also help support positive social and environmental change.
|prAna||prAna makes up a healthy portion of our wardrobe. The company is built on the mission to create stylish and sustainably made activewear, and they have succeeded amazingly. You can feel good purchasing this high-quality clothing knowing that this company has a proven record of making sustainability and social responsibility central to its operations.|
|REI||REI is probably the outdoor store where we do most of our shopping. For the quality of the gear you purchase, the prices are very reasonable. And REI stands by its mission of putting “purpose before profits.” REI also allows its members to trade in certain items to help reduce waste. Don’t forget to check out REI outlet to save some money!|
|Patagonia||Patagonia may be a bit pricey, but the company is the gold standard for quality products and social responsibility in the outdoor gear industry. Patagonia has committed to a 1% Earth tax (as they call it), donating 1% of all sales to preserving and restoring the environment. If you want to save money, you can buy used, trade in, or fix your gear on WornWear.com, which also helps to reduce carbon, waste, and water footprint. These are just a few of the programs Patagonia has implemented to drive positive change.|
|Helene Clarkson||For ladies who want to travel in style and struggle with packing light, this website may be perfect for you. Helene Clarkson offers multi-purpose, wrinkle-resistant clothing that is also fashionable. The clothing is on the pricier side, but the price tag is supported by the quality of the apparel.|
Tools & Resources
Here are a handful of additional resources that may be helpful in planning your trip. Consider downloading some of these apps or joining these programs for a better travel experience.
|Google maps||We would never visit a new place without downloading a map of the area on Google maps, especially if there is a chance we may not have a consistent internet connection. Make a habit of doing this before you hit the road and lose your wifi connection. You won’t regret it.|
|Google translate||Not only can you quickly translate phrases in 109 languages with Google Translate, but it can also translate photos and audio in many languages. This allows you to take pictures of signs or record speech and get a translation in real-time. Download the app in advance while you have a good internet connection.|
|If you haven’t already done this, download Whatsapp right now. Most of the world uses this app for communicating. It’s free to download, and you can send texts and make calls for free as long as you have a wifi connection.|
|Priority Pass||If you are traveling internationally to multiple countries, getting a Priority Pass is an absolute must. Lounges in other countries are spectacular and make the entire airport process so much more enjoyable. Certain credit cards offer this perk for free.|
|Global Entry||Consider enrolling in Global Entry for international travel. If you don’t want to pay the $100 fee to apply for Global Entry, using Mobile Passport is another great option to save yourself time and hassle.|
|TSA Precheck||Consider enrolling in TSA Precheck for domestic traveling within the United States if you want shorter lines and quicker travel time.|
|EatWith||You can use EatWith to find locals who will prepare a home-cooked meal for you at a fair price.|
|Grassroots Volunteering||This website is a great way to get connected to volunteer opportunities and social enterprises abroad. It began as a way to “decommodify the volunteerism industry” and avoid some of the issues that sadly go hand in hand with volunteering abroad in this day and age.|
Check back soon as we continue to add new tips and recommendations to make your travel experience easier and more enjoyable!