Stepping out of your comfort zone and traveling the world can be a rewarding and unforgettable experience.
However, there can be some challenges with traveling such as figuring out the logistics of planning and organizing a trip, unexpected setbacks like lost luggage or health issues, and traveling with a tight budget.
This is why I want to share with you my favorite travel resources that I personally use to plan all of my trips!
Let this be your one-stop destination for all the tools, tips, and recommendations you need to elevate your travel experiences.
💳 Best Travel Credit Cards
Don’t exchange your points for cash or gift cards! It’s tempting to purchase an Amazon gift card with your extra points, but the best way to redeem your points is through airline flights!
To know if you are getting a good deal, a great rule of thumb for redeeming credit card points is to aim for a redemption value of at least 1 cent per point.
I personally use the Chase Preffered. I like this card for travel because it easily pays for itself and has so many amazing travel perks. Including a very generous sign up bonus, bonus earnings on travel, hotel credit, and no foreign transaction fees.
PRO TIP: Chase also allows you to combine points from multiple Chase cards, transfer points to airline and hotel partners, and another huge benefit is combining points from a spouses Chase account.
If you travel a fair amount in the US and enjoy flying Southwest Airlines like we do, the the Southwest Priority Card is also a great option. Last year I earned the Companion Pass, where my husband traveled with me for FREE.
I booked a $500 flight to Hawaii for my husband for free. And this year we used some of those Southwest points we earned the previous year for both of us to fly to Hawaii for FREE.
🧳 What to Pack
The essentials that come with me on every trip no matter where it is
- Away Luggage: If your suitcase needs an upgrade, I highly recommend investing in the Away Luggage. It is the perfect travel suitcase that will last you on many more trips and adventures to come. And it fits so much luggage!!!
✨ This is the suitcase that I have and love, but there are plenty of other sizes and colors for you to choose from.
- USB Charger: I have had this USB charger for years and it has lasted me on many many trips! It has three ports and charges most phones over 6 times.
- International Converter: I love this one because it works for multiple countries, has 5 USB ports, AND is compatible with my flat iron and blow dryer.
- Packing Cubes: Keeps your clothes and toiletries organized. I like to use these when my husband and I don’t want to pay extra $$ to check a bag and we are sharing a bag.
- Portable Wifi Hotspot: Sources service from cell towers, so you can get wifi anywhere in the world.
✈️ Booking Your Flight
Global Entry/TSA PreCheck: We have Global Entry and it is 1000% worth it! Global entry lets you bypass the painfully long immigration lines at participating U.S. airports. It also gives you TSA PreCheck benefits as well. It’s $100 to apply and it’s good for five years.
Skyscanner: When I am looking for the best deal on international airline tickets, I like to go on Skyscanner first. It’s a quick and easy way to compare prices from other airlines and providers to find the cheapest price for your flight.
🚗 Airport Transfers
I have used booking to reserve airport transfers all over the world and have always had a positive experience.
Also, it’s nice because they instantly give you a quote for the transfer. So it can be a great baseline if you are contacting multiple companies for a transfer.
🚘 Car Rentals
Rental Cars: is awesome for connecting you to the biggest car rentals around the world for an incredible price.
This budget friendly company has flexible bookings, no hidden fees, and price match guarantee. We have always had a great and positive experience booking with them all over the world.
🏨 Best Accommodation
Booking.com: For hotel stays I typically search and book with Booking.com. One of the main reasons is the flexible booking options, including free cancellation. I also like it for its verified guest reviews and best-price guarantee.
And they offer an awards program, so if you continue to book with them you can get discounts for future trips!
Shared Homes: When traveling with a group, we like to book shared homes with either Airbnb or VRBO. I usually find more options on Airbnb, but I like to book with VRBO when I can because I find that they tend to have lower fees (cleaning fee).
⛰️ Activities & Tours
Tours can be part of some of your most valuable memories from a trip! Depending on where I am traveling to, I personally like to book at least two unique tours during our vacation.
I have used both booking platforms many many many of times. They sometimes offer different tours so I do like to check out both websites when looking for the best experience and price.
Take Walks is a smaller company that offers tours in North American and Europe. They offer high quality tours with local experts.
All three companies also have a free cancellation policy if you cancel 24 hours before your tour.
🍷 Wine Tasting in California
Priority Wine Pass: The wine pass that gets you discounts on wine tastings! With its famous 2 for 1 wine tasting deals where you only need one pass per couple and many other discounts at participating wineries, it is the best way to save money on wine tasting.
🚉 Transportation Resources
TrainLine: A quick and easy way to buy budget-friendly train tickets in Europe.
Rome2Rio: A a website that shows you various ways to get between two destinations. It’s great to use if you don’t have a car and looking for other forms of transportation (flights, trains, buses, ferries, etc). It will also give you an estimate of each transportation option.
Google Maps Offline: If you are traveling to a location with little service, then knowing how to download your maps is a lifesaver!
- Open Google Maps app & search for the destination you would like directions for
- Pull up the bottom menu until it covers the map
- Select Offline Maps
- Move the rectangle over the area you plan to visit. The closer you zoom in the less space it uses on your phone.
- Then click “Download.”
- Now you can use your map offline
Trippit: When we plan our big family vacations we like to use Trippit. It keeps everything organized and everyone has access to the itinerary for the trip.
🤒 Travel Insurance
After a scare of going to the Emergency Room in Paris when I was 32 weeks pregnant, I am now a firm believer of travel insurance. Here are two that I recommend:
Safety Wing: Budget friendly option for insurance. Also, it can be purchased while already abroad.
Travel Insurance Master: Best to compare multiple plans. An easy-to-use algorithm that recommends the best insurance and value for your unique trip needs.
🥘 Finding the Best Restaurants
I of course like to read other bloggers’ posts to find local hidden gems or off-the-beaten-path restaurants. However, if I am looking for a list of the top restaurants in an area I don’t go to TripAdvisor.
Instead, I refer to websites like Eater, The Infatuation, and the Thrillist Eater.
The Fork is one of the best resources for booking restaurant reservations in Europe. I also like to use it for last minute bookings for dinner reservations.
Its easy to use filter allows you to search all of the restaurants in your area that have open availability for your party size.
The biggest perk is that many restaurant reservations come with discounts, and you can accumulate YUMS, which is an award system. You get YUMS per reservation, which can lead to a discount on your bill.
🌎 Language Translator
Google Translate is definitely a good go-to as a free travel app for translating 132 languages. However, it does not work offline. So if you typically travel in airplane mode, iTranslate can be a great alternative.
As of right now, iTranslate only supports English, Spanish, French, German, and Chinese (Mandarin) in the offline mode for voice translations. There is a monthly subscription of $5.99, but they offer a 7 day free trial. So you can use it for at least some of your trip and cancel it before you get charged.