If you are looking to plan or book a trip, this page is full of travel resources and companies that I use personally and have found invaluable as I’ve backpacked across 50+ countries on 6 continents and traveled across North America in a camper van.
It includes resources for finding cheap flights, affordable or FREE accommodations, travel insurance, travel apps, travel guide books, travel gear, travel work exchanges, and travel credit cards.
If you are looking for travel tips and guides by me, you might find these blog posts useful.
Disclaimer: Some of my links are affiliate links, it doesn’t cost you anything extra to book or purchase anything through them, but I get a small commission which helps me afford to keep posting travel tips for free!
Skyscanner is one of my favorite travel tools. It is a global flight search engine, that quickly checks airlines worldwide to get you the best flight deals.
It allows you to search “everywhere” as a destination (for adventurous souls) and search up to a month-long range of “flexible dates.” It also allows you to track prices for flights you’re interested in, by sending you alerts when they drop and rise!
Secret Flying offers unbeatable but random deals for flights all over the world. They also track airline “error fares,” which are basically mistakes in price postings that airlines have to honor if you book under the cheap “error” price.
It is especially useful for people with a lot of flexibility on their travel dates and adventurous people open to several destinations.
Hint: always use an incognito window and/or a VPN service when searching for flights and accommodations, because airlines will track your search history and raise the prices accordingly.
Hostelworld is the first place I go to look for accommodation when I am traveling solo. Staying in hostels is a great way to make your money go further, to make new friends and to get access to onsite tour agencies (which many hostels provide at reception)!
Hostelworld even has a free app, which allows you to book a hostel last minute while in transit from your phone. It’s as easy as ordering an Uber once you save your information!
Choose from private rooms, small and large dorms, mixed and single sex dorm rooms depending on your preferences and budget. Many hostels also have bars and/or cafes onsite, and allow late night check ins (don’t forget to read the included amenities to make sure though).
Airbnb is perfect for people who like the comfort and charm of guesthouses, and are looking for a more authentic and personal experience than staying in a hotel.
If you are on a tight budget you can set your filter to show you shared houses/apartments. There are also various other helpful filters depending on your needs (e.g. dog-friendly, suitable for events, free parking).
Airbnb also has “unique homes” available for people interested in staying in treehouses, a boat, an RV/camper, or even a barn!
I personally prefer to stay in a house where the host lives if I’m traveling solo because I’ve had many positive experiences with hosts showing me around the city, giving me local recommendations, and even cooking meals for me.
If you’d like to make some extra money by renting out your home or apartment while you travel, try becoming a host here.
Travel Work Exchange Opportunities & FREE Homestays
TrustedHouseSitters is a REALLY cool website/tool which allows you to travel on a budget by helping you find FREE accommodation in exchange for pet sitting OR it can help you find FREE pet sitters while you travel! Essentially they give you the platform to find free & unique homestays around the world, in exchange for caring for adorable pets at your destination. Or you can find background checked and reviewed pet sitters that you can interview, who will stay in your home and care for your pets while you travel! You can get a membership for as cheap as $129/year (for UNLIMITED days of use). That’s literally the cost of one night of accommodation at an Airbnb OR of boarding for your pets. Plus, they have membership plans with insurance and other travel perks like airport lounge passes.
World Wide Opportunities on Organic Farms aka “WWOOF“
WWOOFing is basically an agricultural work exchange network that connects travelers with organic farms, gardens and vineyards.
Every farm is different but typically a visitor works about 20hr/week in exchange for room and board. Leaving plenty of time to explore the regions you work in. It is a great way to travel on a tight budget, while also learning about sustainable agriculture and getting a homestay experience!
I have personally used WWOOF USA to work on a farm in Oregon and WWOOF Latin America to work in Belize.
Workaway is another great network for people looking for part-time work in exchange for food and accommodation.
It is perfect for people only available to work a few hours a day and interested in a cultural exchange experience.
Visits can last anywhere from a few days to a few months and jobs can range from house sitting to sailing and everything in between. Its great for learning new skills or evolving your existing ones.
There are currently over 30,000 hosts in 180 countries, making this the perfect tool to travel cheaply and find free accommodation around the world!
I never overlook travel insurance for my travels and neither should you. I’ve personally racked up hospital bills while traveling, had my luggage lost, and have had to end trips early, and travel insurance gives me so much peace of mind for those reasons. I also had a friend who had to take a several hundred thousand dollar medical evacuation helicopter ride. So, I have partnered with InsureMyTrip, because they are the best option to compare plans (from multiple companies) and find the right coverage for you. They have thousands of travel insurance plans and a one-of-a-kind recommendation engine to help travelers find the right plan. I love how you can filter and compare based on different insurance elements that make sense for you (e.g. medical insurance, evacuation, trip cancellation, luggage protection, pet insurance, etc.). If you plan on doing any more “extreme” sports or activities like scuba diving, skydiving, bungee jumping–always remember to check if your prospective plan covers these activities, and search for plans that do.
Mobile Travel Apps
Surfshark is an affordable and top-of-the-line VPN, which is the perfect tool for saving money on plane tickets and accommodations (by eliminating price discrimination used by the travel industry online), creating a secure internet connection and protecting your data while traveling and using public wifi, accessing blocked sites (like Netflix) with geo-restrictions, and bypassing high internet censorship in countries like China. I personally used a VPN when I was in China to access Gmail, Google maps, Google translate, and Google’s search engine (which are all blocked throughout the entire country unless you have a VPN)!
Get your own VPN for travel at just $2.49/month (that’s an 81% discount!)
Google Translate is the best free translation app I’ve found! You can use it offline by downloading specific languages before your trip. You can also translate images and languages that use characters through the camera function.
Uber is the modern taxi that operates in 70 countries! I have used them in almost every country I’ve traveled to as a safe and convenient form of transportation.
Get your first ride free with this coupon!
iOverlander is a mapping project for people on road trips and/or living in campers/RVs. It provides campground information along with reviews all based on user experiences. It is the ultimate FREE van life tool.
Maps.Me is an offline map service that allows you to navigate without wifi or an internet connection. You can search destinations by category and it offers cool view points and photo op locations based on other users recommendations.
Lyft is another ride service (ethically I prefer Lyft to Uber, but unfortunately they only operate in the United States). I use Lyft to get around when traveling within the U.S.!
Get $5 credit towards your first ride with this coupon!
Google Maps is a great GPS navigating app while traveling if you have a travel data plan. Otherwise, download “offline” maps to make sure you can get around without internet. I find this especially useful when trying to navigate public transit.
AllStays is a comprehensive vanlife/roadtrip/RV App which tells you where you can find campgrounds, RV parks, free parking, truck stops, rest areas, propane and various other services. It is the perfect camping tool wether you are looking for off-grid spots or full-amenities.
Travel Guide Books & Blogs
I have used a Lonely Planet guidebook for every backpacking trip I have ever taken! They have saved me so much time and money with their extremely detailed accommodation and local travel recommendations and their cultural tips and common phrases sections.
I also swear by their compact language books! Their guides are also available in digital formats (to save space in your backpack)!
Pink Pangea is an online community for women who love to travel. It is full of great tips, stories and insight into the possibilities of traveling alone as a female from the women who are already doing it.
Pink Pangea also hosts workshops, retreats and events all over the world for female travelers, writers, hikers and yogis.
Pink Pangea’s Feature Writer and Foreign Correspondent programs are also a great place to publish your travel writing for more exposure.
Recreational Equipment Inc. or “REI” is my favorite place to buy adventure/travel gear. They have an incredible return policy (100% satisfaction guaranteed). Everything except electronics can be returned or exchanged (even used) within one year of purchase!
For only $20, you can get a lifetime REI membership, which comes with some awesome perks like 10% back for annual dividends, storewide REI Co-op discounts, and adventure classes!
Patagonia is one my favorite outdoor brands, because they are actively trying to combat the climate crisis.
I also love that they have a whole line of slightly “used gear” called Worn Wear, where you can get really discounted clothes and adventure/travel gear.
Amazon is a great way to buy gear from your favorite brands all in one convenient place! I highly recommend investing in Amazon Prime for access to free fast shipping and returns!
Travel gear I can’t live without:
- Osprey Ariel 65 Liter Backpack
- Quick Dry Towel
- Hydro Flask Insulated Water Bottle
- GoPro Waterproof Camera
If you are looking for other adventure, hiking, or camera gear I use personally, check out my gear shop.
Ruffwear is my go-to dog gear brand. Since I have been traveling with my dog in a van for years, quality dog gear is important to me.
Ruffwear has a nice selection of dog travel gear, and I highly recommend their dog backpacks so your pup can help carry some of their own weight on backpacking & hiking trips.
Travel Debit & Credit Cards
I have been using travel credit cards since 2014, and I swear by them! You can save thousands of dollars by booking flights and hotels with points that you earn just by using your travel credit card to pay for your everyday expenses.
I have used the Chase Sapphire Preferred Visa Card, which is undeniably full of awesome travel perks (e.g. 1-5% points on every $1 spent, travel insurance, no foreign transaction fees, etc). BUT after discovering that JP Morgan Chase is the top financier of global fossil fuel projects (In 2019, Chase financed almost $65 Billion in the fossil fuel sector)–it’s difficult to justify using a credit card that is so opposed to my values.
Since diving into the question, ‘is it possible to bank sustainably?‘, I have done a lot of research and eventually opened an Aspiration Spend & Save Account debit card/bank account. Aspiration is a B-Corp company that provides sustainable and socially-conscious cash management services. You can also earn from 3-10% back on Conscience Coalition purchases, which you can then use for travel. If you sign up with my Aspiration link, you’ll get $50 when you open an account.
I now also use and recommend the REI Co-op World Elite Mastercard® because you can get up to 5% back on purchases and there is no annual fee (unlike most travel credit cards), plus there are no foreign transaction fees and they donate a percentage of your purchases to outdoor projects. Be sure to use my REI Member referral number: 16695467, if you decide to apply for an REI Mastercard.
If you want to learn about some other sustainable banks and credit cards with travel rewards–check out my post on Ethical Banks and Socially Responsible Credit Cards.
The bottom line: if you already have a credit card that isn’t gaining you miles or worthwhile perks, then why not switch to one that does?
If you don’t have a credit card and are looking to gain credit, a rewards credit card is the perfect way! **As long as you pay your minimum payments every month (full payments are even better to avoid interest fees), then you will improve your credit score and gain something extra every time you spend.**