This page is full of travel resources and companies that I use personally and have found invaluable over the last decade as I’ve backpacked across 50+ countries.
It includes resources for finding affordable accommodation, travel insurance, cheap flights, travel apps, travel guide books, travel gear, travel jobs and travel credit cards.
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!
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 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.
Sky Scanner 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 by sending you email 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.
Travel insurance can often be overlooked, but I and every avid traveler I know consider this a necessity.
I personally always use World Nomads because their policies are designed for adventurous travelers with coverage for overseas medical, evacuation, illness before your trip and emergency medical expenses during your trip, lost baggage and documents, theft, and a range of adventure sports and activities (including scuba diving). They even cover things like natural disasters, terrorism, and civil war. You can buy and make claims online, even after you’ve left for your trip!
I have been using them for every trip I take for the last seven years and luckily only needed to cash in on my policy once in Thailand. I had to go to the hospital for a scuba diving injury and World Nomads completely reimbursed me for my medical bill. Even if you don’t think you’ll need it, think again. After seeing first-hand as a friend got helicoptered out of Uganda, racking up a $300,000 bill (all covered by insurance) I realized that it’s always better to be safe than sorry.
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.
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!
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.
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.
Travel Job Resources
World Wide Opportunities on Organic Farms aka “WWOOF“
WWOOFing is basically an agricultural work exchange network that connects visitors 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!
Teaching English abroad is a great way to make travel more affordable and get valuable work experience. Maximo Nivel is the company I got my TEFL (Teaching English as a Foreign Language) certificate through and worked for as an ESL Teacher in Cusco, Peru.
They also have locations in Guatemala, and Costa Rica and they offer Spanish classes and volunteer opportunities.
Idealist.org is a database that puts you in touch with a wide range of volunteer, internship, and paid job opportunities around the world.
The platform is all about connecting people who want to do good with opportunities for action and collaboration.
Their network includes 120,000+ organizations worldwide.
Idealist is how I found my jobs in Tanzania, Kenya, and New York.
Volunteering tourism or “voluntourism” is one way to make travel more affordable and meaningful if done responsibly. Charity Navigator is a charity evaluator that thoroughly analyzes non profit organizations financial documents and then ranks the charity based on what they find.
They have assessed over 9,000 of America’s best known charities.
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!
If you don’t want to teach English in Latin America, Language Corps connects you with various English schools and programs around the world that offer TEFL/TESOL courses, jobs as an English teacher abroad, and volunteer opportunities. They are the middle man that helps ensure legitimacy, which can be hard to decipher when googling teaching English abroad, but it also means you pay a bit more by going through them.
Devex is another job search engine that puts you in touch with a range of paid jobs, volunteer opportunities, internships, grants, and even scholarships and fellowships around the world.
This database is geared more towards skilled professionals in the international development/aid sector.
It is a social enterprise that connects over 1 million professionals in development, health, humanitarian, and sustainability professionals through news, business intelligence, and funding & career opportunities.
Charity Watch is another resource to help keep your conscious clear when choosing organizations to work/volunteer with. They do all the hard groundwork of researching and digging up any dirt on a non-profit so that you can focus on doing your part!
They also rank charities based on efficiency of using donations.
Travel Credit Card
I have been using a travel credit card 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.
In the past, I used the Chase Sapphire Preferred Visa Card, which was full of awesome travel perks 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), I could no longer justify using a credit card that is so opposed to my values.
I have since switched to an Aspiration Spend & Save Account debit card. 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.**