In the last decade of off-and-on travelling, I’ve powered through the gamut of travel websites, gadgets, and equipment. Some were great. Some not-so awesome.
I’ve always been led to believe it’s rude to play favourites. In this case, I can’t help it.
Here are few of my favourite travel resources, blogging resources, and travel photography resources that I couldn’t live without.
- Booking.com: Whenever I need to book accommodation, I head to Booking.com first. Their hotel inventory is top-notch. The interface is easy to play on. And their smartphone apps are super functional and user-friendly. Once you sign up and complete a couple reservations, you’ll become a “Booking Genius,” which will get you exclusive deals on a variety of properties. My favourite feature is the large variety of properties that offer free cancellation. I can’t even count how many times I’ve saved money because of this!
- Agoda: For hotels and guesthouses, I always double-check prices on Agoda. I often discover better selection and better prices at Agoda in certain regions, particularly Southeast Asia and East Asia.
- Airbnb: I’ve booked on a variety of vacation rental sites, but none is as good, as far as I’m concerned, as Airbnb. The slick iPhone app and the easy web interface are the two biggest selling features for me. I’ve found excellent private rooms for a fraction of the cost of a hotel. Travelling as a family, you’ll save significantly as most hotels add big surcharges for extra guests. If you haven’t signed up on Airbnb, go for it and get a $25 travel credit toward your first stay.
- Kayak: When in need of a cheap flight, I always check things out first at Kayak. It’s not for booking flights, but rather a meta-search engine to find all the cheapest prices around the Internet. The best feature is the opportunity to set up price alerts for your destination. When the price drops by a certain amount, Kayak will email you. Disclaimer: Setting up price alerts will lead to impulsive travelling :)
- Skyscanner: If I’m not happy with the prices on Kayak, Skyscanner is my #2 go-to flight search platform. It seems to give better results for European destinations, especially if searching for international flights from a European destination.
- ITA Matrix: This little known gem gives you an insight into the backend of the flight booking industry. On here you’ll find the raw flight data including all the booking codes you’d need if you were to get a travel agent to book your exact itinerary. You can also change ticketing cities to see if you can find an even lower price. Give it a go right here.
Of course, when planning a trip I can’t help but check in with a few of my favourite travel blogs to get some advice!
- Albom Adventures: Rhonda Albom chronicles her family’s adventures from their homebase in New Zealand with spectacular photography and keen storytelling.
- Expert Vagabond: Have a crazy adventure in mind? Matthew Karsten’s probably done it. He truly gets (way) out there, and digs up some remarkable adventures.
- LandLopers: Matt Long seems to always be on the move. And it’s always fun to tag along with him for the ride. What you’ll find at LandLopers is luxury adventure travel advice for a more mature crowd.
- Mapping Megan: Megan might well be the most consistent travel blogger in history in both quality and sticking to her editorial calendar. She’s been around forever, and takes us along with her every step of the way with excellent storytelling and engaging content.
- Nomadic Samuel: One of the first travel blogs I started following along with. Sam always writes with an entertaining and engaging style and is a fantastic travel photographer/videographer.
- That Backpacker: Following along with Audrey as she hops around the world is always a treat. It’s easy to dig her passion for exotic foods and superb photography and videography.
- Travel Addicts: I can really relate to Lance and Laura as they are busy working professionals trying to somehow satisfy their urge to travel as frequently as possible. Check them out for practical short-term travel itineraries and tips.
- Travel Dudes: If you can’t find it on Travel Dudes, you probably won’t find it anywhere. Travel Dudes has a massive community backing it up, so there’s always something new and interesting to check out here.
- Travel. Experience. Live.: The adventure travel blog of Bram Reusen, a Belgian writer/photographer/ex-pat currently living in and exploring the United States. Dig around and read about his North Cape cycling trip (pretty cool stuff!).
- Tripologist: Jim started Tripologist while working as a teacher in Asia and finding creative ways to travel around Asia on a budget. There’s a ton of great travel planning and money-saving information here.
- Triphackr: Clint seems to have a knack for finding himself in usual places lately. Camping at a volcano in the Congo? Yep, that’s the type of awesome content you’ll find at Triphackr.
Can’t go travelling without some travel gear, right? Here are some of my favourites:
- Top 200 Travel Books: Add some of these to your reading list on your next trip.
- Traveller Gift Ideas: Don’t get stumped on the holidays. Here are some gift ideas for those few special travellers in your life.
- Tortuga Travel Backpack: There’s nothing more convenient for independent travellers than this backpack. If you want a minimalist backpack that doubles as a carry-on for short-term travel, this is the one.
- adidas Outdoor Men’s Terrex Swift R GTX: The best all-around men’s hiking shoes (and walking shoes) you’ll find. Finally found something that’s comfortable and doesn’t look like a hiking shoe!
- Nikon D7000: I absolutely adore this camera. My first foray into a DLSR was the Nikon D40. After a couple years of learning on the D40, this bad boy came out. And while I’m not normally the type to go for shiny, new things, the D7000 was a massively worthwhile upgrade. Nikon has updated the D7000 line twice since I purchased it, but I still wouldn’t hesitate to recommend the original especially considering the value for the price. The newest, the Nikon D7200, looks like a big jump forward, in both features and price. I’m still holding out with my D7000 in hand. Can’t say for how much longer though!
- Nikon AF-S DX NIKKOR 18-105mm f/3.5-5.6G VR: If you already have a smaller Nikon DSLR, the Nikon 18-105mm is a great upgrade to the 18-55mm kit lens. I originally grabbed this lens for my D40 and the image quality over the kit lens was immediately noticeable. These days, Nikon bundles their newer prosumer lines with the NIKKOR 18-140mm f/35-5.6G, which appears, in itself, to be a big step up from the 18-105mm.
- Sigma 10-20mm f/3.5 Super Wide Angle Lens: For those ultra-dramatic wide-angle shots, nothing complements the Nikon D7000 better than the Sigma 10-20mm. The build quality is solid. And the price—well, you just can’t beat it with the equivalent Nikon-branded wide-angle coming it at almost double.
- Nikon AF-S DX NIKKOR 55-300mm f/4.5-5.6G VR: The telephoto zoom lens currently sitting in my kit. It doesn’t get nearly as much use as my wide-angle and standard zoom lenses, but the Nikkor 55-300mm is impressive for its price point.
Web Hosting Resources
- Bluehost : If you want to start a blog, you can’t do much better than to get your hosting with Bluehost . Their shared hosting plans offer the cheapest solution for your first site. They even offer one-click WordPress installs to help you get started right away.
- Namecheap : I used to register all my domains at GoDaddy until I discovered Namecheap . Their private WHOIS protection (super important for bloggers!) is currently free for the first year with new domain registrations with significantly cheaper renewal costs than other domain registrars I’ve used.
Web Design Resources
- StudioPress : Unless you want to risk massive crashes and security issues, you need to build your WordPress site using a premium framework and child theme. In my opinion, there’s no better framework and child theme combo than Genesis by StudioPress . The Genesis Framework is the most popular on the web for a reason. It’s secure, fast, and easy to configure with the great support offered on the StudioPress site. I opted for the StudioPress Pro Plus All-Theme Package , an excellent deal if you’re planning to build a couple sites with different themes. (StudioPress Pro Plus includes lifetime access to all current and future Genesis child themes.) I’ve created over half a dozen sites with the Genesis framework and various Genesis child themes. They’re all beautiful (and mobile-ready) right out-of-the-box, and with a few CSS tweaks you can easily make anyone of them suit your design vision.
Email Marketing Resources
- GetResponse : I’ve tried several email marketing providers over the years. None is better than GetResponse. I don’t find GetResponse quite as beginner-friendly as Aweber, but once you’ve figured out how their interface and system works, GetResponse is far a more powerful email marketing tool , and is, overall, the best value for starting out with email marketing.
- Aweber : A close second for email marketing providers. Of the paid services I’ve tried, Aweber is the easiest email marketing solution to start with . If you’re on the fence, Aweber offers a free trial to test their service out.
NOTE: This resource page contains affiliate links. If you buy anything through these links, I make a small commission. It won’t cost you anything extra, but it will help put some beer/sushi money in my pocket to keep me trekkin’ on.