Travel Resources

Welcome to my travel resources page! This is an ever-growing page of my favorite travel gear, websites, accommodation sites, transportation Sites, blogging resources, and travel blogs and oh yeah, the kitchen sink!

Some of these links are affiliate links, which means I’ll get a commission if you make a purchase after clicking the link. There is no extra cost to you. Even more good news? I only recommend and affiliate link products I actually use while traveling and adore, so you know you’re getting the good stuff.

This means you won’t have to be the one to find out what happens when your cheap packing cubes tear open into a million pieces the day before your flight… I already figured that out. Ductape, by the way. The answer is Ductape. Nor will you be shocked and heartbroken when you see an ad for a much cheaper train ticket just minutes after booking a non-refundable ticket because you used the wrong website. I got that covered for ya too!

A few resources have ** beside them. These are sites or programs I haven’t used yet but hope to soon! I’m including them because they are unique and interesting travel options and worth considering and they are generally well regarded in the travel community.

Travel Gear

Kelty Redwing 44 Backpack – This is the bag that holds my whole life while I’m on the road. It is spacious, well organized, and it comes in pretty colors. After six months of non-stop travel, it looks just as good as the day I bought it. No loose seams, no rips (which is a lot more than I can say for my ill-fated packing cubes). Click here for my full review: Kelty Redwing 44 Review

Apple MacBook Pro – I’m a Mac girl through and through. I use a MacBook Pro Retina 13in while I’m traveling and it’s more than enough for teaching online, editing photos, blogging, and Pinteresting.

Ceptics World Travel Adapter Kit – Since I didn’t know exactly where I would be traveling, I got an adapter with several different plug attachments. I like this one because it sits close to the wall, no dangly adaptor connections to trip over or bent prongs. It has two grounded ports and two USB ports too so you can charge everything at once.

Kindle E-reader – Having something to read on the road is a must, especially if you’re traveling without a data plan like me. With no phone entertainment and limited space in my bag, having tons of books in one thin light device is perfect

Sony DSC-RX100 Digital Camera – I use the Sony Cyber-shot DSC-RX100 for all my travel photography. It’s light and small enough to fit in my pocket which is important to me because if it’s too bulky I won’t bring it and I’ll wish I had. The camera quality is excellent (most of the pictures on this site are from this camera) and it also does nice videos.

Portable External Hard Drive – It’s generally a good idea just in life to back up your stuff to an external hard drive. Especially when you have a laptop full of amazing travel pictures that you don’t want to disappear when you get stuck in a tsunami and your laptop gets drenched. (Pro tip: keep your external hard drive in a Ziploc bag in case of a tsunami).

Woolx Women’s Merino Wool Tee Shirt Merino Wool’s claim to fame is that it is stink-proof. Maybe I am just an extra special lady in this regard, but I’m not sure if I would call these stink-proof. The armpits smell like armpits after a day of wear just like any other shirt. But here’s the difference. Merino wool washes easily and dries lightning fast. I’ll do all my laundry in the sink and hang everything to dry and my merino is dry hours before the cotton shirts. It dries smooth and doesn’t wrinkle either which makes it ideal for traveling. I tried two different brands of Merino Wool shirts before deciding on Woolx. It felt like higher quality material than the other brand and wasn’t itchy. On my next trip, I’m packing all merino.

Bimini Bay Outfitters Women’s Challenger Short – These shorts are everything. I wore them in black and my merino shirt pretty much every day in Costa Rica because they are long enough, really light, and fast drying for all my butt sweat. They are long and thin and breathable and comfortable enough to practically sleep in. Again, going to be ordering in other colors soon.

Bullet Journal – I use a bullet journal for everything. I draw out a calendar for the whole year to track my long-range plans and I make weekly and monthly spreads for shorter-term plans. Travel planning can have a lot of moving parts. A bullet journal is how I stay organized. Lots of people in the Bujo world love the Leuchtturm1917 for their notebook of choice, but I love this equally cute and much less expensive version by Minimalism Art.

Where to Stay (on the cheap)

House Sitting – House sitting is my all-time favorite form of accommodation. I have only used Trusted Housesitters to find house sits so far, but I always glance at the other sites to see what’s out there. Here are some of my favorites!

Airbnb – If I’m not house sitting, I’m almost always Airbnb-ing. In my experience, you get a much nicer place at a way lower cost than you would if you were using a hotel. I’ve stayed in Airbnb’s all over the world and I’ve only had one experience where the place wasn’t so hot (my dad and I affectionately dubbed it “the moldy mansion” and spent exactly one night there before hightailing it to another Airbnb that was fantastic. I especially like Airbnb’s for long-term stays since most homeowners offer a discount for weekly and monthly bookings.

Hotels.com – Hotel booking site that I really like because for every ten nights you book, you get one free. If you stay in hotels often, you can save some money with the free night incentive.

Hostelworld – A hostel booking site with great prices and listings all over the world. I like that they have lots of pictures and reviews from other travelers. It’s also easy to pick which kind of room you want. (If I were you, I’d avoid anything with more than ten beds if possible for snore control)

Couchsurfing **- I haven’t tried this yet but it is very popular and well regarded in the budget travel sphere. Homeowners can offer up their couch for travelers, so you get free accommodation and you get to meet new people in the city you’re visiting. Like on any “meet a stranger and live with them/ride in their car site,” hosts have ratings and reviews from past travelers so you can see they’re a real person.

WorkAway ** – I looked into this before I found my volunteering opportunity and it’s something I want to try at some point. Find volunteer opportunities all over the world in exchange for a place to stay and sometimes even meals. Costs $36/year to be a member.

Transporation

Kayak Explore – Put in your starting point and this feature shows you the cost of flights to different places around the world on one big, enticing world map. Great if you don’t know where you want to go or have an online job that you can take with you anywhere. Requires flexible dates to get the best deals.

Norwegian Airlines – Cheap flights from JFK to London, which is a great jumping-off point for the rest of Europe. Once you’re in Europe you can easily get around by bus, a budget airline, or train. They are quite strict about baggage weight and there aren’t any frills – no meals or pillows.

WOW Air **- Insanely good deals from the USA to Iceland and many other good deals from the USA to Europe VIA Iceland. I just checked their site and they are currently offering deals for $99 one way from Chicago to Reykjavik. Insanity! And Amazing!

Kiwi.com – I like Kiwi because they combine flights with different airlines which usually means lower prices. I’ll spend hours trying to combine flights myself (booking one flight on one airline from ATL to JFK, then another from JFK to London, then London to Dubai, then Dubai to Shanghai, etc.) trying to save money. But with Kiwi, they automatically look at flights from different airlines so you can sometimes find better deals.

FlyingSecret – A website of flash flight deals. You have to watch it pretty carefully (I recommend following their Twitter page if you use Twitter) but sometimes they have amazing steals listed. Best for people with fly date and location flexibility.

Eurowings – Awesome flight deals if you are traveling around Europe, especially if you are flexible. I once saw a one-way ticket on here from Germany to Croatia for 9 Euros. 9. There’s also a cool explore feature where you can put in your starting airport and see what good flight deals are available around the whole of Europe. Great for us location independent types!

Eurostar Snap – one of my house sitting hosts showed me this site and it is a game-changer. Eurostar snap offers 25 euro one-way tickets between London, Brussels, and Paris. Starting two weeks in advance, you pick the day you want to travel on and select morning or afternoon. they put you on an available train. you don’t get to pick your exact train but for that price, it’s worth it.

IZY – IZY, I love you and I hate you. I love you because you offer incredible deals on train tickets between Brussels and Paris. I hate you because I only found out about you after I purchased a non-refundable ticket at four times the price you were offering.

GoEuro – this is usually where I start when I’m traveling around Europe. put in your start and end destination and it tells you how much it would cost to go by train, plane, and bus. It also tells you how long it would take to go each way. The results can be surprising! Sometimes the bus is both the cheapest and fastest way between two cities. who would have thought?

BlaBla Car **- I haven’t tried this yet but it is very popular in Europe and almost everyone I met in Europe had used it, either as a driver or passenger. If a person is driving between two cities, they can “sell” seats in their car to other travelers going that way. The driver gets a bit of money and the passenger gets a much better price than they would get flying/training/or bussing. You also get directly to your location instead of having to go through airports and train stations.

Finding Things To Do

Sandemans New Europe – This company does free walking tours in nineteen cities all over Europe. I’ve done their tours in Paris, Brussels (twice), and Edinburgh and it’s always well worth it. The tours are longer and thorough and a great place to meet fellow travelers if you’re traveling solo. The tour guides work for tips only and they do expect a tip at the end if you enjoyed the tour, but I have every time and it’s well worth it! They also do other tours like pub crawls, beer tours, ghost tours, alternative city tours, and day trips to other cities. I did their Brussels beer tour (twice) and my sister and I took their day trip to Bruges. All top-notch experiences for a good value.

Viator – I used Viator to find my Belgian Chocolate Making class and there are so many experiences on here I want to try! They have a lot of “fancy” things that are way out of my price range, but you can adjust the filters to only show tours in a price range you are comfortable with.

Travel Apps

TripScout – This app gives detailed travel guides for individual cities written by locals! You have to pay for each city individually, they usually run between $5 – $10. With each city you purchase, you get a history guide, detailed site information, a full offline map, and other insider tips by people who actually live there.

TrailWallet – This is my favorite app for tracking travel expenses since you can set your own categories like accommodation, transportation, and cake. Every time you buy something, just pull out the app, enter how much you spent, and set a category. You can organize it by month, where you can see how much you spent in each category per month on the road, or you can organize it by trip where you see how much you spent in total per category on your trip. I try not to look too hard at how much I spent on cake.

Maps.me – Offline city and world map so if you’re traveling with no data and no wifi, you won’t get too lost. Also has driving, walking, and bicycle navigation instructions, all for free.

Uber or Lyft – Uber and Lyft are good resources to have in case you can’t find a cab, but they are not available in every city. They’re illegal in some parts of Europe because the taxi lobby said: “Yeah… no.” Still, if they’re available in your city, they’re usually cheaper than a cab and you don’t have to worry about getting ripped off because you’re a tourist. They do require wifi or data.

Podcasts – For long train rides, bus rides, and flights of course. I always download a few podcasts while I still have WiFi so I’m set for long travel days.

Spotify – Just like with podcasts, I like to download a playlist or two to have on long travel days. There is a monthly subscription cost but it’s way lower than buying songs one by one.

Teach Online

VIPKID – This is the online English company I work for and love! You can read all about my experience with VIPKID here. If you decide to apply and my site has helped you at all, consider using my referral code: NICOL0117

DaDa ABC **- another online English company that regularly gets good reviews and praise among my English teacher friends.

iTutorGroup **- An online English company with adult English learners and group classes, also highly regarded.

Udemy **- if you have a special skill, you can make and sell your own course on Udemy. This is ideal for people with skills in graphic design, website building, Lightroom, or other platforms that can be taught online. It requires a lot of work upfront but could be a hefty source of passive income once it’s done!

International TEFL Academy – If you want to start teaching English online or abroad but don’t have a clue how to teach, you should check out the International TEFL Academy. You can get TEFL certified which will qualify you for teaching jobs abroad and help your application to online teaching jobs. They offer an online course (that’s what I took) and several “on-site” courses in cool cities around the world. It’s a bit pricey, but you get a quality TEFL Education, an advisor who is involved and helpful, and lifetime job search guidance. Now, I guest write for ITA as an alumni ambassador because I liked their program so much!

So you want to start Travel Blogging…

The Business of Travel Blogging by Nomadic Matt – An awesome online course if you are brand new to blogging and have never made a website before. This course shows you how to start a blog from the ground up and eventually talks about everything from marketing to affiliates to partnering with brands. You also get access to a Facebook group of fellow travel bloggers that are very helpful and active! He also offers courses in Travel Writing, Travel Photography, and Vlogging. Highly recommend!

Super Star Blogging

Blue Host Website Hosting – If you do decide to start a website, you will need to get hosting. Hosting is basically the space on the internet you rent for your site. Blue Host has good prices and solid service.

ConvertKit – I use Convert kit for my email list because it is very user-friendly. If you want to grow a travel blog, having an email list is one of your most important assets.

ConvertKit

ThemeForest (Cheer Up Theme) – I used free WordPress themes for over a year before upgrading to a paid theme. Naturally, it took months of browsing all the beautiful options out there! Themeforest had so many cool templates and many of them include a live preview feature where you can play around with the layout before you buy it. I use the CheerUp theme on this blog. They also have a handy customer support forum where you can get help setting up your site if you’re stumped.

SlayingSocial – A free resource for bloggers to grow their traffic via social media. The girls who write this site are hilarious and their tips are very down-to-earth and helpful! I’ve done like five free email courses they offer and I love each one.

Travel Blogs, Web Sites, and Books for all the Travel Inspiration you can handle!

Travel Blogs

  • Adventurous Kate – The solo female travel blogger who started it all, Kate is one of the originals and one of the best. Not only does she keep it oh so real and write with refreshing honesty, but her site also inspired me to start this travel blog (thanks girl)! Check out her incredible recent post about her trip to Antarctica!
  • Nomadic Matt – Awesome resources for budget travel with comprehensive travel guides for so many different cities. He takes budget travel to the next level with so many helpful tips and resources. I have major website envy over his stunning website! I always check here when I’m trying to find something cool to do in a new city.
  • Practical Wanderlust – I laugh out loud every time I read this travel blog. The couple who writes it is amazing and hilarious, so please do yourself a favor and check them out. I almost peed myself reading about their offseason road trip through France.
  • Hecktik Travels – A blog about house sitting, long-term travel, and life in general from an amazing couple. Their site is unwaveringly authentic and their stories are rich, so rich that you might lose a few hours on their site. Real talk, I just went to their page to grab the URL for this post and ended up reading articles for half an hour.
  • Johnny Jet – For those who want to learn about using credit card points to get free travel, this website has lots of resources to help you get started.
  • MyTanFeet – fantastic resources about all things Costa Rica. The writers live in Costa Rica and their site has so many details about where to stay, what to do, and how to get around. If you don’t already have a Costa Rica trip booked, you’re going to want to go after spending some time on this site.
  • MissAdventure Travel – An awesome blog about solo travel and adventure travel. It’s also packed with information about teaching English abroad. I had the opportunity to guest write a post about teaching online which you can find here!

Helpful Websites

  • House Sitting Magazine – Everything you could want about the wonderful world of house sitting, new issues every month (see if you can spot me in their July magazine!)
  • Nomad List – a comprehensive database of the best cities for digital nomads, based on internet speeds, weather, safety, cost of living, and other important factors.
  • InterNations – An online community of ex-pats and internationals living abroad so you can find international friends anywhere in the world. They also host meet-ups and gatherings!

Favorite Travel Books

See my list here!

Pin for Later…

Pin Photo by Paul Trienekens on Unsplash

Travel Resources