Travel Resources

Sunset view from an airplane window

Traveling require at least some planning, especially for independent travelers. Even for those of us who like to go with the flow, take opportunities as they come, choose last-minute getaways.

We still need to buy airfare if we fly to a destination, we might need to rent a car, and we need accommodations. So, even when we don’t plan an itinerary, we need to plan how we get to our starting point. Since we’ve been doing this for over thirty years, we have a few preferred tools we use, and I thought I’d share some of them.

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Travel Planning Tools:

1. Airfare

Since we fly a lot, even if just to visit family in Europe, we always search for the best airfare. We like to shop around, so we always check several brokers before committing to a flight, especially when flying to Europe.

CheapOair

It was actually the first cheap flights search site I ever used, and I still check them, especially when I plan to book a trip to Europe.

However, I like to shop around and check several different sites. One of my new favorites is becoming

WayAway.

I haven’t used it as much yet, but they seem to feature lots of great deals, so that might change soon. In that case, I will update you on my experiences with them.

Trip.com

This is another popular booking site for not only airfare worldwide, but also accommodations, public transport and car rental choices, and even attractions.

Flight Cancellations

In the past few years we had several flights cancelled, and many more delayed. Fortunately, delayed flights didn’t resulting us not getting to our connection – though several times we almost missed them. I would hate to repeat our run through Heathrow airport coming back to Phoenix from Romania.

it was much more of a hassle when our flights were cancelled – which happened twice in one year. It took us days to get on another flight, and in one case I just gave up the whole trip. Still, we were on the phone for days with the airlines to get us either rebooked or get our money or points back (and my points didn’t show up for months after). I just learned about a company that helps with these problems, and I plan on using their services next time my flight gets cancelled or delayed:

AirHelp

Its I mentioned before, I have not used AirHelp yet, however, I wish I knew about them when I needed them. All you need to do is submit the flight details and they will get you up to $700 in compensation for canceled or delayed flights. As payment, they take a percentage of your compensation. Frequent travelers who deal with cancelled and delayed flights often, can sign up for their prepaid service, in which case they will get all of the compensation.

Car Rental

We also like to use car rental comparison to find the best deal. Several companies offer help with this. Discover Cars

offers comparison prices all over the world.

RentalCars.com

is one of the world’s largest online rental car companies, so it’s alway sa great idea to check them, too.

QEEQ

One of the more recent car rental comparison site, QEEQ is another one worth checking before booking a car.

Of course, you can just go directly to the rental car company you prefer, especially if you have a long-standing relationship with them. However, it never hurts to do a bit of comparison shopping.

Other Transportation

BikesBooking.com

offers online booking service for motorcycles, scooters, quads, and bicycles all over the world.

RailEurope

helps travelers to Europe find their own path by train. Train travel in Europe is still a convenient way to see many of the continent’s countries in one convenient trip.

At Our Destination

Once we are at our destination, we usually check TripAdvisor for things to do, interesting places nearby, good restaurants, or even hotels to stay. We usually check the site to learn what other travelers think of the destination, what restaurants, activities, and things to do they recommend. However, you can also use TripAdvisor to book hotels, reserve tables at restaurants, and book experiences.

Start saving your ideas

Accommodations

Although we seek out locally owned small hotels when possible, they don’t always have a website, and we need to rely on walking up to them and hope they have a room. We often do this, but when we used to travel with kids, we sometimes felt the need to know where we would stay without much of a search. And, when we travel to popular sites (we sometimes do), we know we need to book a place to stay.

For comparison shopping, Trivago helps you compare deals for hotels and other accommodations in 190 countries. You can filter your search, and find exactly what you are looking for, from budget hostels to luxury hotels.

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We also use Booking.com to see what deals they have. They often have even better deals that the hotel websites. Besides, they offer anything from luxury hotels to budget rooms and short-term apartment rentals.

As a family, especially when traveling to a place we plan to stay longer, we like to rent a house or apartment for a week at a time. We often use Vrbo for these types of trips.

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Although as a family we never stayed on hostels, my daughter Leanne did when traveling through Europe with her friend. Young people like her, traveling on a budget, can use HostelWorld to book acommodations.

Tours and Experiences

As independent travelers, we don’t use tours. However, I know people who do, and even more who enjoy experiences. Which also make great gifts. I thought I’d include some tour and experience aggregation sites. I often check them when looking for things to do in a new place, or for experience gifts.

Viator

is the largest experiences marketplace for tours and activities, for everything from wine tasting and cooking classes to bus and walking tours, and tickets and passes to popular landmarks.

GetYourGuide

is another popular booking platform for travel experiences, from skip-the-line tickets to popular attractions, walking tours with local experts, immersive food and drink tours, cooking and craft classes, bucket list experiences, and other niche offerings.

Klook

offers booking for anything, including hotels, cars, tours and activities, tickets to attractions and shows.

Travel-Related Products

Tickets to Attractions and Shows

When visiting a city, or even just at home, we like to go to shows and museums. For convenience, we buy them online.

We use Ticketmaster to buy our tickets to shows in town for most convenience. It is the official ticket marketplace for thousands of the world’s biggest events, performers, teams, and sports leagues.

Tiquets

is a handy resource for booking tickets to events, museums, and attractions all over the world. They have a convenient instant mobile booking technology.

For readers who travel – and travelers who read

I love to read, and I believe there is no better way to spend long hours on a flight other than reading a good book. Or short stories. And I also like to bring a guidebook to the place I travel to, especially if it’s my first time there. My favorite travel books are published by Lonely Planet. After using their guidebooks for years, I actually ended up writing a few articles for them, and now I am also an affiliate. If you buy a book – any book – from Lonely Planet using the link from this site, use the coupon EMESEFROMM01 FOR 10% off your purchase.

I have to admit, for years, I was adamant about only reading physical books; I love the feel of paper in my hands, I love to turn the pages of a book. However, books add weight and bulk to our carry-on. And, when we try to travel light, bringing only a carry-on for weeks-long trips even to Europe, we have no place for physical books. The Kindle Paperwhite is a great option for reading material during travels.

Electronics you can’t travel without:

We can’t travel without our phone, so we can’t travel without a power bank. This is the latest one I bought, so far seems the best we own; it is lightweight but also lasts much longer than the older lightweight we used to have. It is a climate-pledge-friendly product – which I always try to look for, when possible. Plus, we just love the paw print light on it, and it comes in different colors, so you can choose your favorite.

Since we travel in multiple countries, we don’t leave home – for international destinations – without a universal power adapter. I remember the times when we had to search in specialty stores to get them, and we had to get separate ones for each country we visited. The universal all-in-one travel adapter is much more convenient. Since it is only one piece, we don’t have to worry about finding all the pieces, and we can take it anywhere.

Staying Hydrated

We don’t leave home without a water bottle. And we have several different varieties, most of them stainless steel. I was desperately trying to get away from plastic.

However, our latest favorite is the LifeStraw Go water bottle. My daughter asked for it about a year ago, and since I bought one for her, she’s been using it all the time. We like it because you don’t have to worry about where your water comes from, it always gets filtered. Since we travel in so many different places, we feel it was a great investment. While it is plastic, it is BPA-Free, and it lasts for years – including the filter. Then you can also replace the filter when needed. To top off the positive on my list, the company is certified climate-neutral.

Since we bought ours, they even started making a stainless steel version, which is going on my Christmas list.