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After a lot of trial and error testing out a countless number of apps and travel sites over the years, I’ve compiled my favorite travel tips and resources for you in this post. The main thing I want you to know is that travel is within your reach and does not have to be expensive! Here’s to taking some fun trips this year!
Sign up for the Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (US Citizens and nationals only)
- Receive important information from the Embassy about safety conditions in your destination country, helping you make informed decisions about your travel plans.
- Help the U.S. Embassy contact you in an emergency, whether natural disaster, civil unrest, or family emergency.
- Help family and friends get in touch with you in an emergency.
- My 10 Best Travel Hacks and Packing Tips
- The Best Way To Earn Free Flights And Lodging
- Student Universe – Exclusive discounts on flights, hotels and tours for students and young adults under 26
- Yapta – Automatically tracks price drops on airfare and hotels after you book and gets you refunds!
- Tripoto – social sharing community where you can earn discounted travel. Use referral code emilyedgrenadams when you sign up to earn free credits.
- SpareFare – Sell non-refundable flights and hotel reservations that you cannot use
Credit Card Points – The Best Cards For Earning More Free Flights and Lodging
Pro Tip: Do not get joint cards with your significant other, that way you can get a good deal two times. Sometimes an additional user on a card will preclude that person from getting their own card.
Budget Lodging & Work Exchanges
- TalkTalkBnb – Free lodging in exchange for practicing language skills
- AwardMapper – Search for hotels based on points required
- AwardHacker – Plug in your destination to find the lowest amount of points for a reward flight
- Airbnb – Get $40 off your first booking
- Holiday Swap – Seen that movie called The Holiday? It’s like that!
- WWOOF – Volunteer on organic farms in exchange for room & board
- Hostelworld – View reviews on hostels before booking.
- HelpX – Volunteering in exchange for food and lodging
- Workaway – Sustainable and cultural exchange
Pro-tip for hotel and car reservations: most can be canceled up to 24 hours before the day, so make your reservation and then check back often for cheaper prices. Rebook if you find something better.
- Tips For First Time Cruisers
- Cruise Compete – Compare offers from multiple travel agencies
- Start at Rakuten to get cashback on your cruise booking (I use Expedia)
Passports & Visas
- Check to see if your destination requires a Visa HERE.
- Get your FREE passport photo here
Funding A Honeymoon
- Intrepid – Balkan Adventure Review
- Contiki – Review of Western European Horizon Tour
- Urban Adventures – Day tours led by locals
- Global Greeters – Free tours led by locals
Booking Flights / Trip Planning
- Skiplagged – cheap deals found through hidden fares
- Secret Flying – this is an AMAZING site that shows super low cost error fares and creative ways to reach your destination cheaply. Check it often because deals go quickly!
- Hopper – a good tool for tracking changes in flight prices
- Wikibuy – use the extension to make sure you’re getting the cheapest flights
- Kayak – the Explore feature is helpful if you’re not sure where you want to go but want to see the cheapest destinations.
- SeatGuru – check out your seat map before you fly
- Rome2Rio – helps you plan your route and shows you the cheapest option to get from point A to point B. I use this on almost every trip I take!
- Triip – emphasis on booking travel with locals and they gift you a free tour once you make a booking with them!
- Tripsavvy – A great site to find out the best things to do in your destination.
Pro Tip: When asking for an accommodation of some type, such as ‘can you get us on an earlier flight’, or ‘can I have a car class upgrade’ if you do not get the answer you want, ask someone else (discreetly). Try asking up to 3 people to see if you can get the answer you want.
- TripHound – booking travel through this site donates money to save shelter dogs!
- Trusted Housesitters – for an annual fee, you can find housesitting opportunities around the world for free lodging in exchange for caring for pets.
- Rover – Find verified pet sitters (or sign up as a pet sitter/walker) with reviews to care for your fur baby while you’re away traveling. We have used this site a few times and had good experiences. You can get $20 off your first booking by using my link.
- Citymapper – Find the best combination of public transportation
- Maps.me – downloadable offline maps – great for places you won’t have WiFi
- Google Maps – my go-to when I can access my network or can access WiFi.
- Whatsapp and Viber – useful apps for free texting overseas
- WeChat – useful texting/calling app for those traveling in China
- Google Voice – set up a number before you travel internationally to save on calls
- Duolingo – learn many different languages in a fun, interactive way
- GlobeTips – Tipping etiquette based on country
- Zomato – Find good restaurants based on your interests and book reservations through the app. A Foodie’s BFF.
- Eatwith – Dining experiences, food tours and cooking classes around the world
- 6 Top Choices for Travel Insurance – This research-based guide will help you choose the option that is best to protect you. I have personally used Allianz and can vouch for it being a great option.
- Google Podcasts
- Amazon Kindle App – download books to read on your flight
- Try Prime Discounted Monthly Offering – download movies to your device before the flight!
- Gogo Entertainment App – some airlines offer free movies if you have this app
- Noise- Cancelling Headphones
- Book with Autoslash To Get The Cheapest Rental Car Rates
- Lyft – Earn Delta SkyMiles through booking a ride with Lyft. Use code EMILY6454 for your first ride.
- Turo – car-sharing app like Airbnb, lets you rent your car to others while not driving
- Bla Bla Car – like Uber but for Europe. Shared carpooling.
- Grab – An app for taxi service, food service, etc in Southeast Asia
- A Single Stop for European Rail Travel
Put Your Shopping To Work Toward Travel Expenses
- Online Cash Back Sites Where You Can Earn Easy Money For Shopping
- 8 Apps That Pay You To Scan Your Receipts
- 13 Best Money Saving Apps And Survey Sites
Saving, Building Credit And Reducing Debt
- Saver Life – Earn a free $60 just for consistently making savings deposits each month for 6 months
- CIT Bank High Yield Savings Account – the highest return of any savings account I have found. My husband and I love this one!
- Givling – Trivia App that pays off student loans (lottery system)
- Keep one solid credit card open and in use forever. It helps your credit score and will help you get approvals for new cards.
Packing and Luggage
- PackPoint App – free customized packing list based on destination and weather
- Nomatic – Life on the Move
- Travelon – anti theft purses and backpacks
- Packing cubes – The way I recommend keeping your luggage organized and avoid overpacking
- My Baggage – reasonable rates for shipping your luggage worldwide. Sometimes if you’re moving overseas, it’s more economical to ship rather than to pay for many extra bags on the plane!
Nutrition & Fitness (read my longer post HERE)
- My Amazon Storefront – easily access all the supplements and other products I use on my travels to stay healthy and fit.
- Achievement – Earn money for activities such as walking, meditating, logging food, sleeping, tweeting, answering surveys or opting into a challenge.
- Walgreens Balance Rewards – Earn money for tracking steps and healthy activities. You can redeem the points for cash at checkout.
- StepBet – Make a profit by meeting your activity goals.
- Google Fit – A simple app to help you keep track of your daily activity goals.
Checking In On Loved Ones While Traveling
Stay tuned as I will regularly be adding to this list of resources. I hope you find this list helpful. If you do, would you drop me a comment to let me know what has worked well for you? Also, let me know what other tools you use in your travels!
Until next time, thanks for reading and please share on your favorite social network so others can benefit from these resources as well.
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