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Travel Planning Resources
These are my go-to sites, products, and services for travel planning.
Hopper – Like many other apps on the market, this one predicts the best time to purchase flights and sends you notifications. Features I love are the color-coded calendar and detailed price forecast.
Kayak, Skyscanner, Google Flights – I use these three sites mainly for price comparison. The map features on both Google Flights and Skyscanner are great for figuring out where you can fly to for a set price. For instance, say you aren’t sure where you want to travel to but have $300 for a roundtrip flight. Set your departure city and price limit then everywhere you can fly for up to that price will be displayed.
JetBlue Credit Card – When flying in the US, I try to stay loyal to JetBlue. I like the dependability of the brand and I love the service I’ve received at check-in and in-flight. Additional card benefits include no foreign transaction fees, a discount on in-flight services and food, and trip protection.
Earning True Blue points is incredibly easy, as well as using the Barclaycard site (the bank that issues the card, formerly American Express). Since I began using this card in early 2015, I have redeemed points for one roundtrip flight to Cancun, Mexico and a one-way flight to San Francisco, California. And I still have a points balance to add to.
Booking.com – Search for and reserve accommodations of all kinds including hostels, hotels, b&b’s, and apartments. Use the map view feature to get a sense of nearby attractions, restaurants, etc. Read the fine print first, but most reservations include fee-free cancellation.
Get a $20 credit after you book and stay using THIS LINK. I’ll get a $20 credit, too!
Airbnb – Unique, quality rentals in the same locations as typical hotels but for a fraction of the price. Rent a room, apartment, or entire house in towns and cities all over the world.
New to Airbnb? Sign up using THIS LINK to try it out and get a credit on your first stay.
TripAdvisor – I’m one of those people who will read reviews of hotels on TripAdvisor. Actually, I always take the reviews with a grain of salt because I know that most reviewers confuse personal preference with helpful information. I appreciate customer photos because the perfect, professional photos aren’t always an honest portrayal of the property.
Couchsurfing – A dedicated community connecting over a shared passion for traveling. Find much more than just free places to sleep. Couchsurfing meetups happen all over the world to connect like-minded people over a meal or activity.
RELATED: Accommodation Reviews
World Nomads – I’ve secured insurance through World Nomads in the past, but have never needed to file a claim. I’ve had great luck in my travels and I hope it stays that way! Even if you think nothing would ever happen, the peace of mind knowing you’re covered in case something does happen is priceless.
Technology & Communication
Skype – Talk to other Skype users anywhere in the world for free or make low-cost calls to cell phones and landlines. Plus many other features.
WhatsApp – Free voice and video calls and text messaging while using the internet.
Banking & Finances
XE Currency – Get up to the minute currency exchange rates online and with a convenient smartphone app.
Charles Schwab Online Bank Account – Since Charles Schwab is an online bank and doesn’t actually have any ATM machines anywhere in the world, they will automatically reimburse fees charged to your account. These fees add up, especially if you mess up currency conversion and need to withdraw money multiple times. In order to make this work, you must apply for a High Yield Investor Checking Account. Don’t be intimidated by that title! Although the application process is multi-stepped (and may take a couple weeks) the savings over time will be worth it.
Lonely Planet, DK Eyewitness, or Fodor’s Travel Guides – I like certain aspects of each of these book brands and buy one over the other for different reasons. For city/region guides I lean toward DK Eyewitness Travel Guides and switch between Lonely Planet and Fodor’s Travel Guides for whole country guides.
The Aspiring Traveler’s Handbook by Jackie Nourse – This is the perfect book for first-time international travelers. Jackie touches on every aspect of planning international travel from how to choose a destination and getting passports/visas to accessing money while abroad and safety/packing tips. Also, check out the companion site The Budget-Minded Traveler for even more helpful information.
The Budget-Minded Traveler Blueprint – This course is a multi-media how-to guide for international travel. Expanding on the Aspiring Traveler’s Handbook, the course brings all the most practical steps from the blog and podcast together for you. It’s your very own personal shortcut to traveling sooner and smarter while saving more money. Read my full review.
Travel Rewards Programs
JetBlue True Blue – The points never expire, redeeming points for flights is a breeze, and they provide so many fun ways to earn points. Like the new True Blue Badges game.
Points for Surveys – Earn extra True Blue points in your spare time. Get points just for signing up, then receive personalized surveys by email.
Award Wallet – Keep track of all your award programs in one place. Includes airline and hotel reward programs, and others like Panera, Starbucks, and Regal Crown Club. Here’s a free upgrade coupon for first time users: free-iigwmp.
Here’s how I pass the time while traveling.
Amazon Prime is a one-stop shop for everything I could use for travel. I use my Amazon Prime account to shop for a lot of my travel gear, but I also use it for unlimited cloud photo storage, music, movies, and tv shows. Plus, you get a free Kindle e-book download every month and several ways to borrow e-books, too. The annual fee for Amazon Prime is only $99. That’s $8.25 a month for all that stuff! Try Amazon Prime with a 30-Day Free Trial.
Audible – Audiobooks are a great alternative to listening to music while traveling. They are especially helpful for those prone to motion-sickness. Also listen at home while you work out, clean the house, or go on walks. It’s easy to listen using your smartphone, tablet, or computer.
Load up on great new releases – or classics if you prefer – with this great deal: Try Audible and Get Two Free Audiobooks. There are 180,000+ titles available, so good luck choosing!
Here are some audiobooks I’ve enjoyed and recommend:
I have a fully loaded Kindle Fire that I bring with me everywhere. In addition to reading e-books on a Kindle Fire, you can browse the internet, play games, watch tv and movies using Amazon Prime or Netflix, and listen to audiobooks. I save loads of money on e-books by choosing a free monthly Kindle book and e-book sale announcements from BookBub and Goodreads Deals, all sent directly to my email. I also borrow e-books from the library to save money.
Read More: Must Have Travel Items
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