Friends and readers often ask me for travel advice, so I wanted to make an ultimate list of resources that I use frequently to aid in budget travel.
OSPREY Aether 70 Backpack – I’ve had three backpacks, two of them 40 L and this one 70 L. The other weren’t comfortable or sturdy. Osprey is a good, sturdy brand and I have no complaints about this pack so far. I fill my bag about half full so it is suitable to carry on. Really, you don’t need 70 liters to travel indefinitely (in warm weather at least), but it is nice to have the extra room to store food while on the go. A good bag makes all the difference when you’re tired, hangry, and walking around looking for accommodation. Do not cheap out when it comes to a backpack.
Klean Kanteen Stainless Steel Bottle with Sport Cap – I’ve been through many water bottles, but this has been my favorite. BPA free, can hold hot and cold liquids, has a loop for easy carrying, and a sport cap so it is Lianne-proof and won’t spill easily. It also makes it easily accessible to swig water instead of twisting off the cap. When traveling, we fill up our bottles with clean water with every opportunity to avoid having to buy plastic bottles. I would recommend the silver one, as opposed to the painted colors, because the paint has been chipping off. Adam’s silver one still looks great.
KEENS Whisper Sandal –The first time traveling, I wore converse and had cheap sandals. BAD IDEA. I craved foot massages constantly as my feet were always in pain. Over the years, I learned the value of good shoes. These Keens are the best travel shoes as they’re versatile and comfortable. I can walk on the road, on mountains, and through water. I prefer them to open-toe shoes so my toes are protected – there have been many times I was thankful I had on my KEENS when I accidentally kicked a rock.
Uniqlo Heat Tech – I discovered the power of these in Korea. The thin, lightweight, and stylish leggings and shirts really keep you warm. I travel with them even if I’m going to warm climates because I get cold easily. I’ve worn them during chilly nights in the Thai mountains and on freezing plane rides. They don’t take up much room in your bag, either. On the other hand, Uniqlo Airism has some great items for traveling in the heat. Well, I pretty much recommend Uniqlo for all of your simple fashion needs. Love that store!!
Kindle Paperwhite -“But I love the feel of a book!” you say. I know, I know. I’ve heard it, I’ve said it, and I agree. But the practicality of having a Kindle far outweighs the preference for a physical book in my opinion. I have thousands of hours of entertainment and information in one device, which would equate to an entire library which I wouldn’t be able to carry with me. I also was able to get new books from CouchSurfers! I love the Paperwhite because of the screen light. It doesn’t hurt your eyes and you can read in dark trains. Highly, highly recommend a Kindle!
SkyScanner – I use this tool first when searching for flights because this engine usually includes budget airlines such as AirAsia.com. After finding the cheapest flights, I usually go to the website of that particular airline and compare prices.
CouchSurfing – I search on CouchSurfing first before looking into hostels in destinations. I can go on and on about the benefits of CouchSurfing and have incredible stories and friendships through these experiences. Read about them here. I am working on a guide on using the site properly and increasing your chances of getting hosted in the future.
AirBnB – I used this only once, but plan to use it more in the future to help locals and get that feel of CouchSurfing, but with more comfort. We met a great person in Bangkok who was full of information and resources. AirBnB has some unique spaces up there.
HelpX – I use this to seek volunteer opportunities in exchange for accommodation. Workaway is another resource, but I read the HelpX stays more up-to-date with hosts. The membership is $29 for two years (can be used for one person or even a couple), but it is well worth it, especially compared to WWOOF which is more expensive. We’ve had some incredible experiences through help exchanges and I highly recommend checking it out!
HouseCarers – There are a handful of housesitting websites out there, but I ultimately chose to buy a membership to HouseCarers for Australia. Within the first day of buying the membership, I got two responses and set up Skype interviews with two clients. The membership is $55 AUD per year, but if you get one housesitting gig, you will make up for the cost of accommodation. Plus, it’s a fun way to see differents parts of the country you probably wouldn’t have gone otherwise. Read a quick housesitting guide here.
Cleartrip (India) – Used this in India constantly to book train tickets. Everyone told me to book trains ahead of time as they sell out quickly. They’re not kidding! As a non-Indian, you have to go through a few loopholes in order to reserve, like emailing them with your passport attached.
Seat61 – All about trains. Incredibly detailed.
Agoda – In some countries, it is cheaper to book a private room than a dorm (if you’re traveling with other people, that is). I’ve often gotten cheaper prices through Agoda than any other hotel booking site. Never had a problem with booking on Agoda.
Booking – Similar to Agoda, except you usually don’t have to pay anything until you get to the hotel and pay in cash. Sometimes, this is preferred for us, especially if we get to the hotel and it is not as we expected.
World Nomads Travel Insurance – It is a horrible idea to travel without traveler’s insurance. At any moment, anything can happen that is out of your control. I’ve met several travelers who got injured from riding a scooter around town. A trip to the hospital may suck all of your money away and thus end your travels. Insurance is something that you need to have, but hope you never have to need it. I’ve been to doctors and clinics in Korea, India, and Thailand, but they were cheap enough that I paid out of pocket. I only filed a claim when my phone was stolen in Cambodia. The terms were clear and easy to follow. I got a check in the mail within a few weeks!
Read the fine print and list of activities covered when deciding which kind of insurance you want. Peace of mind is worth it.
Maps.me – Download maps and use your GPS (you won’t need data or WiFi for it to work) to help navigate new territory. I use this daily.
Trabee – Recording daily purchases and budgeting during travel.
XE Currency – Stay updated on the current exchange rate
TripAdvisor – Good app to read reviews about restaurants, hotels, activities, and to browse the forums in various cities. Take every review with a grain of salt, though. Every person’s experience and values differ. I don’t mind having a squat toilet, for example, but others might complain about that.
Triposo Guides – Download entire travel guides in a particular country to use offline.
Charles Schwab High-Yield Checking Account & Debit Card – For Americans, the Charles Schwab debit card is the best one out there for travelers. Online banking is easy to use. Best of all, no ATM transaction fees worldwide! Those $5 every time you take out money can really add up…that’s enough to pay for a dorm bed! Save a bunch by getting this card before you go off and wander the world.
Capital One Venture Miles Rewards Credit Card – I do not know much about building and using miles, but I’ve enjoyed this credit card. Useful for purchasing big items like plane tickets and hotel reservations. Easier to dispute credit card purchases versus a debit card purchase as well. This card not only builds miles so you can subsidize travel costs, there are no foreign transaction fees! I’ve used this in Indonesia and Japan to pay for expensive meals when we treated our CouchSurfing hosts. Be smart about having a credit card though – only use money that you have (unless it’s an emergency). Build up your credit score to help you in the future.
Mint – Keep track of all of your banking accounts.
Favorite Travel Blogs
Intentional Travelers – Jedd and Michelle, a returned Peace Corps couple, provide invaluable information about meaningful and affordable travel. An inspirational website connecting travelers alike. Michelle’s other project, Blogging Abroad, encourages people who live abroad to share their experiences with people back home as a way to bridge cultures together.
Global Gallivanting – Anna’s informative blog specializing in all things India! She has a ton of travel experience and advice to offer. Reading her practical posts before and during travels in India calmed my nerves and helped with travel planning.
Curiosity Travels – Jessica taught English in Korea in addition to Spain. I found her posts about traveling in Southeast Asia especially useful. She breaks down her budget to the very last detail so you get a better understanding about how much it should cost to travel those countries.
Swig Meets World – Mike has traveled pretty much everywhere and is enthusiastic in sharing his travel tips.
Disclaimer: Some links on this website are affiliate links, from which I make a small commission at no extra expense to you using them. I only recommend services and products that I use myself and would never promote anything I don’t love!