My top travel sites, gadgets, & gear after ten years of travel
Booking cheap flights
Pro-tip: Use an incognito browser window when searching for flights or hotels (in Chrome, go to File > New Incognito Window). Flight and hotel booking sites save your cookies (information) to ensure you never see a lower rate than the one you've seen before, so if you use an Incognito window, you'll get the best deals.
Google Flights is the first site I use when researching flights. It lets you input your departure airport and see how much flights will cost all over the world. Plus, it suggests different dates to get you the cheapest flight possible.
Skyscanner is a flight search engine that finds the cheapest flights available – I like it because it includes many budget carrier that bigger sites miss. To date I have found my cheapest international flights with Skyscanner.
Airfarewatchdog is a site that finds airfare deals and tracks flight prices with fare watcher alerts. I use their site to monitor price drops for flights I want. Skyscanner is another great site for setting price alerts.
Hotels.com is a hotel booking website that I like because it gives you a free night if you book ten nights (the free night price being an average of your other stays). It also has lots of listings and it's easy to customize your search.
Agoda is a hotel booking site that has more listing in Asia than any other site. When I’m traveling Asia, this is the site I use 99% of the time.
I've recently grown to love booking.com because I find it has the cheapest overall rates with the largest inventory of accommodation. I've used it a lot in Africa especially!
Hostelworld is a hostel booking website that lists hostels all over the world. I've used Hostelworld for nearly ten years and it's still the best hostel booking site on the web.
Couchsurfing is a site that connects you with local hosts who let you stay in their home for free. I've stayed with Couchsurfing hosts all over the world and have always had an amazing time. It's a great way to save money and get to know locals.
Uber has changed my life as a traveler. Living in Uganda, taxis are unsafe after dark. But with Uber I can get home safely and cheaply.
New to Uber? Get $20 off your first ride here.
Megabus is a bus company that operates in the US and the UK. When I was in university in Chicago, I took the Megabus all the time. It's cheap, comfortable, and is a LOT faster than Amtrak!
Train line is a train booking website that can score you incredible deals. It can help you purchase tickets in the UK, France, Italy, Spain, and several other western European countries.
Eurail sells train passes that allows pass holders to travel to 28 European countries. When I was 17, I spent six weeks traveling Europe with a Eurail pass and had an incredible time – highly recommended!
BlaBlaCar is a ridesharing website that connects drivers and passengers. All the passengers have to do is chip in for gas! It's very affordable. I used it when I lived in France and always had good experiences.
If you’re booking European train travel, Rail Europe is the right site to help. Rail Europe combines maps, schedules, and fares for train companies across Europe, making it super easy to book your train trip.
This is hands-down my favorite carry-on suitcase. It’s light, well-designed, and has lots of pockets and a laptop sleeve. Love! See my full review here.
I love this backpack because it’s sturdy, spacious, and (mysteriously) never looks dirty. If I’m on a bus or plane, I check my larger bag but keep this backpack with me, as it houses all of my electronics and valuables.
While I used to use a traditional backpack, I now use a rolling backpack. I love it because I avoid back pain and have more room. I specifically love the Osprey rolling bag because it's durable, easy to maneuver, and attractive. And if you need to put it on your back, it does have backpack straps.
A universal adapter is essential for travelers – this one has four plug adapters: US, Australia/NZ, Europe, and UK. Plus, this one also has two USB ports so you can charge your cell phone or Kindle.
This portable charger lasts a long time but is very compact. I've used it everywhere from Coachella to Jordan, and it's saved me multiple times.
I love this power strip because it has so many outlets: two regular outlets, three USB outlets, and one USB-c. Bonus – the cord is super long!
I absolutely adore my Kindle. I used to waste a third of my suitcase on books and now I can carry 3,500 books in this device. Best of all, no more searching for English-language bookstores! Plus, this one is backlit so you can read in otherwise dim lighting.
Packing cubes make packing and unpacking something that takes seconds rather than minutes, I've used several brands of packing cubes, but my favorite kind are Eagle Creek- they're super sleek, durable and surprisingly spacious. I swear by them and bring them on every trip.
This eyemask is the best $7 you’ll ever spend. It’s extremely soft and blocks out the light. With the help of an eyemask, I can fall asleep basically anywhere, including a noisy hostel common room in the middle of the day.
Headlamps come in handy all the time as a traveler. In a hostel dorm at night and don't want to wake anyone while you rummage through your suitcase? Headlamp. On a camping trip and can't find the tent? Headlamp.
When I want to carry on my luggage, Gotoobs containers for my body gel, face wash and conditioner. While I’ve tried other brands, Gotoobs are the best.
I always get travel insurance on international trips. This is for two reasons; to pay for hospital care in case of injury or illness, and two, to protect my gear. I've used World Nomads for years and highly recommend them.
Girly travel essentials 💁
Instead of a quick-drying towel, I pack a quick-drying robe. I love this robe because it's so big and comfy, and makes using coed showers in hostels so much less awkward. I even use it when I'm not traveling!
I use this facial sunscreen every single day. It's the only sunscreen I've ever found that doesn't smell like sunscreen- it goes on just like lotion.
For my body, I swear by Sun Bum sunscreen. It smells like a Piña Colada so it just reminds me of vacation. The only downside is that it runs out fairly quickly.
Tieks are my favorite travel footwear for travel in Europe or North America. They are made with beautiful leather, look chic, and fold up neatly, taking up zero space in your bag. Tieks are pricey, but well worth the investment.
When I'm traveling in tropical regions, I more or less live in flip flops. But I count flip flops as essentials no matter the weather- hostel showers can be sketchy in any part of the world. I've worn Reef flip flops since I was 14 and swear by them- they mold to your feet and are so comfy.
The Wet Brush has changed my life. At first I was skeptical – a brush that magically keeps tangles out of your hair? Yeah right. But seriously, the Wet Brush makes brushing my hair post-shower a task that takes 30 seconds, not ten minutes.
My Canon EOS Rebel is my baby (I have an older version) and I take it on all my travels. While I’m thinking of upgrading to a mirrorless camera soon, it does take fantastic pictures.
This is a prime lens (meaning you can’t zoom) that beautifully blurs the background. It’s particularly good for food photography, portraits, and details, but keep in mind it's not the best for landscapes or interiors.
This memory card is so big that you never have to delete pictures on the fly to make room for new ones, and you can record HD video without worrying about space (which I never do, btw).
I absolutely love having a GoPro with me on my travels as it's perfect for water-based and adventure activities. Plus, I love the wide-angle effect it has on photos.
After years of losing memory cards, I finally got this memory card holder to store all of my SD and micro-SD cards. It seriously helps me stay organized!
The Adobe Photoshop and Lightroom bundle is a monthly subscription that only costs $9.99 a month. If you want to improve your photo editing, I’d highly recommend it.
Pro tip – check thepointsguy.com before opening a credit card to see which credit cards are offering big bonuses right now – that's how I got 100,000 points from Chase this year!
Mint.com is a free web-based financial management system that monitors your bank accounts. Mint is perfect for travelers – it notifies you if you are unnecessarily paying any foreign transaction fees and alerts you if there is a sketchy drop in any of your bank accounts.
When you open a Charles Schwab investor checking account, Schwab provides you with an amazing debit card. It allows you to take cash out of any ATM (international or domestic) with no transaction fee! By opening an investor checking account you also open a brokerage account – but this is no big deal and doesn't require you to do anything.
I love this card because it gives you double points on travel and food, my two biggest expenses. It also doesn’t charge international transaction fees and has a chip-and-pin, which is essential for traveling in Europe.
I’ve used HostGator for nearly five years and I’m very happy with it. It’s inexpensive and has a chat feature that allows you to quickly troubleshoot site problems with representatives. My site rarely, if ever, has problems.
I built my entire site with the Divi theme for Elegant Themes and very happy with it. The only downside? Posting questions in the forum can be slow. But overall the Divi theme is beautiful and easy to customize.
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