TripAdvisor (Hotels & Restaurants): Both the TripAdvisor app and the desktop version are great resources for booking hotels and restaurants. TripAdvisor has the simplest way to read reviews and while I don’t recommend relying on the reviews completely, they are one good way to measure if a hotel seems like a good fit for your needs. The platform also shows prices at a variety of different booking engine sites like Hotels.com, Booking.com, Expedia, etc. so you can get a great overview of prices without having to go through each individual booking site. For restaurants in the United States, I recommend using Yelp to read reviews, but for anything international, TripAdvisor will be your go-to resource.
Booking.com (Apartments): This is my go-to platform for booking apartments which is typically where I stay if I am on a longer trip and don’t want to eat out every night and need a washing machine. Booking.com has an incredible cancellation policy, so I always feel confident booking places in advance and then determining whether I will stay there or not closer to my departure date. To find the best place for you, I recommend searching by Best Reviewed first and then filtering that selection with the price point you want to spend per night. Once you find a promising apartment, make sure that it is in a good location by looking on the map provided and read reviews to make sure the Wifi is strong, bathrooms are clean, etc.
Hostelworld (Hostels): If you plan on staying at hostels during your travels, then Hostelworld is the perfect site to use for booking purposes. Hostels are the way to go if you are a solo traveler, budget traveler, or even traveling with friends but looking to meet new people. There are thousands of reviews on Hostelworld for hostels in every major city and they even allow for free cancellations. If you are unsure of where to stay in a particular city in Europe, check out my Best Hostels in Europe for Solo Travelers and Backpackers post! Filter by rating, find a place with a price that is in your budget, and double check the map to make sure the hostel is in a good location!
Airbnb: Airbnbs are a phenomenal way to stay at unique accommodations during your travels. In the Netherlands alone, you can stay in a cube house, windmill, or a houseboat, and all for reasonable prices because of Airbnb. It is also great for booking long-term stays because many hosts offer a great long-term discount. I did this in Budapest and was relieved to know that I could book a place for a month prior to my arrival instead of stressing about trying to find an apartment once I got there. Use my code here for $40 off your airbnb, if you have never booked with them before!
Google Flights: This is the BEST way to organize your flight options. I map out all of the potential flights to a destination using Google Flights and then I crosscheck prices with other sites. I also love that you can type in a departure location and then put in a continent ex. Europe for your destination and find the cheapest places to fly to throughout the whole continent.
Skyscanner: This is a great resource for flexible flight searches after you have seen your options on Google Flights. Plus, Skyscanner’s “Everywhere” function allows you to find the cheapest flights from where you are to anywhere in the world.
Expedia: If you are ever looking for a bundle deal, then Expedia is a great resource. You can get incredible discounts if you book your flights, hotels, and rental cars all together or some combination of the three.
Priceline: This is a great booking engine for rental cars within the United States. Prices change constantly for rental cars, so I encourage you to revisit the site on a daily basis and potentially even rebook your reservation multiple times when you spot a better deal on a car for your upcoming trip.
Best Transport in Europe: Be sure to check out this post for a better idea of the exact transportation you should take in the specific country you are visiting. Within the description of that country’s transport, I will have the best bus and train companies to book from as well!
FlightAware - This app provides up-to-date flight information and is a great resource if you are waiting for a travel partner to join you on your travels. You can search for any flight by airline, flight number, airport, or route which gives you multiple options if you don’t have specific information like a confirmation number.
WhatsApp - In many countries, people actually use WhatsApp as their primary means of communication as opposed to text message. So, if you are from a country like the United States where WhatsApp isn’t quite as popular, it would be a good idea to download the app before your trip to communicate with locals while you’re there.
Cloudways: I switched hosts to Cloudways based on the recommendation of the website developer I used to re-imagine my site and the difference has been incredible! Before I had even re-sized any images, my site speed time was cut in half. I had been using Bluehost for 2.5 years because I read all of those “how to start a travel blog” tutorials that recommended it. Well, I was naive at the time, but the reason for that recommendation is because Bluehost has a good affiliate program. If you take some time to read reviews, you will see that Bluehost may not host your site well, but it will host a ton of issues like Bad Gateway Errors, slow site speed, and inept live chat employees. I was about to switch to Siteground but was worried about CPU issues. Then I heard about Cloudways and I cannot tell you how thrilled I am to have chosen Cloudways instead! You should definitely strongly consider Cloudways as your hosting site. I am on the lowest Vultr plan which is about $10 per month.
Refined 316/Genesis Framework by StudioPress: If you are looking for a quality theme, Refined 316 on the Genesis Framework is highly customizable and has a classy, beautiful aesthetic. Many bloggers recommend starting out with a free theme and then upgrading to a paid theme once you are confident that you want to continue blogging. I don’t disagree, but if you go with a free theme from the beginning, just don’t wait as long as I did (2.5 years) to switch!
Tailwind: If you are blogger and not using Pinterest, then stop what you are doing, and sign up. Pinterest is a powerful search engine and a great traffic source for your website. Unfortunately, just like all of the social platforms we know and love, Pinterest has an algorithm where they expect you to be present on the app 24/7. No thank you! Instead, you can use Tailwind which automates and schedules your pins and is actually encouraged by Pinterest as they have a partnership. Tailwind optimizes your pins so that they pin to boards at the most opportune time for your audience. You can sign up for a free plan to try out the automation and then upgrade to a plus plan if you think the product is worthwhile.
Keysearch: If you are looking to have a better understanding of SEO (search engine optimization) and have your posts that you write rank higher in Google, then you should absolutely invest in a keyword research tool like Keysearch. To use Keysearch, you simply type in the name of the keyword that you would like to use ex. "things to do in Paris, France" and Keysearch will tell you how many people search that keyword monthly and how difficult it is to rank for that keyword. Click here to get 20% off Keysearch which you can try for free to determine whether or not you find it useful. Spoiler alert: you will.
Best Travel Gear
Below is a list of all of my posts detailing the best travel essentials plus a link to some of my favorite travel products! You can also check out my Shop page for more awesome travel accessories.
Click here to visit my Shop my Page filled with all my Travel Essentials!