The first thing you need to know is that travel planning should be fun. It’s not easy to plan the perfect international trip or to organize the most epic adventure, but if you face the process with joy and excitement, you are halfway to an unforgettable journey.
Second, you need the best tools/websites to plan and book your trip, followed by trustworthy travel advice. And that’s why we are here, to share with you travel tips a list of websites, platforms, companies, and brands we use, trust, and feel confident to recommend to you.
You will find everything you need below, from the travel planning stage to the trip itself and post-trip. It’s an enormous travel resource that goes from transportation, accommodation, and guides, to apps and how to stay connected during the trip.
We added at the end of this travel planning list a section with all the things we use and love, from photography gear to luggage to sand-free towels, just in case you want to pack smart items for your next holiday. This insightful page ends with our blogging resources to help you turn your passion for traveling into a hobby or a business.
That’s it, take your time to read everything carefully and bookmark this page because I’m sure you will come back for your next trip planning. For travel budget tips, check out our Costs of Traveling page.
Where to find the best and cheapest flights
|One of the most trusted travel search websites, Skyscanner offers an easy price comparison tool for booking flights (their flagship), hotels and car rental. Their results include many budget companies that are left out by other similar platforms. With the “everywhere” destination feature, undecided travelers can research the cheapest flights on that period for anywhere in the world.
|Kiwi.com is a travel tech company that aims to become the first Virtual Global Supercarrier. They offer some of the lowest deals on flights, trains, hotels and car hire, with 24/7 customer support. On their platform, you can set price alerts and have offline access to your tickets. They also have the Kiwi.com Guarantee to solve issues with delayed or canceled flights and missed connections.
|Google Flights is a powerful search engine that gathers updated airfares from many airlines and travel agents in a single place, as a way to save time and money. Google’s travel solution is considered one of the most complete and easy to use. Their calendar and map features help travelers find the best prices and cheapest routes without much effort.
Where to book buses, trains and shared rides
|Formerly GoEuro, Omio is a platform for travel planning in Europe. On Omio you can compare and combine buses and trains all in one search and find all the possible routes, including distances and timetables. Advanced filters allow you to accommodate personal requirements and spend less time sifting through such details.
|Bookaway is a platform for booking ground and sea transport, mostly in developing countries like Thailand, Philippines, Vietnam, Bolivia, and many others. They have a large selection of options and budget deals from different companies. Also, accurate reviews by real users and flexible cancellation policy.
|12Go is a multi-modal travel agency, with a growing world coverage, to book buses, trains, flights, ferries and vans. It has multilingual live support and a mission of providing cost-effective transportation choices for travels in Europe, Asia and other regions, such as Mexico, New Zealand and Australia.
|FlixBus is a tech-startup/bus operator connecting countries and cities throughout Europe with an innovative and user-friendly booking system accessed via FlixBus App. The company is focused on sustainability, offering green buses and low fares to around 800 destinations – a growing route network. There’s free Wi-Fi onboard, GPS live tracking, and an automated delay management system. We have used it many times, and although it’s not the most comfortable option for long journeys, it works very well for trips of 4 to 6 hours.
|Rome2rio is a door-to-door travel platform and booking engine to search for possible routes, transportation modes, schedules, costs, and journey durations. Rome2rio enables travelers to quickly compare flights, trains, buses, ferries, rideshares, and car rentals, while also taking a look at directions in a single search. We use it mostly to discover the best routes and types of transportation available, as we don’t find the price information accurate, and the booking process is not straightforward.
|Eurail is not a train operator, but a rail pass that offers non-European residents access to tens of thousands of destinations over 30 countries in Europe. It’s a flexible and convenient way to plan a Eurotrip’s itinerary and explore the continent for a set amount of days without having to book single tickets for each leg. Some of the pass benefits include access to certain attractions and discounts on bus or ferry routes, hostels, and restaurants. For more info about Eurail read our review about Eurail Global Pass and Eurail Scandinavia Pass.
|BlaBlaCar is a carpooling platform that has the largest community in long-distance ridesharing. It connects travelers that need to go from one point to another with vetted drivers heading that way, thus sharing the cost for doing so. We have used BlaBlaCar a couple of times and saved good money with it. It’s also an environmentally friendly social experience. Read about our BlaBlaCar experience here.
Where to find the best hotels and hostels
All the booking platforms we use to search and book hotels, hostels, resorts, and private apartments around the world are listed below. However, if you want to know our tips and tricks to find the best places to stay read our Accommodation Guide here.
|Booking.com is a well-known hotel booking platform that offers from budget-friendly accommodations to luxury hotels and villas worldwide. They have a vast selection of hotels, hostels and resorts, trustworthy reviews, competitive prices, and, in some cases, a very flexible cancelation policy. During our travels, it’s our first choice when booking accommodation.
|Agoda is another leading travel booking platform, with all types of accommodation (houses, apartments, villas, hostels, luxury, and budget hotels) spread all over the world. In Asia, it’s usually unbeatable in terms of options and rates. The website is easy to navigate, and when we travel to Southeast Asia, we always make sure to check it out.
|The popular Airbnb connects travelers and hosts in a user-friendly platform for private home rental. On Airbnb you can get just a room, the whole flat/house, or even a castle, a cabin, a treehouse. There are many unique (and surprisingly affordable) places to stay worldwide. The personal profiles, ratings, and reviews have always helped us find reliable hosts and homes away from home – book your stay through our link and get a discount on your first booking!
|Hostelworld is THE platform when it comes to booking hostels around the globe. With a straightforward search system, on both desktop and mobile app, and an enormous and growing hostel database. Their millions of trustworthy reviews always help backpackers and travelers to find the ideal bed or room at a hostel, no matter how simple or fancy it is.
|Couchsurfing is a global community through which hosts accept travelers in their homes at no expense for either. Using this free platform, couchsurfers have an opportunity to save money, get to know the local way of life and make new friends. Their app also promotes local meet-ups as another alternative for cultural exchange. Note: as of MAY/2020, Couchsurfing is charging a small fee to keep the platform running.
|Love Holidays is an online agency specialized in travel packages. They offer a wide range of experiences (including flight and accommodation) for many destinations. From summer getaways to winter escapes, they provide from budget to all-inclusive options for families, couples and friends, with 24/7 phone support available.
Where to search the book the best car rentals
|Rentalcars is an online car rental platform present across 160 countries, where you can research car options, compare prices between companies and book a car of your choice and budget. They offer 24/7 support before, during and after the trip.
|Auto Europe is one of the global leaders in car rental services. They have some of the best car rental deals on the market and comprehensive world coverage. With Auto Europe you can also rent sport and luxury vehicles, campervans and motorhomes, as well as book airport transfers and chauffeur services.
We’re crazy to quit our jobs and ditch a good life in Brazil, but we’re not nuts to travel around the world without insurance. While doing our travel planning, we researched a lot and found three companies that offer comprehensive coverage, straightforward policies, and good customer service. Safety Wing and HeyMondo are the travel insurance we use, you will find info about them below, and you can also read our guide on how to choose the best long term travel insurance.
|SafetyWing is our preferred travel insurance provider, as we consider it the best option for long term travelers like us. It’s flexible, affordable and straightforward. You can sign up for it even if you’re already traveling, and young children are covered free of charge.
What to use beyond public transportation
|The famous app came out as a cheaper alternative for taxis and became a reference. Uber is available in many cities throughout the world, offering ride-service hailing, peer-to-peer ridesharing, and food delivery (through Uber Eats). We have used it mostly in Europe and South America, but it also works fine in China.
|Grab is Southeast Asia’s leading mobile technology. Such as Uber, it connects drivers and passengers as a ride-hailing taxi app, but it’s more present and frequently used in Asia than Uber. It’s convenient, safe and affordable. They also deliver food, documents and packages on demand.
|Mobike is a bike sharing company, the first to debut a station-free technology. They have a patented bike design with a smart lock system, and an app to provide access to the bikes when and where the user needs. It’s a green option for short urban trips. We used it as a green and cheap alternative to public transportation in our home city and while traveling.
Tours, Experiences and Skip the Queue Tickets for Attractions
|Get Your Guide
|GetYourGuide is a platform that gathers activities for all ages and interests across the globe. They work with local tour operators offering unique experiences that can be safely booked online and easily cancel if something comes up. They also provide skip the line access to top tourist attractions and have a customer service able to help with personalized recommendations. Get Your Guide gets extra points for offering excellent tours and guides in different languages.
|Local tours, led by local people. TakeMeTour is an online marketplace specialized in day trips and guided tours in Thailand. Their Local Experts offer travelers hundreds of authentic tours in over 40 Thai cities. They also arrange transportation and meals. We have had many incredible experiences with TakeMeTour and recommend it.
|Adrenaline Hunter is a pioneering platform for booking recreational and extreme sports worldwide, based on the elements of air, snow, land, water, urban and crazy. The startup presents adventure seekers more than 7,000 sport and outdoor activities to choose from, including camps, workshops, and adventure trips.
|Learn how to make traditional dishes while having a cultural immersion. Cookly is the largest platform for booking foodie experiences and cooking classes worldwide. Through their website or app, Cookly connects top local chefs and cooking teachers with food enthusiasts (aren’t we all? lol) in over 150 destinations. They aim to make food heritage accessible all across the globe.
|G Adventures is a leading company in sustainable community tourism. They have a wide selection of small-group tours and expeditions to destinations on all the seven continents. No matter the budget or traveler profile, you can book escorted tours with friends and/or family featuring the full package: adventure, accommodation, genuine cuisine, and local transportation.
|A walking tour company born in Rome present in the most popular cities across Europe and the USA (and expanding). Walks offer history, food, and cultural tours in passionate and immersive ways. They can grant fast access to some of the world’s most iconic attractions and landmarks with their skip-the-queue tickets.
|Lonely Planet guidebooks are iconic and a top-rated travel info source among budget travelers and backpackers. They have inspiring and reliable travel guides for any destination and have been awarded many times. With four decades of work and counting, their coverage and reach are massive. Also, they try to reinforce responsible traveling and sustainable tourism.
|Another leading travel publisher with a lot of baggage, Rough Guides is known for its “tell it like it is” writing style, using a straightforward approach on their guidebook series of expert travel advice. Their vast and ever-growing amount of guides for every type of traveler can be downloaded as eBooks, so you don’t need to carry the weight of such a comprehensive guide around.
For planning and using during the trip
|A revolutionary and globally used tool to go around, Google Maps is basically a free map service powered (and continuously updated) by Google. You can access it as an app or through a web browser, online or offline (just have to download/save the city map in advance). With a simple interface, it shows routes, traffic conditions, public transportation timetables, attractions, and businesses along the way.
|XE is a trustworthy online currency converter – the company itself offers other currency exchange services. They provide live accurate currency information on their mobile app. They also have a travel expense calculator and rate alerts that you can set to be notified when a desired mid-market rate for your currency pair is available.
|Another popular Google product, Google Translate is a free automated translator with a massive and ever-growing database, supporting over 100 languages at various levels. It allows the translation of texts, documents, entire websites, and even menus if the camera function on in the app is turned on. Plus, it provides pronunciation and works offline – just gotta download the language you need.
|As the name suggests, this is an Accurate Weather information source. On their app or website, they forecast live temperatures and weather conditions for every location around the world. AccuWeather also has real-time alerts and weather warnings that can keep travelers out of harm’s way.
|SmugMug is a premium (so that means it’s paid) photo sharing/hosting service. They offer unlimited storage and full image resolution, and can even handle billing and shipping of photos sold by users at a single platform. Their software enables galleries, portfolios, and websites creation with easy-to-use templates and tools. This is the place where we kept all our photos and videos.
|We always learn a few sentences in the local language before traveling to a new place. Now we are focusing on becoming fluent in Italian. Every day we invest 20 minutes of our time studying Italian using the Mondly App. The app has more than 50 million downloads, 4.7/5 stars rating, and 3 different plans. You can pay per month, per year, or one payment giving you access to over 40 languages.
Travel Gear and Accessories
What we use and love
|Standard Luggage Co. is a crowdfunded company that sells luggage and travel gear online. We use and totally recommend their carry-on backpack and daily backpack, which are made from water-resistant material and have a comfortable and efficient design. They’re light, perfectly sized, modern looking, adaptable, have a reasonable price and can be shipped anywhere in the world.
|American Tourister is a luggage brand owned by Samsonite. Soundbox Spinner is their expandable zipped polypropylene suitcase, featuring a TSA lock and a colorful groovy look. It’s gorgeous, spacious (with perfect interior compartmentalization), durable, has 4 smooth-rolling wheels and comes with a 3-year warranty. It’s our choice for checked luggage.
|Tesalate sand-free towels
|A brilliant idea that started a sand-free revolution. Tesalate produces innovative towels that not only repel sand (completely); they also absorb moisture, dry quickly, feel soft and light, fold up small, and look fantastic. Rob gave me one, which is an essential item for our summer (and winter) holidays. It can be used on various occasions, and it’s a great travel gift.
|Fitbit Ionic is a GPS smartwatch and fitness tracker. It features health and wellness insights (hands up for the female health tracking), 24/7 heart rate, phone-free music, on-screen workouts and several other (sport and unrelated) functions, all with a long battery duration and a cool design. It works perfectly during outdoor activities and adventures, and it’s my fave smartwatch so far.
Travel Photography Gear
People ask about our photography equipment quite a lot. It’s easy to understand why, as Rob’s photos on Love and Road Instagram and videos on our Youtube channel have high quality and tell beautiful stories. To make your life easy, we listed the apps and software he uses to edit and our photography gear.
For editing photos, Rob uses Adobe Lightroom. For editing videos, he uses iMovie and inShot. Veedyou is a company that edits videos, you upload the footage, brainstorm the idea, and they edit the video for you, very handy.
Work While Traveling
Do you want to make your money last longer? Or make some money on the road? There are ways to work while traveling, or to trade some of your expertise for accommodation, food, and money.
|Trusted House Sitters
|TrustedHousesitters is a paid network that connects homeowners with travelers willing to look after their place while they’re away on vacation or long term traveling. The verified sitters will handle domestic chores, such as watering the plants, feeding and taking care of any pet in the house (as if it was their own) in exchange for free accommodation. Trusted House Sitters works with an annual membership, and you can apply for as many house or pet sittings as you want during the year. Read about our experience as pet sitters here and follow our tips to get the best house sitting opportunities.
|Global Work & Trave
|Global Work and Travel is a platform that organizes working and meaningful travel experiences worldwide. They have working holidays programs, volunteering opportunities, and working positions around the world. Think of experiences like volunteering in South Africa, teaching English in Korea, becoming an au pair in France (read our guide about au pairing here), or being an intern in Hong Kong. You book the whole trip through the platform and receive their help and orientation to plan a living, working, and traveling experience abroad that goes beyond tourism. When booking your experience use our promo code LOVEANDROAD and get 50 off (in any currency) on the trip you choose, this is on top of any website promotion.
|Worldpackers is an online platform that connects travelers willing to learn and exchange their skills for accommodation, or volunteer in experiences with NGOs and ecological projects around the globe. Their goal is to democratize travels and meaningful cultural immersion through a community of diversified hosts from more than 150 countries.
|Workaway is a sharing community of travelers who want to see the world while giving back to the places they visit. The platform puts travelers and hosts in contact in many destinations worldwide where they can trade their skills and work for accommodation, food, or paid opportunities.
|WWOOF stands for WorldWide Opportunities on Organic Farms, and it’s an organization linking travelers with organic farmers and growers. The farms offer local experiences, food, and accommodation in exchange for the work in the crops. It’s an excellent opportunity for people who want to minimize their traveling costs, have local experiences, and promote organic movement.
|Teaching English Abroad
|Teaching English abroad is an excellent way to make money while traveling and immersing yourself in the local culture at a deeper level. To do so, you need a TEFL certification. Investing in a new career before traveling can be a smart way to move abroad and live for long periods in different countries while having a steady income.
|Import Dojo Class Course
|There are several opportunities to set up an online business. Rob did a course to learn more about e-commerce called Import Dojo Master Class Course from Manuel Becvar. He has more than 10 years of experience in e-commerce, and the course is very detailed.
|You can find thousands of online courses, from basic skills to masterclass on the Udemy platform, learn about SEO, photography, writing, video editing, cooking… Pick something that sounds interesting to you and start a new career or business that can help you to make money while traveling.
Travel Blogging Resource
Thinking of creating a travel blog? The first thing you need to decide is if you want to blog for your family and friends or if you want to set up a business. Second, is to educate yourself as much as possible, so here are the courses that helped us to leverage our travel blog business:
|Super Star Blogging
|We wish we had done this course before setting up Love and Road, we would have avoided so many mistakes. On SuperStar Blogging, you will find information about everything, from writing to technical issues, and how to face your travel blog as a business. Totally worth the investment if you want to take your blog to a professional level.
|A practical, easy to watch, and quick course about creating new projects. The course helps you to organize your business ideas, put them in practice, validate them, and work towards creating a business that brings you meaning, money, and freedom.
Here are the services, platforms, and apps we use to run Love and Road:
|To run Love and Road in English and Portuguese, we use WPML. This plugin works perfectly to run the blog in 2 languages.
|Keysearch is a powerful tool to search for valuable keywords, check the metrics of your website, compare pages, and even monitor the keywords your competitor is ranking for. We used it as our primary tool for doing KW search, and SEO optimize our blog posts.
|We use Picmonkey to create eye-catching images for Pinterest and designs to share on our social channels. It’s an easy tool to use, with a good range of editing and creating options. They also offer templates and stock photo free for use. You can choose between the free version or pay a subscription to have all the features.
|Buffer is a platform for social media scheduling. It has a free version with a limited number of social channels you can link to, and different paid plans where you can choose from basic features up to full reports and social media posting automation. What I like is its clean layout, easy to use tools and customer service.
That’s a wrap! We’ll update this guide as we travel and discover new websites and tools for travel planning. Come and check it frequently or subscribe to our newsletter here and receive our travel updates and deals monthly.