I created this page to highlight some of the resources and tips that I’ve either learned in my years of world travel or that I’ve found relevant and useful from other travel bloggers. Hopefully, this page can give you the basic information needed to plan and set up a trip – from a short vacation to a round the world trip.
TABLE OF CONTENT
Travel Planning Guides What to Do and Get Before Departing Travel Gear and Packing Tips Resources and Guides on Travel Hacking Excellent Sites to Find Cheap Airfares Round the World Tickets or Point by Point Tickets? Excellent Accommodation Sites I Use Top Travel Credit Cards Budgeting and Saving Money For and During Your Round The World Trip Companies I’ve Traveled With and Recommend Travel Inspiration and Entrepreneurial Books
PRE TRIP PLANNING
OVERALL RESOURCES TO PLAN YOUR TRIP
I’ve read these books/ebooks and I personally believe they are excellent resources for planning a round the world trip and even shorter vacations. It’s everything you need in one place.
The Ultimate Guide To Become Location Independent: I wrote this ebook with the hopes of creating one of the most complete guides of long-term travel planning and becoming location independent. With it, you’ll learn how to make a living through travel, and it’s not just travel blogging, but also other means of work on the road; in addition to how to travel for cheap or with barely any money.
How to Travel the World on $50 a Day: Travel Cheaper, Longer, Smarter: Written by Nomadic Matt, one of the biggest names in travel blogging, this book is full of tips and resources that will help you travel the world on a budget.
MORE DEDICATED GUIDES
These ones are more focused towards a topic or specific destination.
Lonely Planet: Lonely Planet is the world’s leading travel media company. Think of any country and they will have a guide about it.
Food Traveler’s Handbook: Great guide to eating well, understanding the culture through food, and food safety on the road.
Travel Independent’s country guides: Brief but informative guides per country.
WHAT TO DO AND GET BEFORE DEPARTING
Research your destinations: Know the best time of the year to go to each destination and how the weather will be. Weather can affect your trip dramatically, so it’s good to be prepared for it. Weather also affects high and low seasons, which in turns affects prices and amount of people. Usually, shoulder seasons are the best when it comes to a balance of prices and crowds. Here are some additional tips on choosing a destination.
Get travel insurance: This is one of the things you sort of hate to buy because you expect not to use it, but if for some reason you have an accident or get sick, you’ll be glad you have it. I wrote an extensive post pointing all the details on how to select the best travel insurance for your trip.
Good companies to choose are:
- World Nomads: They have one of the best, friendliest, and most flexible travel insurance for any type of traveler. World Nomads travel insurance is available to people from over 150 countries and covers for overseas medical, evacuation, baggage, and adventurous activities. (Save 10% with promo code: ADVENTURES )
- SquareMouth: Excellent site for budget insurance policy comparison.
Get or prepare a good First Aid Kit: Even the smallest First Aid Kit with the basics can help a lot with minor accidents and ailments. Check this post on how to create your own travel first aid kit.
Vaccinations: You should be up to date on your vaccines before you leave. Visit a travel medical clinic or your primary physician to get the necessary shots according to your trip’s destinations. Some countries do require a Yellow Fever vaccination proof to let you in.
Some shots you should consider having up to date are: Yellow Fever, Hepatitis A, Hepatitis B, Meningitis, Polio, Tetanus booster, Typhoid/Diphtheria, and MMR booster.
Consider carrying Malaria pills if you’re traveling to a country in a “Malaria zone”.
Get additional info:
- CDC’s Malaria Map
- CDC Traveler’s Heath recommendations
- World Health Organization’s Country-specific Reports
Understand your visa requirements: This will influence your trip’s timeline and dictate for how long you can stay in a country according to your passport’s nationality. Not all passports are created equal and some offer more freedom than others. This fun infographic shows you how many countries you can get in visa-free depending on your passport, but if you want to know specific details about your passport, including a list of countries that require visas among other information, search for it in Wikipedia or your local government’s travel/immigration page. (here’s a Wikipedia sample of Visa requirements for US Passports)
- For US citizens, go to the Department of State’s Travel Page for visa requirement information.
- Canadian citizens can find it here and UK citizens here.
- For all other citizens, including the above, IATA has a great database and so does Visahq.com (which also offer a service to apply for the visas).
Scan and PDF your important documents: This includes passports, IDs, driver’s license, and other documents. Send them to yourself by email or place them in Dropbox or other cloud services. It’s good to have digital copies of them in case they get lost on the road.
Get a Google Voice number (mostly for US-based travelers) and a Skype account: Google Voice gives you a free phone number to get and make free calls from/to the US. International calls are very cheap too. You can also receive emails of voicemail transcripts or texts messages.
Skype is a similar tool available internationally and it doesn’t depend on a phone number. They are excellent tools for when you need to call your bank from abroad, your parents, or simply to stay in touch.
- Google Voice
- Skype – Ideally, you could buy a phone number for $18 every three months to be able to make and receive calls with a real number. This is not necessary though to be able to use Skype.
Notify your bank: Call and let them know when and where will you be traveling so they don’t block your account/credit card thinking your purchase abroad is suspicious activity. Here are a few additional financial checks to do before you travel.
Get a travel-friendly debit card: When you withdraw money abroad, you will get charged an ATM fee as well as your bank’s fee for withdrawing outside their network.
For US and international based travelers, I recommend checking the Global ATM Alliance to see if your bank doesn’t charge to withdraw from any of the banks in the list (or to open an account with any of them if your bank is not on the list). And to US-based travelers I recommend opening a Schwab Bank Checking Account linked to a Schwab One brokerage account which allow you to withdraw money with any bank without any outside network fee, and they refund you the fee charged by the foreign bank. This is the debit card I use everywhere.
Back up your laptop or mobile device: If you are traveling with your laptop or mobile device, consider backing up your photos and files online. It’s good to have an external hard drive backup, but if something happens on the road and your backpack gets stolen, at least your pictures and files will be safe online.
These companies backup your laptop to the cloud:
Get a “point it” picture dictionary: If you’re going to a country where you don’t speak the language, a lot of things can get lost in translation, but pointing at images always seems to make things easy and clearer to understand. You can either get the ICOON Picture Dictionary, or download the ICOON app, or download images from the web and save them on your phone as you need them.
Lastly, this is a good planning checklist and schedule for those of you planning a RTW.
Start a travel blog?: Want to share your experience with your family, friends, and even with the world – and maybe make some money with it down the road to help pay for your trips? I wrote an extensive blog post showing step by step how to start a successful blog like a pro. In it, you’ll learn the tips and tricks I’ve learned these past few years of travel blogging. Click here to read it.
TRAVEL GEAR AND PACKING PRODUCTS
PACKING FOR YOUR TRIP
As a general rule, you should not carry more than 30% of your weight, or at least that’s what the Boy Scouts told me when we went camping. I’ll stick to that for now. I’ll be honest by saying that I’m breaking that rule at the moment. I carry a Gregory Imlay 22 as a daypack and a Gregory Z40 as a backpack (pictured here). My backpack weights around 11kg when full and, funny enough, the daypack weights around 13kg (that’s because of the electronics). I weigh 60kg, so if you’ve made the math you’ll see I’m a few kilos over. Even though I break that rule, I still follow these tips I give here to pack light.
I recommend both of my backpacks. They are light, sturdy yet flexible, and comfortable to fit on a small back (like mine). But, if you’re still not sure which backpack to select, here I show you all the important things to consider when selecting a backpack.
- MacBook Pro 13” Retina
- Nikon D5200 with an 18-105mm lens
- Sony Cyber-shot DSC-TX10
- Western Digital My Passport 2TB Portable External Hard Drive
- LaCie 1TB External Hard Drive
- Dark Energy Portable Backup Battery
- GoPro Camera
- Petzl Headlamp
- x-mini speaker
- Dynex Travel Adapter Plug
- First Aid Kit
- 12 t-shirts
- 10 underwear and socks
- 5 short pants
- 1 pair of jeans
- 1 jacket
- 1 rain jacket
- 1 pair of Havaianas flip flops
- 1 pair of Puma sneaker
- and a few extra items…
You can see in this other page a more detailed list of what I’m packing in each bag, which is all I’ve used to live on the road long term.
If you wonder where to buy backpacks and travel gear, you can find them at your local adventure shop, Amazon, and in the U.S. I also recommend REI (one of the biggest outdoor sports stores nationwide).
- Jaime of Breakaway Backpacker shares his travel gear for his 2nd RTW.
- Gerard of GQ Tripping shares his backpack and so does Kieu, for the females out there.
- Wandering Earl has a very good packing list too.
- Alexandra of Travel Fashion Girl has a comprehensive selection of packing lists according to country or region. Mostly targeted to women.
- Erin and Simon of Never Ending Voyage have one for digital nomads.
- Lastly, I want to share a few of my tips on how to pack light.
RESOURCES ON TRAVEL HACKING
TRAVEL HACKING GUIDES
Frequent Flyer Master: Through this ebook I have boosted my frequent flyer miles without actually flying. Great for travel hacking. I have used most of the tips included in this eBook, and its 20-minutes audio, to book a couple free flights from the US to Europe, Central America, and the Caribbean.
This eBook will help you get free flights using airline miles and credit card miles. It teaches you how to earn miles and how to redeem them for high-value awards, how to fast track to airline elite status, what to do when the airline says ‘no’, and much more. This eBook is the real deal; it guarantees that you will earn at least 25,000 miles in the first 90 days or get your money back.
Nomadic Matt’s Ultimate Guide To Travel Hacking: This is a good alternative to the guide above. While it is similar, it includes some additional tricks the other doesn’t have. It is a pretty complete guide and I recommend it equally to the other. I wrote a review about it here.
Travel Hacking For Canadians: This travel hacking guide is focused to maximize the benefits for Canadians.
EXCELLENT SITES TO FIND CHEAP AIRFARES
The trick of finding cheap airfares is to not buy after the first search. Once you see an airfare in one site, jump to another site and compare until you find the cheapest option. The following are all sites I use.
Kayak: Great starting point for searching cheap airfares, especially if you are based in or departing from the US.
Skyscanner: This is my go-to site these days. More often than not one of the cheapest sites, especially if your flight involves budget airlines that Kayak might miss.
Momondo: This one is great for international flights. Like Skyscanner, it is also often the cheapest site.
Vayama: Great for international flights outside the US. Sometimes it is way cheaper than other sites, but sometimes it is also more expensive.
Airfarewatchdog: This site monitors airline ticket prices to alert you when deals occur; many of them unadvertised in other search engines. Signing up for their newsletter is recommended.
ITA Matrix Search: I love this site! While you can’t book your flights here, you can check the real price of flights according to what is presented by the airline, not the search engine. This is my measuring tool to know if I’m getting a good deal somewhere else or if prices are just ok.
ROUND THE WORLD TICKETS OR POINT BY POINT TICKETS?
Round the world travelers get faced with this question all the time. Should I buy point-by-point airfares or a RTW ticket? I personally have gone the point-by-point method because I love the freedom and flexibility of staying longer in certain places or changing my route as many times as I want according to the experiences I’m having or any other form of inspiration I get on the road.
Still, I am aware RTW tickets are really good to save money on airfare if you have a structured itinerary and plan to follow it. RTW tickets do still allow for some flexibility in terms of delaying or moving ahead your departure as long as it follows their terms and falls within the 12 months validity of the ticket.
The three main RTW alliances are:
These companies, while not alliances themselves, can help you create a RTW itinerary or simply book separate itineraries:
- Airtreks RTW ticket options – the leader in RTW planning
- BootnAll’s travel planner – Also a good alternative
EXCELLENT ACCOMMODATION SITES I USE
Agoda: It has a good inventory and often with lower rates than other sites.
Booking.com: In my opinion, they have a better inventory than Agoda and sometimes they are even cheaper.
Hotwire: They have their “secret hot rate hotels” list, which gives you hotels for a much lower rate without telling you specifically which hotel is until you get it. It’s not scary since hotels tend to be good. They also have regular hotel rates.
Priceline: Different from Hotwire, Priceline allows you to bid the price for a hotel stay, allowing you to save money.
Hostelworld: This hostel site has the largest inventory and availability. I use it quite often.
HostelBookers: Quite similar to Hostelworld, but sometimes you find cheaper hostels here.
Couchsurfing: Couchsurfing helps you connect with people abroad to sleep on their couch or extra bed for free. But the site is not just for that, it’s also to meet people and explore with a local. I wrote a review on how to couchsurf.
Airbnb: Another site I love using often. Great to rent apartments/homes or rooms for short and long-term trips. They have a large inventory and is often the cheapest compared to similar sites. You can read my extensive review here. Additionally, you can get $40 off your first booking with this link.
Expedia: I don’t think it is the best search engine these days, but every now and then they can surprise you with a really good hotel or airfare deal, so worth checking.
TOP TRAVEL CREDIT CARDS
Travel credit cards offer huge sign-up bonuses that help you travel for free. Below I list some of my favorite cards and bonuses.
Chase Sapphire Card: This is my primary travel credit card since it offers no international transaction fees and gives you 2x points on travel purchases. It comes with a sign-up bonus of 40,000 Ultimate Rewards after spending $3,000 on purchases in the first 3 months. You can transfer those points to companies like United, Hyatt, Amtrak, and more. It has an introductory annual fee of $0 the first year, then $95.
Starwood Preferred Guest Card from American Express: This is my secondary rewards card. You can earn up to 30,000 bonus points when you get the card as well as a 5,000 points transfer bonus per 20,000 points you move/transfer to any participating airline (my preferred is American Airlines). There’s no annual fee the first year, and $65 per year after that.
United Mileage Plus Chase Card: This one is for United Airlines loyal customers. You get 30,000 bonus miles after you spend $1,000 in the first 3 months (easy!), free checked bags, no foreign transaction fees, priority boarding, and two United club passes. There is a $0 intro annual fee for the first year, then $95 each year after. I also use this one (in addition to the Sapphire) to accumulate more United miles.
American Airlines Citi Card: This one is for AA loyal customers. You get up to 35,000 bonus miles when you sign up, in addition to priority access, and free checked bags. AA is the airline I have the most points with, so for me, this is a good day to day credit card to use.
Barclaycard Arrival™ World MasterCard: Another really good travel credit card with a big bonus sign up. It gives you 40,000 points after spending $3,000 on the first 3 months. There are no foreign transaction fees and you get two points per dollar spent. Different from the previous two, this one is not attached to any airline, so good for those who are not loyal to a single company.
The US Airways Premier World MasterCard: With this card, you get up to 30,000 bonus miles with your first purchase (this is already a free domestic flight in the US), reduced reward redemptions, annual companion passes and free checked bags.
BUDGETING YOUR ROUND THE WORLD TRIP
Budget Your Trip: This site helps you have an idea of the daily budget you should have according to the country you’re visiting and your travel style. From my experience, it gives a good range of budgets, but always add 25%+ more to it.
In addition, I recommend looking at the budgets several other travelers had for their specific trips:
- Jaime breaks down to the cent how much he spent on his two-year RTW.
- Dave of Go Backpacking gives a good breakdown per country.
- Never Ending Voyage gives budget planning tips plus their budget for their entire trip.
- Almost Fearless gives an interesting technique to plan your daily budget.
- BootsnAll shares 10 different RTW budgets from real trips in their “by the numbers” section.
- I wrote this post on how much I spent on three years of travel.
On saving money before your trip
- I wrote this post giving 20 tips to save $1000 per month for your trip
- Nomadic Matt has a similar post on cutting expenses.
- BootsnAll also shares 28 tips on saving money.
- Adventurous Kate shows how she saved $13,000 in seven months.
On saving money while traveling
- yTravelBlog has an extensive list of 52 tips to save money while traveling.
- Independent Traveler focuses this post on saving money on food.
- These 7 tips by Wanderlust and Lipstick go beyond the common tips.
COMPANIES I’VE TRAVELED WITH AND RECOMMEND
Intrepid Travel: Intrepid offers really good small group tours all around the world that use local operators and leave a small environmental footprint. I’ve had a great experience with them.
G Adventures: This is one of the first companies I look when I’m interested in adventure tours. I have personally traveled with them several times and I never get tired of saying how great their tours are and how detailed their service is. They are very similar to Intrepid Travel.
STA Travel: A good company for those under 26 or are students. They offer discounted airfare as well as travel passes that save on attractions. I don’t use them that much anymore since I’m way over 26 but if you aren’t, make sure to check them out.
Rail Europe: If you are going to visit Europe and plan on taking a lot of trains, get a rail pass. You will save money a lot of money. I’ve used a rail pass three times and saved hundreds of dollars each time. The math just works. I use the company Rail Europe and suggest you do too. They even ship passes for free.
TRAVEL INSPIRATION AND ENTREPRENEURIAL BOOKS
Chris Guillebeau’s Unconventional Guides: Chris’ Unconventional Guides are a resource for “World Domination” and they deliver a powerful message through their high-quality content. Their goal is to help people do more of what they are most excited and passionate about. Each guide includes downloadable eBooks, audios, and videos; making the content easy to understand and entertaining.
The 4-Hour Work Week by Timothy Ferriss, Escape 9-5, Live Anywhere, and Join the New Rich: This is a very popular book about becoming an entrepreneur. It is one of those books you read and immediately you want to take action on it.
ProBlogger: Secrets for Blogging Your Way to a Six-Figure Income by Darren Rowse: This is another action inducing book but more specific to blogging; written by Darren Rowse, one of the biggest names in the blogging industry.
The $100 Startup: Reinvent the Way You Make a Living, Do What You Love, and Create a New Future: Another one of Chris Guillebeau’s awesome books. It is like The 4-Hour Work Week, but more actionable and in my opinion, sweeter!
Start a Freedom Business: This book is short and sweet. It’s enough to get you started on the basics of creating a business. And hey, it’s only $0.99!
The Art of Non-Conformity: Set Your Own Rules, Live the Life You Want, and Change the World: Yup, another book from Chris. This is his first book and probably my favorite so far. I’ve read it twice since I find it quite inspiring.
The Happiness Trap: This book is more about understanding what “happiness” is for you in a practical way and how to achieve it.