Travel Planning

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Planning an adventure but unsure where to start? I’m here to help! I love travel planning and have been known to get lost in research as I seek to learn more about a new destination. Below I’m including my favorite travel resources to help you get started, and if you’re someone who can’t stand the thought of doing the planning yourself, reach out – I’d be glad to help!

Flights

Sign up for regular newsletters with discounted flight options from Scott’s Cheap Flights and The Flight Deal. Scott’s has both free and premium options and will include pricing from US cities outside of the typical NYC, LA and DC. I booked a trip from Nashville to Portugal for $530 using Scott’s newsletter. Amazing! The Flight Deal mostly features the larger US cities for departures but, if you find a great price, try looking up how much it would cost to fly from your city to the departure city. Sometimes, even with the additional flight, it’s still a significant saving.

Sky Scanner and Google Flights are my favorite search engines. You can search by city, country or, if you’re not sure where to go, search “everywhere”. I’ve used both of these sites to determine the best dates and destinations to travel based on price.

It’s no secret that websites and search engines track your every move online, but did you know that airlines use this information to increase prices based on your activity?  Outsmart the internet by using private browsing (sometimes called incognito) in your web browser.  Private browsing means that your searches and sites will not be tracked.  It’s the best way to shop for travel options including flights, accommodations, and even car rentals.

Accommodations

When I’m looking for a hotel, hostel, or guesthouse, I use Booking.com. They include plenty of photos, helpful reviews, and competitive pricing.  When I’m wanting a more local experience, I’ll book with Airbnb. I’ve had nothing but great experiences with Airbnb throughout the world. If you’re new to Airbnb, use this discount code to get $40 off your first trip!

Travel Guides & Inspiration

Well-known for their travel guides, Lonely Planet offers several options for supporting your trip planning.  They sell travel guide books (which you can check out for free at your local library!), PDFs to download, and free articles on their website. I often find myself here when I’m traveling to a destination I am less familiar with or looking for suggestions on top restaurants and accommodations.

Hands down, Pinterest and Instagram are my favorite travel planning tools. Both apps are filled with destination inspiration and links to help you plan. Pinterest is great for saving resources as you come across them. Going to Hawaii?  Type your destination into the search box and bam! you have a ton of sites which will keep you busy for hours. And Instagram? It’s all about the magic of a beautiful photo. I will follow tourism accounts for an upcoming destination and research any places that look intriguing. Instagram is another resource where I can get lost for hours.

My favorite small group travel company, G Adventures, is another regular stop for me when planning a trip.  I’ve booked two trips with them — Local Living Amalfi Coast and Costa Rica Quest — and have found tons of resources and tips on their website.  You don’t have to book a trip, however, to take advantage of their suggestions for itineraries, things to know about the region, and what to pack.

Must-Have Travel Apps

There is an endless number of apps out there for traveling and it can be hard to navigate through all the noise. While I will often download a new travel app to test out, I find myself sticking with a few tried and true apps to rely on in any destination.

  • TripIt – Keep all your itinerary plans in one place! Every time I book a flight, accommodation, tour, or reservation, I send my confirmation to be added to this app. The app will store all your plans together and provide you easy access to your confirmations at any time. This app works off-line and will send you flight updates, too.
  • Google Translate – Traveling in countries where you don’t speak the native language can be both exhilarating and challenging. I am currently enrolled in a Spanish class to become fluent in a second language but I’m far from there at the moment. This app helps me communicate with locals and can also be downloaded for offline use.
  • Xe – A currency app that regularly updates to reflect the most recent conversion. This one works offline, too, and is especially useful when trying to determine if you’re being ripped off while shopping in other countries.
  • Google Maps – Of course, we all use Google Maps in our every day lives but did you know this can be downloaded for offline use, too? Choose an area on a map and download for 90 day use.

My Favorite Travel Blogs

One of my closest friends, Tausha, maintains an awesome travel blog called The Globe Getter. She’s on a mission to see the world without quitting her day job, and she’s doing a great job at it! This site is full of travel resources, destinations, and tips and she’s been featured in several publications along the way.

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Nomadic Matt is another great resource for travelers. Matt is all about budget traveling and has even published a book on how to travel for less. His site is loaded with destination guides and has become pretty well known in the world of travel bloggers for his reliable, down-to-earth tips to travel better, cheaper, and smarter.

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Solo Female Travel Resources

Solo traveling is one of my favorite ways to travel! My first trip abroad was solo and I loved it. Honestly, the hardest part of solo travel is booking that flight. Flights alone often cost the most money and the moment before clicking ‘purchase’ is when I have the most fears swirling inside my head. Once I’ve arrived in my destination, I can’t hardly wait to get started!

Traveling solo is great but I’d be lying if I didn’t say being a female solo traveler requires extra caution. There are many resources out there with advice and I’ve found Be My Travel Muse’s FaceBook group, Solo Female Traveler Connector, to be both inspiring and helpful. It’s a great way to connect with fellow solo female travelers for encouragement, tips, and even a chance to meet up while abroad. Highly recommend to all my female friends!

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The Blonde Abroad is another great solo and female travel resource. Kiersten rocks some serious girl power while creating intense travel envy. Her photos are gorgeous and she’s figured out how to make a living out of this whole traveling thing! Her page is full of destination recommendations and fashion. I check her page each time I’m planning for a new trip to make sure I’m not missing out on anything great.

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Happy travel planning! x

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