I’ve visited over 35 countries and 6 continents in my past 10 years of travelling. Needless to say, I’ve made my fair share of mistakes. I’ve also refined my travel style to the point where it’s second nature to look for flights, find the best deals on accom, and packing only the essentials.
Below is what you could call my ‘travel cheatsheet’
The things I wish i knew before wasting a lot of dollars and hours doing things the wrong way.
How to Find Cheap Flights (Overview)
Skyscanner – I always start with Skyscanner when looking for cheep flights. It’s extremely customizable so you can let it tell you when to travel and what countries are cheapest to visit.
– Their ‘Fly to Anywhere’ feature lets me find the absolute cheapest flight, because i ften don’t care what country i’m going to
– Their ‘Whole Month’ feature is the single best tool for seeing which days have the cheapest fare without running multiple searches and recording the results.
– Once you’ve found some good options, jump over to the airline’s website to make your final booking.
Use the Airport Lounges!
Priority Pass – Get into lounges for free with Priority Pass. You’ll be able to travel in style without the cost. This is probably my biggest travel hack (especially if like me you decided to take 4 flights instead of 1 to save a few $$). Simply transitting through a priority pass lounge lets you;
- Have a shower – get rid of that greasy airplane feeling and feel human again!
- Grab some food and drink – all you can eat and all you can drink complimentary food. I probably get my money back on this alone!
- Connect – Lounges all have free unlimited wifi so you don’t have to try in vain to connect to the dodgy free airport wifi (that never works!).
- Charging stations – No more sitting on the floor in the corner of the airport to get your phone just enough juice to survive the next leg of your journey
- Safety – I feel a wave of calm when I enter a lounge as i can leave my bags unattended (without being yelled at by airport security) and leave my electronics on charge while having a shower. It’s a small thing but makes such a difference to your state of mind while travelling which is already stressful enough!
How To Find the Best Accommodation
Airbnb – Get the feeling of home abroad by renting an Airbnb.
VRBO – I prefer Vrbo to Airbnb. They have lower service fees and often more options for accommodations that are home-y without costing thousands of dollars.
Hostelworld – Looking for the best hostel? Check out hostel world’s helpful rating systems. I’ve used them across New Zealand to find affordable accommodations.
Booking.com – Every hotel you’ve ever thought of is on booking.com. I use Booking.com when I know where I want to stay and need the cheapest price.
Expedia – Browsing hotels? Head to Expedia! I love Expedia to help me find the best hotel in locations I’m not familiar with.
Get A Good (Affordable) Rental Car
Discover Cars – Discover Cars compares the prices for a vehicle from a variety of suppliers to ensure you get the cheapest rate. It’s like Skyscanner for car rentals! I used to go to each rental company separately but this saves a bunch of time and guarantees you the cheapest rate every time.
Best Tours and Activities
G Adventures – G Adventures is my preferred tour type because of their do-it-yourself style. You get a tour planned for you, but then you can go on it alone!
Viator – Day tours can be so hard to find. Viator makes it easy, with transparent ratings and epic options around the world.
Get Your Guide – Get Your Guide is my favourite platform for booking local tours in all the major cities I visit. My favourite way to see a new city is to do a free walking tour the day I arrive. Then I’ll also look at doing a food tour, historical tour or even a nightlife tour too. These can all be found on Get Your Guide!
Skyhook Adventures – I LOVE ‘adventure hiking’.. which is basically a term i made up to describe traveling to a country to hike. Whether it’s Macchu Picchu, Kilimanjaro, or Everest base camp, Skyhook offer professional yet reasonably priced tour booking (and I means i don’t have to worry about finding a reputable operator). Give ’em a look if you’re planning a hiking holiday next!
Travel Safety Essentials
World Nomads Travel Insurance – The best travel insurance for digital nomads, expats, and adventure travellers. I spent days researching the best travel insurance for my Kilimanjaro hike, and my India motorbike trip, and World Nomads is the only company that offer addons that allow you to easily customise your policy for these activities.
Best Travel Money Cards
Wise.com – I have a stack of credit and debit cards, each with their own features and drawbacks. In fact, my regular bank cards will accrue hundreds of dollars in fees over the course of my trip. Wise is the only card that i use now as it has the lowest conversion fees, automatically converts into local currency, and waives many (tho not all) of the local ATM fees.
The Best Travel Backpack – The Osprey FairPoint 40 is honestly the best thing I’ve ever bought (lame.. but also completely true) I’ve used this bag for 7 years, and taken it to 35 different countries. I’ve lived out of it (carry on only) for 4 months in South America. And have also taken it hiking to the top of Mt Kilimanjaro with me.
- It’s 40L – the perfect size for carry-on so you can save money on inflated checked baggage airfares.
- Has pockets for a laptop, a mesh liner for delicates, and opens flat for easy packing.
- It has super comfy hip straps so can be used as a hiking pack.
- And can be transformed into a sleek satchel bag by zipping these away and clipping on the strap*
*TIP: **I always switch it into ‘satchel mode’ when checking into my flights. As a backpack it looks a bit bulky and airlines may ask the check that you’re under the cabin baggage allowance. Wearing it as a satchel I’ve never once been questioned. (Even on Ryan Air)
Portable Power Bank – Never get lost because your phone died! Get a full day of exploring in without having to go back to your hotel to recharge. And feel safe on a multiday hike when you’re got no electrons till you’re back in civilisation.
International Adapter – I’ve wasted what must amount to daaaays of time wandering around looking for a local (NZ to XYZ) travel adaptor when I arrive in a new country. Don’t be like me. Get a good quality multicountry adaptor before you leave.
Microfiber Towel – The softest and easiest to pack towel on the market. I use them for the gym, the beach, and travel. Yeah, they don’t dry the best and feel weird but you can’t go past the light weightness (is that a word) and convenience when travelling.
Portable Scale – This little guy gives me peace of mind when repacking for the next leg of the trip. Never overpay for luggage fees again!
SIM Cards and Internet while Travelling
Airalo eSIM Card – Airalo is the world’s first eSIM store that solves the pain of high roaming bills by giving you access to eSIMs (digital SIM cards) that work in over 200 countries! I’ve always been a bit old school, and just buy a local sim when I land, but this is huge waste of time, especially if you’re travelling through multiple counties!
- No more physical SIM cards – With eSIMs from Airalo, travelers can download and install a digital data pack for over 200 countries/regions and get connected anywhere in the world as soon as they land.
- Coverage of 200 countries and regions. Travelers can find suitable rates for their next trip among local, regional, and international eSIMs.
- Versatile product. Airalo offer both eSIMs (my preference) but also physical SIM cards as well if your phone doesn’t accept an eSIM.