Our Go-To Travel Sites
“He who is best prepared can best serve his moment of inspiration.”SAMUEL TAYLOR COLERIDGE
Are you planning a trip soon?
Check out our recommended top travel planning resources that we use and swear by
There are many sites out there to shop for all elements of travel. It can become overwhelming for many. Though we are very budget-conscious, we are not the kind of travelers who will fly in a middle seat, sleep in a sketchy hotel, or are willing to stand in long lines to save a few dollars. It is essential that the vendors we use have good ratings, advocate for their customers at times, and provide a quality product. We are not expecting perfection but a voice when things go sideways. That is why we are big believers in brand loyalty, but that is a discussion for another day. We hit the ground running with no time to rest when we travel. When we sleep, it needs to be comfortable and safe.
Over decades of travel and 1.7 million flight miles combined, we have found companies/sites we trust and go to regularly. That does not mean we don’t always compare and shop around. Below are the businesses we use and trust. If your experience is any different, let us know, it is vital that people learn from your experiences so everyone can avoid the same scenario.
Click on the site name to be taken directly to the site.
Our favorite travel insurance site!
If you are booking a trip, don’t forget to get travel insurance within 14 days of your first booking. We could not be more vigorous advocates of being well insured. Not for the little stuff but the big stuff like medical emergencies. We never leave home without it.
We have used many sites but have found our go-to site. Squaremouth.com does a fantastic job; it has a user-friendly interface, they use top-rated and reputable insurance carriers, and most policies cover Covid medical issues and cancellations. They also mediate on your behalf if you have problems with your policy. Their educational information pieces on travel insurance are exceptional.
Medical transport back home from anywhere in the world
They are the premier global air medical transport. One caveat to travel insurance is that medical evacuation usually gets you to the closest facility to care for you. Medjet gets you back to the U.S. to the hospital of your choice once you are stable enough to fly. They cover Covid-related transports as well.
They carry their own policies. The policy is only for transport and no other aspects of travel insurance. Their motto is you never think it will happen to you, but it is the best protection you can have when it does. They have individual trip policies starting at $99 and annual policies for $295. They have family plans as well. Most of their policies limit the age to 74 and younger. Prices are not based on age below that.
It is a valuable policy to have, and if you are going on multiple trips a year for many thousands of dollars, $295 a year is excellent for the coverage you are getting.
Travel booking sites
Hotels, Home rentals, BNB’s, Flights and other Transportation & Tours
Expedia is a U.S based site whose mission is to power global travel for everyone. Whether planning a family vacation, business, or organizing the trip of a lifetime, they are the go-to resource. Wanderers Compass focuses on independent travel, and using sites like Expedia makes that possible. Every aspect of travel you would need from airfare, accommodations, rental car, cruises, and things to do at destinations can be booked on Expedia.
For many of our trips, we used Chase reward points for hotels. It has saved us well over $10,000 in hotel costs over the last few years. You must use Chase’s Reward portal to book travel to book hotels. Expedia powers that site. There has never been an issue with a single reservation we have made or used. It is impressive since Chase is the middle man for the most part. We still compare prices with regular Expedia vs. the Chase portal, and they are usually identical.
Hotels, Home rentals, BNB’s, Flights and other Transportation & Tours
Booking.com connects millions of travelers to memorable experiences, various transportation options, and incredible places to stay – from homes to hotels and much more. As one of the world’s largest travel marketplaces for established brands and entrepreneurs of all sizes.
It is a site we use on every trip. When researching an area, especially off the beaten path, there are great little places we read about you can stay. We always start with Expedia to check prices, but sometimes it says it is sold out. We then try Booking.com we find it lists plenty of rooms. This had been the case, especially in Switzerland and Germany. We do book direct when we can, but we see more places starting to rely on the travel sites alone for reservations.
Traveling with a family or having an extended stay at your destination, VRBO may be for you.
With over 2 million bookable vacation rentals, Vrbo connects homeowners with families and vacationers looking for something more than a hotel for their trip. The Vrbo community offers families various rental property types such as condos, cabins, lake rentals, beach houses, and more. Discover properties in destinations that everyone dreams of visiting.
With recent issues with AirBnB and their lack of customer support, many are turning to VRBO. Many of the same properties exist there. It is under the Expedia group ownership now, which many were worried about but hasn’t panned out to be a concern. It is a massive network that also has access to all forms of lodging should issues arise. Joelle Has used VRBO for many years with her family travel will no problems to date.
Hotels Reservations Online
This site is for people looking for great deals and who like to get some freebies along the way. They have free cancellation on most hotels, you get a free reward night for every ten nights you stay, and they offer a low price guarantee.
Hotels.com is a leading provider of hotel accommodation worldwide, offering booking services through its network of localized websites. Hotels.com gives travelers one of the broadest accommodation selections on the net, including independent and major chain hotels. The company offers a one-stop shopping source for hotel pricing, amenities, and availability. Hotels.com is part of the Expedia Group of travel companies.
Tripadvisor, the world’s largest travel guidance platform, helps hundreds of millions of people each month become better travelers, from planning to booking to taking a trip. Travelers around the world use the Tripadvisor site and app to discover where to stay, what to do, and where to eat based on guidance from those who have been there before.
With more than 1 billion reviews and opinions from nearly 8 million businesses, travelers turn to Tripadvisor to find deals on accommodations, book experiences, reserve tables at delicious restaurants and discover great places to see nearby. We use them for guidance and research on every trip, it is a valuable app for the independent traveler.
Discover Europe by Train
Rail Europe sells train and bus tickets for travel across Europe. They cover 24 countries, 105 rail operations, and 20,000 stations. They are the official rail and bus operations agents in the UK, France, Spain, Italy, Germany, Belgium, Austria, Switzerland, Luxembourg, and the Netherlands. They continue to add coverage all the time.
It is a fast, easy and economical way to purchase train and bus tickets for Europe. Eurail passes are also available to buy through their site.
Traveling by train in Europe is one of the highlights of many of our trips. It is so fantastic and is such a special way to experience Europe. Try it at least once; you will likely be back again soon!
Travel documentation services
Travel documentation made more accessible
iVisa.com is dedicated to providing customers with a simple, fast, and reliable way to get travel documentation for their journey. Their online application process makes getting visas, health declarations, or passport photos a breeze, and all from the comfort of your home. As a leading independent company in the travel documentation industry, they take pride in making global travel more accessible for everyone. In the end, it is a simple and affordable shortcut travel planning resource to get the necessary entry documents complete for your international travel.
An excellent source for travel essentials and guides
Amazon is one of the most extensive shopping online sources in the world. On behalf of their customers, teams worldwide provide lower prices, better selection, and rapid delivery. They offer a vast inventory, and their 1.7 million small and medium businesses worldwide selling on Amazon.com provide more options for customers.
We buy all our travel books, accessories, and luggage from Amazon. We had ordered up to two days before travel and received what we needed on time. It is an invaluable travel planning resource for us.
Thoughtfully Designed | Meticulously Constructed | Quality Guaranteed.
We have used this luggage for years, left briefly to try others, and landed coming back to Travelpro. Travelpro luggage is carried by crews from over 90 airlines worldwide.
Travelpro takes the time to learn what travel pros want and need, then build it. “The practical features and professional-grade durability standards used in our FlightCrew™ Professional Collection are adapted for civilian use, resulting in ultra-durable, lightweight luggage.” The key factor for us is it much be lightweight upfront but also very resistant to rough handling. This luggage is the best and we could not recommend it enough.
Check out our Best Travel Gear and Accessories 2022 post to see which specific Travelpro ® pieces we are using now.
A top line of clothing and gear for travel and sports
A favorite line of jackets Joelle favors for travel we are excited to be an affiliate partner. The durability, quality, and workmanship of all items at Patagonia are exceptional. They also stand by everything they make. For those into sports, their line of gear is extensive. Whether it is for snow, surfing, mountain biking, trail running, kitesurfing, flyfishing, or climbing they have it all.
You’ll find the highest-performance outdoor gear as well as clothing and expert-level gear knowledge. This is camping, trail running, mountain biking, alpine and Nordic skiing, mountaineering, backpacking, and more—all on one website. Though we don’t do much backpacking many of our readers do. This is a great resource. Check out their gear!
Venue tickets sales
TicketOne is Italy’s ticketing, marketing, information, and e-commerce website leader for music, entertainment, sport, monuments, museums, and cultural events. Many tourist sites, such as Pompeii, use it for their official sales. Museums, such as Uffizi and Accademia Gallery in Florence, use them for entry tickets.
Traveling involves many elements of preparation. Check out our blog post Ryan’s Top Travel Tips to stay on top of your game.
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