Our Go-To Travel Planning Websites
“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 1.8 million flight miles combined, we have found companies/sites we trust and use 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.
This travel planning resource page contains affiliate links. If you use these travel resource links to buy something, we may earn a small commission at no additional cost to you. Thank you.
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 companies but have found our go-to site. Squaremouth.com does a fantastic job; it has a user-friendly interface, it uses top-rated and reputable insurance carriers, and most policies cover COVID-19 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.
To empower you as a consumer, we suggest you read our blog post on the importance of travel insurance and how to get the best coverage from top-rated companies for an affordable price.
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 $315. The family plan is $425 per year. Most of their policies limit the age to 74. Prices are not based on age below that.
It is valuable, and if you are going on multiple trips a year for thousands of dollars, around $300 a year is excellent for their coverage.
To learn more about how Medical Evacuation membership with Medjet Assist works, check out our blog post for a more detailed review.
Travel booking sites
Hotels, Home rentals, BNBs, 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 where 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 directly when we can, but we see more places starting to rely on travel sites alone for reservations.
Hotels, Home rentals, BNBs, 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 need, from airfare, accommodations, rental car, cruises, and things to do at destinations, can be booked on Expedia.
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 with access to all lodging forms should issues arise. Joelle Has used VRBO for many years with her family travel with no problems.
Hotels Reservations Online
This site is for people looking for great deals and who like to get 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 accommodations 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.
An excellent source for travel essentials and guides
We now have our own Amazon Storefront with all our favorite travel accessories and gear in one place. Check out our travel store at the link below.
Amazon is one of the most comprehensive online shopping 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 offer 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.
This is not your ordinary drinkware company. The HYDAWAY difference is what their products do when you’re not using them. Practical and portable, HYDAWAY doesn’t take up unnecessary space in your already-packed life or pile up in landfills. We all know that trying to pack light while being environmentally conscious can be difficult. Having the right items can make a world of difference. HYDAWAY provides that.
In our testing of their products, we were impressed. We have used their collapsible water bottle, carrying case for the water bottle, and collapsible insulated drink tumbler. They are all lightweight and durable. A conservation-focused you can be proud to buy from. You can have a great product while protecting the planet.
A top line of clothing and gear for travel and sports
A line of jackets Joelle favors for travel, and we are excited to be an affiliate partner. The durability, quality, and quality of all items at Patagonia are exceptional. They also stand by everything they make. For those into sports, their line of gear is extensive. They have it all, whether for snow, surfing, mountain biking, trail running, kitesurfing, fly fishing, or climbing.
Viator for booking experiences
As the leading marketplace for travel experiences, Viator believes that making memories is what travel is all about. And with 300,000+ experiences to explore—everything from simple tours to extreme adventures (and all the niche, interesting stuff in between)—making memories that will last a lifetime has never been easier.
With industry-leading flexibility and last-minute availability, it’s never too late to make any day extraordinary. This one site has it all and has experiences throughout the world. We use them often during our travels, especially for food tours. We especially take the time to read the reviews provided.
Welcome Pick-ups (Airport Ride Service plus sightseeing rides)
A global leader in ground transportation for travelers. They help hundreds of companies worldwide enhance their services and boost their revenue with our 5-star ride experiences and hassle-free automation.
Founded in 2015 in Athens, Greece, Welcome Pick-ups goes above and beyond the standard transfer service as the first company to deliver a holistic, in-destination travel experience. From the moment a traveler arrives at a new destination until they return home, Welcome accommodates all their travel needs (transfers, travel products, things to do, information) as the easiest, friendliest, and most personalized solution.
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 European train and bus tickets. 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 unique way to experience Europe. Try it at least once; you will likely be back again soon!
Travel documentation services
Do you feel like you are wasting time visiting an on-site photographer only to be embarrassed by the photo? Would you like control of the final product? Get the perfect VISA or passport photo online with PhotoAID.
When traveling, you often need to apply for official documents such as a passport, ID, and different kinds of licenses or cards. Those applications require a picture that must meet specific conditions to be accepted, depending on the country. Now, it is possible to take this picture at home without the help of a professional photographer. The PhotoAiD app allows you to take the perfect biometric photo that will be guaranteed by yourself without leaving your home.
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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