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After seven years of travel, I’ve become quite meticulous and detailed in all my travel planning. Whilst this is a sensible way of ensuring my trip goes exactly how I want it to, I can tell you that in all my travel experiences, my trips never go EXACTLY how I planned them.
But don’t worry – I’ve accepted that travel always brings the unexpected, and spontaneous events do happen.
More often than not, these unexpected events are positive things that changed my trip for the better – for example, discovering an off-beat path that leads to untouched, hidden beauty. Or befriending locals who not only take you to the best restaurants that aren’t frequented by tourists, they also help you secure tickets for an island-hopping boat tour that cost $20 instead $80.
One of the most important things to understand about travel: expect the unexpected.
My aim is to help you plan for the most epic trips of your life. I do this by ensuring you have everything you need for your travels, making the entire planning trip planning process as easy as possible.
As always when planning a new trip, I start with flights. You’ll be surprised to find ridiculously cheap fares from the search tools listed below. I am always discovering and booking cheap flights around Europe at less than £30 return, and even long-haul return flights to Southeast Asia at £400 or less.
Skyscanner – an easy to use site, the Explore tool is great if you’re flexible. I usually check on Skyscanner first before going over to Momondo to find cheaper fares.
Kiwi.com – an excellent website with a great map interface tool, ideal if you’re flexible on dates and for comparing different destinations.
Momondo – another excellent flight search tool, Momondo offers some of the cheapest deals of them all. I check this site to see if any the deals on Skyscanner or Kiwi can be beaten.
The first thing I do after booking my flights, is buy travel insurance.
After a few travel accidents that happened to me in the past six years (including getting electrocuted in a Mexican hostel, having my arm literally blow up like Popeye’s due to a mosquito infection, and more), I now NEVER leave home without it.
So to answer your question: Yes – you really do need travel insurance.
Well, you could suffer appendicitis and require emergency surgery. You could easily have your bag or camera stolen (this happened to me). A family relative could fall seriously ill or pass away, and you wouldn’t be able to afford the urgent flight back home.
For my travel cover I always use World Nomads. They are one of, if not, the BEST insurance providers out there.
You can buy and claim online, even after you’ve left home. Travel insurance from WorldNomads.com is available to people from over 130 countries. It’s designed for adventurous travellers with cover for overseas medical, evacuation, baggage and a range of adventure sports and activities.
Now that I have my flights and insurance covered, its time to start looking at accommodation options.
I usually go to Booking first, for hotels and the for the cheapest deals. You can filter the results for the best ratings, distance from the main spots (ie: the beach, the city centre), and price range, and there’s plenty of really good options to choose from.
However, if I’m staying someplace a little longer, Airbnb is my preferred choice. Listings range from studios to apartments, guesthouses to homes, castles to villas. It gives you the freedom to live like a local, for a more authentic travel experience.
Booking.com – perfect for budget accommodation and free cancellation listings
Airbnb – for authentic travel experiences
HostelWorld – an excellent site for backpackers and travellers on a shoestring budget
Couchsurfing – FREE places to stay – usually on a sofa. For the die-hard budget traveller.
Tip: At the earliest chance, check out the free cancellation listings on Booking – and book any that you really like, immediately. This way, you reserve your room before it disappears, and you can cancel free of charge at the last minute.
I usually open both sites and see whats on offer. I then compare prices and book the best deal. What I like about both of these is that they give you the flexibility to cancel up to 24 hours before and receive a full refund, not bad.
Travelling in Asia? Have a look on Voyagin – Asia’s largest travel activities booking platform.
The gear you take with you on your trip – be it a short weekend city break or a backpacking two-month adventure around Southeast Asia, is one of the most important aspects of your travel planning.
In all my years of travelling around the world, I’ve learned two important things: #1: Downsize and be minimal – don’t pack unnecessary stuff. And #2: invest in top quality gear – this will not only prevent your gear from breaking mid-trip, it will save you a lot of money in the long term!
Below I’ve compiled several sections of travel gear to suit the type of trip you are embarking on. For ALL trips, you’re gonna need to have your Carry on essentials covered. For this, I have covered everything you’ll ever need, in one post here:
And if you’re looking to buy unique travel-themed gifts for friends, family and special ones – whether it’s for Christmas, birthdays, Valentines or any occasion, head over to the following post:
Zero Grid Security Money Belt – for travellers who want to avoid drawing attention abroad, the security conscious, or those who just fancy travelling super light. Amazon
Osprey Farpoint 40L – a favourite among backpackers worldwide and is considered one of the best rucksacks on the market. Coming in at £80 for the 40L, for a reputable brand this is excellent value for money, as it will last many years. And the 40L fits perfectly into the cabin compartment. Amazon (US) | Amazon (UK)
There are a number of reasons why this happens – technical glitches, currency conversion faults, and human error. If you’re well-informed and in-the-know on the latest airline error fares, you’ll be saving a lot of dosh on your tickets.
This is my favourite tool for getting alerts on knockdown fare prices. One of the easiest and most convenient ways of getting the latest flight price alerts from your nearest airports each week, is Jack’s Flight Club. You can receive email alerts for notifications, and you’ll get discounted fares sent each week.
Below is a list of some of the best finance tools for travellers that I use and can recommend:
Check out this article in Finder.com (dated 12 September 2019) that compares the three biggest travel banking apps, to help you decide which one to choose.
Lonely Planet’s Best Ever Photography Tips – For those looking to polish up on their instagram-worthy shots, this pocket-sized book features 45 practical tips and ten golden rules from award-winning travel photographer Richard I’Anson, it’s packed with insight into the creative and technical skills required to produce brilliant images. Amazon (US) | Amazon (UK)
Lonely Planet’s Ultimate Travel List – “Compilation of the 500 most unmissable sights & attractions in the world, ranked by Lonely Planet’s global community of travel experts. Big name mega-sights such as the Eiffel Tower and the Taj Mahal battle it out with lesser-known hidden gems for a prized place in the top 10, making this the only bucket list you’ll ever need.” Amazon (US) | Amazon (UK)
Below is a collection of the best travel mobile apps and websites, that my partner and I (and many of our travel buddies) use. I recommend you include these apps on your device to be well-prepared for your travels. The good thing about all of these apps is, apart from being reliable, great and easy to use, they are FREE to download and use.
Note: All the apps below are compatible with Apple iOS devices. Most of them are also available on Google Play.
These are the apps that EVERY traveller needs – whether its for a weekend city break or a gap year trip. You’ll probably already have some of these on your device, if not, get these downloaded before your next trip.
Google Maps – a no brainer this one. Can even be used offline (as long as you set up the directions on a wifi connection first)
Culture Trip – a brilliant app and website packed with comprehensive guides on cities, regions & countries, with articles on culture, history, food, adventure etc.
XE Currency – an essential app for checking the most up-to-date conversion rates on global currencies.
Google Translate – one of the best translator apps out there. I sometimes use the ‘iTranslate’ app, but it’s not nearly as accurate as Google Translate. Plus, you can use your mobile camera to scan text and the app will translate it in real time.
Below are a few apps I use for planning my trips – each of these are unique and have their own cool features.
TripIt: Travel Planner – perfect for curating itineraries and keeping all your documents, emails, receipts etc in one organised place.
Lucky Trip – this is one of these great apps that curates budget trips and packages at great prices. As well as the app, you can opt-in for email alerts.
Holiday Pirates – another great app that’s constantly scouring the web for great deals on holidays, flights and hotels.
These apps are really useful for navigating around foreign cities and finding the best routes and their prices.
Citymapper – the ‘ultimate transport app’, and its easy to see why. With real-time departures and transit maps, it integrates the main rideshare apps, its got pretty much everything you need for city travel.
Rome2Rio – a great app that lets you find the best routes and transport options worldwide – with details on journey time, stops and changes, and prices, whether its buses, trains, coaches, ferries or flights.
Omio – one of the best and biggest companies for booking your bus, train, and flight tickets around Europe.
Using ride-hail apps to get around is cheaper than taxis in many countries. Depending on the country I visit, I open one of the apps below and compare the cost of a fare with a regular taxi or even public transport. If it’s cheaper – I just book my ride on the app.
Bolt – formerly known as Taxify, Bolt is an Estonian-based app thats used in the Baltics and has spread to London and other cities. Not only is it cheaper than Uber, Bolt pays its drivers a better wage too. If you’re someplace where Bolt is an option alongside Uber, I recommend using the smaller, fairer company, than the one with a global stranglehold and controversial issues.
Uber – the most well-known ride-hailing app, but mired in controversy over poor driver pay and the way it handles customer complaints.
Ola – If you’re travelling around India, Ola is the ride-hail app of choice – as a tourist this is highly recommended as it saves you getting ripped-off by taxis and auto rickshaws. Also available in Australia, New Zealand and the UK.
Grab – Southeast Asia’s #1 ride-hailing app, that also offers food delivery and cashless payments. Grab is cheaper than taxis in Asia, and especially useful for airport transfers too.
Top Tip: As soon as you land in a new country and approach the arrivals, check the cost of a ride from the airport to city (or your hotel) on one of the above apps. Don’t be fooled by the taxi drivers at the airport – they will charge extortionate fees and tell you that rideshare apps include hidden toll fees – this is NOT true!
Sometimes you’ll find yourself in an eco-friendly city where everyone gets around on a bicycle or electric scooter. The following apps are great for finding and renting a bike or scooter on the street.
Lime – the largest electric scooter and bike share service that covers the major cities of North America and Europe, and a few other cities in South America, Asia and Oceania.
Donkey Republic – Bicycle rental company with bikes available in 50+ cities worldwide. Relatively cheaper than the scooter rental apps.
Bird – the second-biggest e-scooter company, Bird serves most of the major North American cities and a handful of European cities.
VOI – the Stockholm-based VOI is one of the most popular scooter rental services in the major European cities.
AirHelp – the world leader in flight delay compensation, AirHelp helps customers understand their rights and receive up to €600 in compensation, on a delayed or cancelled flight, just by simply providing their flight details.
Compensair works under EU and Turkish legislation, providing support in helping customers receive up to €600 in compensation. A quick 2-minute application process, and the company handles all the paperwork.
Are you thinking about setting up your own travel blog site? Here’s some some of the best tips and tools that I use for my travel blog. Just follow the step-by-step below and you can easily and quickly get your new blog up and running in no time using these tools:
The first step is to check your domain name is available. Use the widget on the right to check your web domain/URL name is available – and if it is, be sure to purchase it.
Forget all those WP Themes – I’ve tried and tested a few myself. If you want flexibility and unlimited options on the layout and design of your page, look no further than Elementor – arguably the best theme builder out there. My travel site uses Elementor, and I have never looked back since I first discovered it.