Travel planning can cause a bit of a headache, but we are here to make you excited about it. Because even though the sheer abundance of options out there can be overwhelming, it really only comes down to one thing: your travel identity. Once you figured out what you really want out of your travels, everything will fall into place. Let us bring some structure into the long list of travel options and help you determine your own unique travel identity.
When it comes to travel gear, quality will always be more important than quantity. We want to inform you on the best and wisest choices to make, and here is our number one tip: keep it simple. We all have the tendency to “prepare for every situation”, but all you are really accomplishing, is decreasing your mobility and increasing your reliance on gadgets and material things while you should really just enjoy your holiday.
Second tip? Don’t worry so much about forgetting something. Pack your essentials, of course, including medication you may need, but know that almost everything else can most likely be purchased wherever you are going.
Here is a quick travel gear checklist specific to different types of travelers!
Which luggage you choose completely defines what kind of traveler you are. It is one of the most important travel choices you will make and one we would love to help you with. The first thing you need to ask yourself, is what you want and need out of your trip. Will you just be taking basic necessities along? Do you need to protect some valuables from possible damage? Check out some of our basic tips below.
For backpackers and minimalist travelers
The clue is in the word, the backpack is the ultimate backpacker travel item and one you should invest in greatly. Even if you are not a backpacker, you may enjoy some of the benefits such as being completely hands-free, which means you will be able to navigate your way more easily through airports, cities, crowds, … It is also safer in the sense that muggers won’t be able to grab your backpack as easily like they could a wheeled suitcase. Something else that may or may not be a plus for you, is that a backpack will limit you in what you can bring, making it perfect for minimalist travelers who are looking to connect to a simpler form of life.
Some things to keep in mind if you want to buy the perfect backpack:
- Breathability and durability of the material are essential: Your backpack will take quite a beating and will function as many things including a comfortable seat while waiting for the bus. You want the material to be able to sustain all of that. A great choice is the Deuter Aircontact.
- Test the fit and frame: Never purchase a backpack without carrying it around the store with a bit of weight. You want the bag to feel like part of your own body.
- Consider usability: Think about how you want to use the bag. How many side pockets you will need, how many points of access you will need, how much space you will need, and so on.
If you want a carry-on that can also free up your hands if you prefer it, consider a foldable, waterproof day pack. The Outlander Ultra Lightweight Water Resistant Daypack is a quality option.
City trips and business travel with a dash of class
For some people, a backpack is not ideal if they are bringing along valuables that need protecting beyond the ones they will take as carry-ons. Or perhaps it simply doesn’t suit the look they are going for or the way they need to make use of their luggage. They would rather go for wheeled suitcases with a hard frame, a perfect checked bag that can take a punch. Or if the hard frame isn’t necessary, duffelbags with or without wheels, that can double as a shoulder bag. This depends entirely on your personal preference and stylistic choice.
City trips are all about easy access to a larger variety of clothes suited for different occasions. So make sure you keep an eye on compartments (how many divisions you’d like to make among your belongings), size and usability. If you are a business traveler, it is quite similar to city trips in that easy access is a priority, but is different in that it has a much more specific purpose in keeping your work items safe. So keep an extra eye on durability!
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Some notes on wheeled suitcases:
- They take the weight off your back, which is a definite plus for some people.
- They are less likely to get damaged, especially those with a hard shell.
- Consider where you are going before settling on a wheeled suitcase. If you are visiting a charming medieval town in Europe, you may not want to drag the suitcase all over the cobblestone sidewalks. It would be uncomfortable but could also damage the wheels.
- The hard shells are better to prevent damage, but the soft shells are more flexible. This is a plus if you plan on bringing back some souvenirs.
More travel gadgets seem to be coming on the market every minute. While some of them are interesting, others are mere vanity purchases and could distract you from what is actually necessary. While what is “necessary” does depend and what kind of travelers you are, here is a list of the basic electronics we recommend you should add to your essentials.
For the casual traveler
- Universal adapter
- A set of comfortable earphones. If you need noise canceling headset on the plane, make sure you get one that allow emergency reports to come through.
- (depending on your travel style): tablet and Kindle. Tablets can be a more economical substitute for a laptop. If you will need to plan a lot as you go and enjoy watching series and movies, get a tablet. You can get a Kindle too but note that you can also get an e-reader app on your tablet if you don’t want to spend money on two devices.
For the adventure or off-the-beaten-path traveler
- Water – and shock proof phone case.
- A cheaper set of earphones you can afford to lose.
- Portable charger (solar panel) – You can take this along for any type of trip, especially when you are on the road for a long time, but for outdoor travelers, a solar panel portable charger can be used anywhere, anytime. This leaves you free to enjoy the outdoors for as long as you want without losing the use of your phone, camera, or other electronics. Check out the Anker 21W Dual USB Solar Charger for inspiration.
For the business traveler
- A mobile hotspot to stay connected wherever you go.
- Multi-charging case like the Mophie Powerstation AC which is suitable to charge phones, tablets and laptops. It has a 22,000mAh battery and doesn’t exactly come cheap, but it can be a great tool if you have several devices you need to keep going. If you don’t need a laptop, the Mophie Charge Force Station with 10,000mAh battery will be perfect.
- Noise canceling earbuds might be useful if you have to remain available for calls at any time, even if you are in chaotic surroundings.
You will no doubt already have plenty of outfits in mind, but as far as clothing goes, here is our top tip for you: embrace modesty and simplicity. You will regret bringing too many things and when you are traveling, you don’t want to attract too much attention to yourself. There is nothing wrong with bringing some nicer clothes in case you want to go out, but here too it is best to keep the levels of simplicity a bit higher than you would at home. Especially if you are in a country where you are very easily identified as a tourist.
If you are an adventure tourist or even if you will just be going for some hikes, you will want to bring some more specific gear along. This will of course completely depend on what you want to do, but here are some general tips we have for you:
- Focus on neutral colors. If you are out trying to spot wildlife and blend in, a loud orange shirt will not help you achoeve that goal.
- Check for performance fabrics that are quick-drying, water-proof and breathable.
- Think layers if you are planning on covering various types of terrains.
- Always keep usability in mind when you are shopping for clothes. For example, how many pockets will you need?
- Some clothing have a much higher UPF (Ultraviolet Protection Factor). This can be very useful in protecting you if you will be spending long hours in the sun.
- Choose wrinkle-free and light clothes that are very easy to clean by hand. In this case, also use biodegradable soaps.
- Test your trousers before buying by moving around a lot and squatting.
How well you can manage your budget can make or break your trip. And while many parts of travel can certainly be expensive, you will be amazed and how many money saving chances you allow to pass you by. The changes don’t always need to be very big and sometimes it can just be about small adjustments here and there. Next to cutting the costs, you will also need to know how to have your financial documents in order so you may be able to pass through certain procedures more swiftly. We have plenty of travel finance hacks for you, but allow us to start with some basic tips here.
- Check with your bank and other financial institutions for a travel credit card or debit card (with overseas partner banks) that may benefit you more during your travels. Because some credit cards will lose you quite a bit of money per transaction due to commissions. This is especially handy if you are planning a longer trip abroad.
- Make at least two copies of all the important documents you are taking with you.
- Hide small amounts of cash in different places where possible muggers won’t think to find it (socks, bra, …). Also, consider carrying around a “fake wallet” in an obvious place like your trouser pocket, while the real one is safely tucked away elsewhere. A money belt is very helpful, but only keep your valuables while you are traveling. Not when you need access to its content every hour.
- Research your destination well beforehand and know where you can cut corners.
- Avoid airport exchange offices. If you need to exchange money locally, do so at a bank. They will have better rates.
- Get travel insurance!
- Inform your bank of your travel plans before heading abroad.
We have so many travel options available to us and most people tend to use the same ones throughout their lives, mainly due to a sense of familiarity which makes us feel safer. But changing the way you travel can have a lot of benefits. You will discover something new, add some extra excitement to your trip, push your boundaries, increase your confidence levels and in some cases even lessen your carbon footprint.
In our reviews and articles, we compare various big airlines and discuss which ones would be most suited for certain destinations. Choosing the right airline is very important for your comfort as well as your traveling needs. We will give you plenty of detailed pointers in our articles, but let us here give you some tips on getting the best deal on a flight.
- Travel during shoulder seasons when flights as well as hotels will be a lot cheaper.
- Either book well into advance, or go for a last-minute deal. The prime booking window is between 5 months and 2 weeks prior to your travels.
- If you are likely to revisit the same sites before making a decision, consider Googling in incognito mode. This way, the sites won’t be able to use tracking cookies that might just boot up the price on a later visit taking you for a motivated buyer.
- Many airlines offer weekly sales on Tuesday, so consider booking your ticket on this say specifically. Farecompare.com states that 3pm eastern time is the opportune booking window.
- If you are traveling internationally, the best days to book your flight are when departing and returning on weekdays. If you are traveling within the US itself, Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Saturdays tend to be cheaper by comparison.
Best places to book flights online, which airline should I choose?
It is likely that you will be heading straight to the budget airlines expecting to find the best deals there. Or maybe you will go for the most popular airlines for your route or always use the same ones out of habits. But this would be a mistake. You can save a lot of money and find what you are looking for, if you learn to use Google a little differently. While for a lot of the basic fare will be lower on budget airlines, for example, there are often hidden taxes added to the total at the end of the booking process.
Visiting comparative websites collecting all the info out there rather than those of one specific airline can help you the best possible deal. Cheaptickets.com and Traveloka are great examples. If you are planning on booking flights along the way, make sure to install the app to make the site more user-friendly.
Check here some reviews and comparisosn between the best airlanes:
- KLM vs Air France
- KLM vs Delta
- Virgin America vs JetBlue
- JetBlue vs Delta
- The Best Airlines for Pets
- The Best Airlines to Fly to Italy
- The Delta Comfort Plus Review
- JetBlue vs. Southwest Airlines
- British Airways vs American Airlines
- Spirit vs Delta
- Jetblue vs American Airlines
Travel by boat is no longer as popular as it once was since most people travel by plane. Depending on your destination, you might need to make use of taxi boats and ferries. In this case, always check online for hours and country-specific information, but make sure to double-check it locally upon arrival in case things have changed since then. Our aim is to give you the most accurate and current information out there.
Next to the ferries and other small water hopping trips, the interest in cruises is still on the rise. While a cruise can be a great experience for many people, we would like to give you some extra advise. While some new locations are opening up as a cruise destination due to the high demand, some other countries and cities are minimizing their collaboration with cruise lines or even cutting it off completely. This is mainly due to strain mass-tourism can put on a country. So, while we will always advise you to follow your own travel impulses, we would also like to inspire you to be ethical and respectful towards the countries and its people.
But of course, boat trips can also refer to the ones you make when going on aquatic adventures. The famous scuba diving destination of Isla del Coco, for example, is located 550 kilometers from the Costa Rica coastline. For this kind of trip, you will need to keep in mind that you need to have:
- A very simple wardrobe
- Only necessities packed
- Water-resistant clothes with strong UPF factor
- Bathing suit
- Prepare for motion sickness!
Where can I book ferries online?
Much like with airplines, do not go got specific ferry brands but rather compare the prices of several of them. The best site to book ferries worldwide, is directferries.com.
When is the best time to book a cruise online?
The cheapest time to go on a cruise, is late summer – autumn. This is considered off-season and the weather might be a little less predictable (make sure to get cruise insurance too!). When to book the cruise, will depend on your preferences. You can book as early as 18 months in advance and we advise you do so if you value getting your hands on a specific kind of cabin. If you are looking for a good deal, however, you will want to wait for last-minutes. You will have a lot less choice, but this is exactly what will save you money.
Trains are one of the most amazing ways to travel with many advantages compared to flying or driving. One of them being that it is the most environmentally friendly way to travel long distance, with the greenhouse emissions being less than cars by 80% per kilometer. Of course, you can’t go everywhere with the train but if you have to travel across continent and have the option to go by train, we would like to encourage you to choose this over flying at least a couple of times. Some further advantages of traveling by train are:
- It gives you more freedom to move around and it makes you feel less contained.
- The tickets are generally quite a bit cheaper.
- There is much less hassle traveling by train than there is by plane and procedures will all run more smoothly.
- You will be rewarded with splendid country-side views and see parts of the country you will miss by plane.
- Seats are a lot more spacious and you will experience greater levels of comfort.
- You will have no luggage restrictions like you would on a flight. As long as you can handle your luggage and not obstruct any halls or bother other passengers, you can bring it.
- Unlike traveling with a car, you will face no traffic and are just going along for a smooth ride, stress-free.
If you are flying on Europe and see a much better deal when arriving at a different city than you had planned, consider selecting the deal anyway and travel by train for the remained of your trip. You can also do this if you want to avoid certain airports where strikes are regular, such as Zaventem or Paris.
Speaking of Europe, did you know that there are several train connections that are actually a lot faster than flights? Some will even cut your travel time in half and as a bonus, the tickets will be a lot cheaper. Here there will specific companies you can travel with and you don’t need to figure out which one will be better. Check out this list:
- Florence – Naples: book at Italiarail.
- London – Manchester: book at Virgin Trains.
- Madrid – Valencia: book at AVE.
- Bologna – Rome: book at Italotreno or trenitalia.
- Munich – Vienna: book with Deutsche Bahn.
- Barcelona – Madrid: book with Renfe.
- Milan – Zurich: book with trenitalia.
- Amsterdam – Paris: Book with Thalys.
When should I buy my train ticket?
For train tickets for long distance rides, booking early is what you want. So if you are sure you will be traveling at a certain day, go ahead and book. Train fares tend to go up when seats run low.
Cross-country or cross-continent buses are a great way to save a few bucks, so we highly recommend this way of travel to budget travelers who can be generous with one thing of not their money: time. It is no secret that buses will take you a lot longer than either planes or trains, but you might have a few more stories to tell.
Megabus is one of the more well-known and cheapest companies where you can get tickets to the biggest cities in Europe. You can also get Megabus in the US, UK and Canada.
Other than the long distance buses, we also recommend you always look into the public transportation connections at your destination. And of course, we also offer you information on that in our destination guides as well as our transport section. Not only will traveling with public transportation save you a lot of money, but you will also be able to experience a city or country in a more intimate way and travel with the locals. Additionally, it will teach you a lot about a country’s infrastructure, and by extension the country itself.
When should I buy my bus ticket?
For your long distance bus ticket, the same rule applies as the train tickets. Book as early as you can to get a good deal, but also to make sure you get your seat. Long distance buses still get full pretty quickly.
How about stepping away from the more traditional ways to travel completely? More and more people are trying to find their own way to move around in full freedom, and bicycles are one of them. It is environmentally friendly, challenging physically as well as mentally, you will be encouraged to speak with locals, and you will be able to reach locations those traveling by car or bus can’t. If you are a keen cyclist or are looking forward to heading out into the world on your bike for the first time, start planning your trip with this list of the most bicycle friendly countries in the world as well as the most bicycle friendly city for each:
- The Netherlands, Utrecht.
- Germany, Münster.
- Belgium, Antwerp.
- Denmark, Copenhagen.
- Sweden, Malmö.
- Switzerland, Bern.
- New Zealand, Auckland.
21 tips that will make getting there a breeze!
Do you perhaps have more questions we didn’t answer yet? Then we have some extra tips here to make your travels safe and comfortable.
- Establish a budget before planning anything else. You can save a whole lot of money on transportation and use the money elsewhere, especially if you take the tips we provided above to heart. That being said, make sure you don’t always choose the cheaper option without considering anything else. The price-quality balance is a lot more important. So, focus on getting value for your money. In order to get this, it is essential you first determine what is important for you.
- Research airports and stations beforehand to avoid possible surprises. Also check which airport would fit your purpose best. Some airports will be a little more complicated than others and if you have a short transfer, this could cause a real headache. Charles de Gaulle in Paris, for example, is considered to be one of the most poorly designed airports when it comes to navigation. So, this might be an airport you want to avoid when you need to change your flights quickly.
- Book transportation ahead as much as possible, especially if you plan long distance buses or trains. Places can run out fast! For elaborate information on travel and transportation per country, visit seat61.
- Check in your flight online to make the whole process go faster.
- If you are going on a short trip only, restrict yourself to carry-ons. This way you can avoid the baggage claim and save a lot of time.
- Always check on the current safety regulations of the airport you are visiting and the airlines you are using. Don’t exceed the size or weight advised for carry-ons, for example. Some airlines check this and it can slow you down significantly if you have to move luggage to your check-in bag.
- Dress comfortably and in layers. Whether you are traveling by plane, bus or train, the temperatures can fluctuate significantly.
- Make your luggage “smart” and trackable. There are several Mobile / Bluetooth trackers on the market, LugLoc is a great example. This will make it a lot easier to locate your luggage in case of loss or theft, because frankly, most airlines will not go above and beyond to get your stuff back.
- Take special precautions for long bus or train rides. Keep your luggage close to you rather than to put it in the overhead department if you feel the infrastructure is less safe. If you are traveling to a developing country, always make sure the roads you will be traveling on are safe enough.
- Inform yourself about road conditions and the credibility of company you are traveling with. Also, do not allow people to “help you” put your bag in the back or above your seat. Kindly decline, since this is a common hoax.
- Prepare a small travel emergency bag with copies of your important documents, a list of emergency numbers, travel insurance documents, and basic first-aid items. Keep this bag close with easy access.
- Plan ahead for snacks! Always pack the kind of snack that won’t expire and can handle any kind of climate, like granola bars and nuts. They are also packed with energy and can keep you going.
- If you have a long layover, research the airport’s rules on sleeping there. Most airports will have certain places where you can sleep officially and websites like sleepingairports.net will also inform you about some unofficial places you could use.
- Take night buses and trains if you can afford to miss out on the sights. You will save a ton of time.
- Bring along your medical information in case of accidents along the way so you can be helped more efficiently. Keep it in a location they are sure to check like your wallet.
- Research nearby restaurants, shops and sights if you will have to kill a couple of hours in a town or city waiting for a connection.
- Know how to use travel information wisely. If you encounter information like “the best restaurant” and “most amazing coffee shop”, check a little further down the road from this highly reviewed location. The other places in the area will often have similar quality, but be cheaper and have fewer costumers because most people will be drawn to the popular place.
- Looking to save some room for essentials like sunscreen and other products and make them more easily accessible? Then we recommend GoToob bottles. These tiny, flexible bottles can fit right into your pocket and are even small enough to pass airport security without any hassle, especially if you keep them in separate bags.
- Will you be taking long plane or bus rides with children? Then prepare some distractions for them. They will no doubt have some electronics available just like you, but how about using this occasion for some family time? Play games together that have either a small travel version available or won’t need any equipment at all. Just think about card games, 20 questions, mad libs, mini-board games, and so on.
- Make sure you get travel insurance specific to the locations you will be traveling to. To make ‘getting there’ more comfortable, book your insurance with an expert online agency rather than one back home. World Nomads is the top rated website to buy your insurance.
- Don’t plan every little detail of your trip. While we advise that you should book certain important transfers and transportation in advance, you should make sure you don’t fall into the trap of planning everything to the degree that you take away the spontaneity and fun of travel!
Where you stay will determine the nature of your trip and you should give extra consideration to this choice. You need to ask yourself exactly what you want out of the experience and which amenities you value. What we would love to do, is encourage you to try something different. Perhaps you will discover a new passion and reinvent your own way of traveling. Allow us to give you an introduction and some expert tips on most popular accommodation types.
Hotels are quite a conventional choice to make but even with an increase in accommodation alternatives, hotels have their own voice which has become more varied in recent years. Picking the best hotel will depend on your personal preferences, of course, so ask yourself what is important. Location? Price? Breakfast included? Airport shuttles? If you have already have an answer to all these questions, here are a couple for you that will ensure you get the best hotel deal for your next trip:
- Stay more than one night: this way you will be able to negotiate a discount for a long term stay. In a lot of cases, you can stay 4 nights and pay for 3.
- You will save a lot of money if you select a hotel a while removed from the city center, perhaps even in a neighboring town. Make sure you check the public transportation connections as well.
- Consider a mid-week or a Sunday stay. Most people will book Fridays and Saturdays, making the prices skyrocket.
- Travel during shoulder seasons of Autumn and Spring. Very beautiful in their own way with prices sometimes dropping as far as 50% or more, depending on the region.
- If you travel in a group, select an apartment and share the costs.
Hostels are not only a great way to save money, it is also an ideal way to find your own community of travelers. This is the top accommodation option we recommend for solo travelers, next to the below mentioned couchsurfing. Here are some tips on finding the perfect hostel:
- Cheaper isn’t always better when it comes to hostels. Saving money is important, of course, but make sure you prioritize the right things like safety and hygiene. Check the reviews for bed safety, especially if you will be staying in a bunk-bed, and inquire after the hygiene of the shared bathrooms.
- Choose a hostel with lockers so you can keep valuables safe while you go out exploring.
- Find a hostel with a kitchen for you to use or breakfast included.
- If you are looking to socialize, you will want to keep an eye out for hostels with a bar or common area.
- Focus on excellent and free Wi-Fi all throughout the hostel.
- Try to find a place that organizes its own tours (like city tours) and has projects going in local communities where you can contribute to a more sustainable way of travel.
- Booking.com and Hostelworld are great place to find good hostels. Make sure to always check both because some hostels are on Hostelworld, but not on Booking.
- Check the most recent reviews (within the same year)! Next to the above mentioned features, pay extra attention to the quality of the staff. They can make or break your hostel experience.
Airbnb holds a lot of perks if you know what you want. From rooms in a local’s house to a whole flat for yourself or lodgings with a more creative concept. Here are some ways you can locate the best Airbnb for your needs.
- Start by asking yourself if this is the kind of stay that you want. If you like freshly made beds at the end of the day or a continental breakfast included, this is not the accommodation you want. But if you would like the experience to live like a local and have a level of independence, you will enjoy it.
- Check the list of amenities very well and see if everything you need is covered (shared room, WiFi, laundry, …).
- Keep an eye on hosts with a detailed product description and excellent reviews.
- Respect your host by sticking to their accommodation rules.
Couchsurfing may have lost some of its popularity, but it is still a good option when visiting some of the more expensive (and very safe) European countries like those in Scandinavia. You will be able to benefit from a real cultural exchange and all of that for free. Do keep a good eye on hosts with a good review status. For your own safety and comfort, familiarize yourself with Couchsurfing’s recommended safety tips.
Some countries have excellent camping grounds and others (like Norway) even allow wild camping all over the country. Make sure you research the laws in every county because some only allow you to stick to official grounds.
If wild camping is for you, you will experience some benefits such as saving money, connecting with your natural surroundings and a different kind of traveler, develop a new skill-set and release everyday stresses. It is also a common misconception that you need to be a hardcore, outdoor enthusiasts to go wild camping while the truth is, you can do so on any level. Here are some tips for your next wild camping trip:
- Research the best food options. Dried and powdered foods are quick and easy and also a good way to avoid trash. Make sure you keep your food in decently closed containers so you don’t attract wildlife or make the food go bad.
- If you need to use the toilet, make sure you keep some distance between yourself and the fresh water source so you don’t infect it. Dig a hole and bring biodegradable bags to carry the used toilet paper with, never leave it behind!
- Do not drag liters of water with you. Instead, invest in a water filtration system.
- While there are plenty of navigation apps, they can fail you. Make sure you bring a recent map of the area as well as a compass.
- Bring a gas stove to prepare your meals.
- Do not weight yourself down with luxuries. Pack light!
Our destination guides are all written with a particular focus. While we teach you about the ins and outs of the destinations themselves, we build our tips and tricks around the practical guide including the best time to travel and the top things to do, making them extensive guides and the only ones you will need. While we cover big destinations as well, we will also offer you an insight into the smaller ones often overlooked by other travel websites.
Not sure yet about your next destination? Browse our website and get inspired. From Europe to Asia, from the United States to the Caribbean, we are here to share our experiences and our stories.