Here’s an absolutely kick-ass collection of my favorite travel and adventure resources.
It has everything from the best websites for booking cheap flights and hotels to resources for finding seasonal jobs to lists of international work and volunteer opportunities.
If you’re more curious about the ins and outs of online business, visit my guide to becoming a freelance writer or digital nomad resources page.
And don’t forget: I have a pretty sweet packing list, too.
Bookmark it, share it, print it out and eat it. This stuff is GOOD.
Hopper: My favorite flight app. It tells you if now’s a good time to buy; if it’s not, it’ll alert you when it is. It doesn’t have data for obscure international routes, though.
Skiplagged: Wanna find a deal? This site does some serious hacking, and can find some seriously great prices.
ITA Software: Matrix Airfare Search: Though the interface takes a bit of getting used to, it has unrivaled options for checking both flexible dates and multiple departure/arrival cities. (Note you can’t actually book your flight through this site; after finding the best combo of dates/cities, you’ll have to book it directly on the airline’s website.)
Momondo: This site often has discounted tickets that don’t show up on other sites (especially on international routes). It doesn’t sell the tickets and is merely an aggregator, though — so before you buy, I’d recommend researching the ticket vendor to make sure they’re legit. So far, I’ve had excellent luck with the site, but some of its vendors have less-than-perfect reputations.
Airfare Watchdog: Sign up for its newsletter, which will email you with good deals from your home airport.
WhichBudget: If you’re traveling within a country or region abroad, this site will help you find flights on local budget airlines that aren’t listed on other search engines.
indie: For the dreamer in all of us, this is an awesome search engine on which you can plan your RTW (round-the-world) flights, complete with prices and suggested stops.
Airbnb: Airbnb will change the way you travel. You can rent anything from a room in an apartment to an entire castle — and often, live where the locals live — anywhere in the world. I almost exclusively stay at Airbnbs these days. Sign up with my code and you’ll get $35 off your first booking!
Booking.com: I’m not sure why a lot of travel bloggers promote Hotels.com. Sure, they give you your 10th night free — but does that really matter if you’re spending more on all of your stays? I find WAY cheaper options on Booking. I think it has the best selection of local guesthouses and B&Bs, period. I also love the plethora of photos, reviews, and search filters it provides.
HostelWorld: This is the king of hostel booking sites, and for good reason. If a hostel isn’t on here, you probably don’t want to stay there. Lots of reviews and photos from travelers.
AllTheRooms: New site that searches every type of accommodation — hotel, Airbnb, VRBO, homestay, etc. — to offer a whopping 14 million rooms across the globe.
Trivago: Hotel booking site that compares deals between Orbitz, Expedia, etc, so you can find the cheapest rate! Really cool.
HotelTonight: Click here to read why this became my favorite new hotel booking app. (Use code “Junkette25” for $25 off your first booking!)
Couchsurfing: I’m a big fan of Couchsurfing. In case you haven’t heard of it, it’s a database where travelers can search for a free place to sleep. The idea is that once you have a place, you’ll offer up your couch to another traveler. Even if you don’t feel comfortable staying at somebody’s house (I only stay with girls unless I’m traveling with a guy), it’s still a great place to meet travelers in a new city. They have forums, groups, and meetups — an awesome way to meet locals and find out about local happenings.
How to Become a House-Sitter and See the World: With housesitting, you can stay at houses around the world — for FREE. The bloggers behind Hecktic Travels have done it for years, and shared their expertise in this book. I recently purchased it and am learning so much. It even comes with discount codes for their favorite housesitting sites!
Rome2Rio: Easily compare ALL your transportation options to see which is cheapest and easiest.
The Man in Seat 61: An absolutely indispensable guide to train travel worldwide
AutoSlash: Good site for booking car rentals. It searches many different rental agencies at once, adds coupons, and finds the best rate. Then, if the rate drops, they’ll automatically rebook your rental for you! I also like Priceline’s “Name Your Own Price” option.
Rail Europe: Traveling by train with a rail pass is the best way to get around Europe. You can purchase country-specific or regional passes that are either unlimited or offer a certain amount of travel days within a limited time.
Seat Guru: Choose your seats with knowledge! Select your airline and flight number; good seats will be marked in green, and particularly bad ones in red. If only it could tell you which seat the crying baby will occupy!
Sleeping in Airports: Get the skinny on airports worldwide: the best and worst to sleep in, locations of the quiet spots, and the wifi and food situations.
Turo: A peer-to-peer service that lets you rent cars from local owners. (Only available in the US and Alberta, Ontario & Quebec.)
Mint: My favorite financial tool EVER. Keep track of all of your bank accounts, credit cards, investments, and loans in one place, and create a budget to save up for traveling. Best part? It’s free!
Digit: I can’t say enough good things about this app. It connects to your bank account and uses some sort of magic algorithm to determine how much money it can safely withdraw into a separate savings account. In the past two years, Digit helped me saved more than $4,000! (Which I promptly blew on travel, of course.)
TopCashback: If and when you need to buy travel gear (click here for my philosophy on that), make sure you earn cash back on your purchases. TopCashback has the best rates in the biz, often offering 8% cashback at sites like Sierra Trading Post and Backcountry.
Budget Your Trip: Super useful site showing average costs of essentials in locations around the world. You can also upload your own experiences to help fellow travelers.
Trail Wallet: This app is essential for tracking your everyday expenses — and it automatically makes pretty pie charts so you can see where your money went.
Charles Schwab Debit Card: You can read my full review of the Charles Schwab debit card here, but I’ll just say: if you travel, you need this debit card. In terms of credit cards, I love my Chase Sapphire Reserve.
The Earth Awaits: Omg this new site is so cool. It suggests places to live based on cost, crime rate, internet speed, etc.
Squaremouth: The first place I go when looking for travel insurance, and usually the last. I love the fact I can compare many company’s plans side-by-side, and I always find great deals here.
CDC Travelers’ Health: The best resource out there for information on immunizations and other travel health concerns.
State Farm: I use State Farm’s “personal articles” policy to insure my laptop and cameras. I’ve never had to make a claim (searching for some wood to knock on…), so I’m not sure how that process goes, but for $60/year, I’d say it’s well worth it.
CIA World Factbook: For true travel geeks only, here’s where you can get reliable and detailed info about every part of the world.
State Department Travel Warnings: The current travel warnings and advisories from the United States State Department.
Cool Works: The best seasonal/adventure jobs web site out there. Tons of job listings and a great forum.
Job Monkey: A plethora of information about different types of seasonal jobs, plus job listings.
Backdoor Jobs: Careful selection of fun, and often meaningful, jobs.
Anywork Anywhere: Great site, though primarily for residents of the UK and Europe.
The United States Antarctic Program: For Americans
looking for winter jobs in Antarctica. (Also check Raytheon Jobs.)
Vail Resorts Jobs: Find work at one of Vail’s many ski resorts.
Sites that seem helpful, but that I haven’t used personally:
Adventure Jobs UK
American Work Experience
Seasonal Jobs New Zealand
Escape the City: Inspiring community of people looking to escape the corporate world — I especially like the “opportunities” section, which has cool jobs and volunteer opportunities everywhere from Nepal to Nairobi.
Worldwide Opportunities on Organic Farms (WWOOF): This is one of the best ways to travel for cheap. In exchange for your labor on an organic farm, you’ll receive free room and board. An awesome opportunity to learn about organic farming and a new culture. (I did it on a goat farm!)
Workaway.info: A similar concept to WWOOF, this site features sweet opportunities for you to exchange a few hours of work for room and board. More focused on providing cultural or language exchange.
Helpx: Another awesome resource. In their own words, they’re an “online listing of host organic farms, non-organic farms, farmstays, homestays, ranches, lodges, B&Bs, backpackers hostels and even sailing boats who invite volunteer helpers to stay with them short-term in exchange for food and accommodation.”
Backpacker Board NZ: It’s easy for American citizens (as well as Canadian and UK, I think) to get “working-holiday” visas for the beautiful country of New Zealand. This job board will give you an idea of some of the work available.
Modern Day Nomads: Sign up for their newsletter for some super awesome travel job listings!
Transitions Abroad: One of my absolute favorite resources on moving abroad.
University of Michigan International Center: Though I may be biased, I think U of M’s international website is a fantastic resource for information on working, studying, and volunteering abroad.
Dave’s ESL Cafe: Love it or hate it, this giant of the ESL teaching world has job postings and forums galore.
ESL Teachers Board: Another job board you may find useful.
CELTA: The most powerful and recognized certification for teaching ESL. Very expensive, so make sure you enjoy teaching ESL before committing.
i-to-i TEFL: Provider of online TEFL certifications. Make sure your job requires a certification before spending any money on it.
WorldTeach: Though the programs in Latin America are expensive, WorldTeach can also place you in exotic destinations like Micronesia, American Samoa, and the Marshall Islands — where the positions are funded by the government and won’t cost you anything.
Footprints Recruiting: I’ve heard decent feedback about this company that recruits for paid teaching jobs in many parts of the world.
Gone2Korea: This is the recruiter I used when applying to teach in South Korea. I was delighted with their services and would highly recommend them to anyone. It’s free, so what do you have to lose?!
Great resources for teaching in Asia (which I recommend because beginners are welcome and the pay is good):
Waygook: South Korea
Middle Kingdom Life: China
All About Teaching English in Japan: Japan
Volunteers for Peace: The coolest organization you’ve never heard of. They say it best: “Offers placement in over 1800 short-term international voluntary service programs in 70 countries. Its programs are like the Peace Corps, but short-term.”
Grassroots Volunteering: Started by Shannon of A Little Adrift, this site lists both low-cost volunteering opportunities and local businesses. Sweet idea, sweet lady, sweet site!
Volunteer South America: Amazing site that lists FREE and LOW-COST volunteering opportunities in South America. (This is where I found the organization I volunteered with in Granada.)
Maximo Nivel: One of my exes works at this cool company, which lets you volunteer, intern, or learn Spanish in Costa Rica, Guatemala, and Peru.
omprakash: Wonderful site that connects volunteers with grassroots organizations all around the world.
Idealist: Comprehensive website with jobs, internships, and volunteering opportunities at non-profit organizations. I used to browse this site for hours.
True Travellers Society: Listing of low-cost and free volunteering opportunities all around the world.
Volunteer Africa: A fairly new site modeled after Volunteer South America. Though it’s still young, it already has some great opportunities, and I’m picturing big things for this site!
Volunteering in Thailand: If you know you want to go to Thailand, check out this site!
All Hands Volunteers: I’ve heard good things about this organization that runs small volunteering projects — usually in places affected by natural disasters.
Volunteer Global: If you want to volunteer abroad, but feel like you might need a little hand holding, check out this organization. They offer reasonably priced volunteer opportunities with community-based organizations in Latin American countries.
Volunteer Forever: Super helpful reviews of volunteering programs from past volunteers.
Entremundos: Organization that facilitates free volunteering opportunities in the amazing country of Guatemala.
Trip 180: New site that connects travelers directly with organizations who need volunteers.
globalhelpswap: A handpicked selection of responsible volunteering opportunities around the world.
Award Wallet: Wonderful organizational tool to keep track of all of your miles and points balances.
Cashback Monitor: You should always be earning miles for online shopping, and this site makes it easy. Just type in the name of the store at which you’re shopping, and it lists affiliated awards programs, points offered, and even coupon codes.
NerdWallet: Signing up for credit cards (if you have good credit and can be responsible with them) is a great way to earn frequent flyer miles. I love researching new cards with their credit card comparison tool.
FlyerTalk / Milepoint: These hard-core communities are the place to go if you have a question about anything miles and points related.
WebFlyer: This behemoth of a site offers several tools for miles and points junkies, including a mileage converter and mileage calculator.
RewardExpert: Put in your desired flight, and it’ll craft a custom miles and points strategy to get you there.
For more on travel rewards, check out my Penny Hoarder posts on getting started with frequent flyer miles, 21 travel hacking blogs, and 19 frequent flyer resources.
Chowhound: Food nerd heaven. I love checking out boards for places to which I’m traveling. With a little spywork, you’ll be eating with the locals in no time!
Happy Cow: Awesome resource for finding healthy vegetarian food all across the world.
Vayable / Guidehop: Though I haven’t tried these sites yet, I’m obsessed with the concept: get guided by a local when visiting a new pace.
Meetup: A fun way to meet people with common interests in your town or travel destination.
TripBuzz: This site ranks activities (at different American destinations) by popularity.
Zenia: Mystery vacation curator that plans 1-3 day trips in local cities. For now, available in Boston only.
Trip Advisor: One of my favorite sites on the web, with oodles of reviews of hotels, restaurants, and attractions around the globe.
Lonely Planet: I almost always travel with a Lonely Planet guidebook (“LP”). I think they’re the best guidebooks for independent travelers. If you have specific questions, or want to find other travelers to meet up with, check out the Thorn Tree forum.
Bootsnall: Great online resource for independent travelers, with lots of travel articles (many geared toward RTW travel), and a helpful forum.
Let’s Go Guides: Fun budget guidebooks written by Harvard students. Good alternative to Lonely Planet — for Southeast Asia, I actually preferred my Let’s Go.
Vagabonding: An Uncommon Guide to the Art of Long-Term World Travel: This book by travel legend Rolf Potts is a great starting point for novice backpackers.
Travel Independent: “Everything you need to know about independent budget travel (backpacking).” Simple website packed full of info.
Travelfish: Fantastic resource for
planning travels in Southeast Asia.
G Adventures: I’ve never gone on an organized trip, but if I did, it’d be with G Adventures. I’ve heard nothing but good stuff about them. I enjoy perusing their site for ideas and think the trips seem affordable and well-planned. If you don’t want to travel alone, I’d highly suggest you check them out.
STA Travel: Are you a student or under the age of 26? Lucky bastard. STA has discounted flights and packages for you!
Intrepid Travel: Another travel agency whose trips are geared toward the young and adventurous. Worth a look if you’d like to travel in a small group.
duolingo: If you want to learn one of the most common languages, it’s hard to beat this free app. They offer fun games with practice in reading, writing, speaking, and listening.
Radio Lingua: Fun and educational podcasts for learning French, German, Italian, Spanish, or English.
BBC Languages: Lots of good resources here for an array of languages — including an educational telenovela to help you learn Spanish!
Busuu: Learn languages through interactive courses, then practice with the community.
Interpals: The concept of this site is really cool. Find a penpal anywhere in the world, and practice speaking a new language with them. (Warning: you may encounter some creepers in your search!)
More interested in blogs? Here are some of my favorite travel blogs.
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