View from the Carnival Destiny in St. Thomas, USVI
Travel is amazing, and it all starts with the planning. Here are some resources that I use whenever I need to start working on a trip.
Airbnb – Looking for a place to stay out of the ordinary? A spare room, couch, or entire apartment? Airbnb is the place! You and the hosts listing on the site are verified which adds a layer of security, and always remember to read those reviews! Use this link to save $25 off your first stay.
Hostel World – I use this site to search and book all of our hostels. It offers city and country search options as well as a map so you can see where your places of interests and transportation are relative to the hostels you are interested in. You pay a small reservation fee on the site at booking, and then pay the remaining balance upon check-in.
Hotels.com – Easy place to book and research hotels. I always like to look up the hotel directly to see if they offer the same price. Booking direct can also get you free upgrades at check-in.
Google Flights – I love this site. You can search for your flight dates, choose multiple airports, and even check out the calendar to see if moving up a week will save you money. Bonus: the site gives you tips if your flights are flexible which can save you hundreds if you move to a different airport or add a day on to your trip, for example. There is also a map feature so you can see what prices are around the world for a given date in case you haven’t picked a destination yet.
Kayak – I’ve never booked from this site but it is great to condense searching and to get a rough idea of the flights, hotels, car rentals that you a re looking for. I usually check here first and then compare that to prices on the airline’s website to see if there is a difference.
Delta – I prefer to book direct with the airline when I can so if there is an issue with the flight we won’t be shafted by the “third party booking” system. Delta will take care of you, Expedia, not so much. Tip- register for a frequent flyer account. As you earn miles you earn boarding privilege, access to lounges, and sometimes cheaper fares. Plus, companies take care of companies who return to them.
United Airlines – Again, booking direct with the airline can save you a headache later in the event of a problem. Also sign up for their Frequent flyer program, it can’t hurt.
Things To Do:
Lonely Planet – This site is amazing when it comes to searching for things to do. You can search by country or city and there are often reviews and info from people who have visited before you. You can also be redirected to sites that allow you to purchase tickets directly, as well as Skip the Line tickets and special tour packages.
The Government – Need to update your passport? Have questions about Visas?
STEP for US Citizens – Registering with the consulate before you travel isn’t necessary, but it is smart. You will be emailed or receive text messages if there is something going on it the country you are visiting. Also, in the event of an emergency, if the government knows you are there, they will know to contact your family and attempt to locate you.
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Things We love:
Osprey Backpacks – I have the Osprey Kestrel 32L and Marcus has the Osprey Porter 46L. We travelled Italy with these packs and they made our lives for those 2 weeks amazing. They are small so they force you to pack light, and they are both carry-on size which means no checking luggage! I picked packs that were easy to access and fit out body types.
Eagle Creek packing cube set – I got these for my birthday and I LOVE them. No more rummaging through your bags trying to find matching socks or a clean shirt. Keeping your clothing compartmentalized helps cut down on wrinkles, and a messy bag. Marcus used 2.5 gallon freezer bags, but we much rather prefer these cubes for clean clothes. They breathe so no musty smell after washing!
Pocket Earth Pro – This is an app that I downloaded onto my iphone and we would have been lost without it…literally! You can download entire city maps while you have wi-fi and then use them offline with your phone’s GPS. It’s worth the $2.99 any day. It will also give you directions should you need them.