I’ve been traveling 365 days a year for over 8 years and have learned a thing or two on the road. Hope you find some of these travel resources helpful as you plan your next adventure!
Over the past decade of my travels, I’ve stayed in a wide variety of accommodation types. Because nine of those years I was a full time traveler, it also meant I spent a good portion of my travels staying in budget accommodation. It’s been surprisingly amazing!
Value is always a top priority for me instead of price. Nowadays I outweigh the benefits prioritizing properties with an amazing location that also offer wifi. In fact, some of my favorite places were under $30 a night and many times they offered more value than a $250/night hotel.
But everything depends on the location. For example, in Southeast Asia guest house accommodation is incredibly affordable so Airbnb wouldn’t be my first choice whereas in Europe where hotels are more expensive I always use Airbnb. More info below.
I love Airbnb for accommodation in Europe and major cities around the world. This is particularly cost effective if traveling with more than one person or with a group.
As a bonus, some Airbnb locations offer incredible benefits such as epic views, unique accommodation types, and stylish living options. Certain locations can offer so much more than a hotel. They can also be a part of what makes your travel experience truly unique, such as my boat rental in Miami, amazing!
I prefer to to book “the entire home” instead of opting for shared accommodation on Airbnb. Aside from safety, I also like to feel like I’m living in the destination and enjoy the privacy this offers. It’s a small taste of local life plus you get more amenities than you would at a hotel such as a kitchen and washing machine. Read these Airbnb packing tips for more info!
Since I’m always working on the go then Airbnb becomes the most convenient choice for accommodation because it offers a nice, quiet space to get work done. Because I spent so much of the past decade living out of a suitcase I also appreciate the feeling that I have a home away from home in an Airbnb.
Use my personal Airbnb referral link and get a free $40 credit to use on your first booking!
When traveling to less expensive destinations such as Southeast Asia or Central America, I prefer to stay in local guest houses rather than Airbnb because they tend to be more cost effective. Guest houses are small local-run hotels and they can be inexpensive, clean, and offer many amenities so you can get alot of value for your money.
I stayed in a beach front guest house in Koh Samui, Thailand that cost $60/night and had a pool, wifi, and a balcony overlooking the sea. In Moalboal, Philippines I stayed at another simple but well-equipped beach front guest house and spent only $30/night yet enjoyed gorgeous sunsets and world class snorkeling ten yards from my room.
Use my personal Booking.com referral link to get $20 off your next trip!
I do enjoy the convenience and comfort of a hotel room and always stay in hotels when traveling for business or for conferences to ensure I have all the amenities I need to get work done efficiently.
Airbnbs sometimes lack basic things like hair dryers, irons, or an easy check-in process. I like being able to retreat back to my room in between conference sessions.
I’ve also found that in some places like San Diego, California a private Airbnb costs the same amount as a nice hotel so I’d rather stay at a hotel if it’s the same price.
I’ll stay at a resort on special occasions and might even indulge in an all inclusive if I stumble upon a good deal.
I book hotels or resort with Booking.com and Hotels.com. I like the fact that Hotels.com gives you a free night for every ten you book but for some reason I still prefer to use Booking.com because they tend to have a wider selection because they include smaller family-run properties, too. (Good value for money!)
Tip: Hotels.com gives you a free night for every ten nights you book!
I traveled as a backpacker pre-Airbnb era so I also stayed in many hostels during my time. These were some of my most memorable and fun experiences as I got to meet so many interesting people from all over the world! This was one of my favorite aspects of being a solo traveler! (Here are my recommended hostel essentials.)
While I used to always opt for a 4-6 bed dorm room, I now choose a private room if I’m staying at a hostel as I enjoy my privacy more so than I did when I started traveling.
My husband and I will still occasionally stay in a private room in a nice, boutique hostel if we’re after a social atmosphere because many hostels offer common rooms and restaurants where you can meet other travelers.
I recommend hostels for solo travelers rather than Airbnb because they offer a more social environment. If you don’t feel comfortable staying in a dorm with other people or need privacy, you can stay in a private room in a hostel and still have the benefits of using the common area to meet other travelers.
As a bonus, hostels also offer the best prices on local tours and activities giving you even more opportunities to make new travel friends. (To give you an example of the difference in tour prices: a hostel in Playa del Carmen charged $39 for the same exact Chichen Itza tours other companies and hotels were selling at twice the price!)
One thing to note is that if you’re traveling with someone else, then other accommodation options can be more cost effective than hostels.
Always read the reviews before booking to get the best idea if the hostel is right for you. Some are quiet and family friendly while others are known for their party atmosphere. For hostels, I use Hostelworld.com.
Not sure about staying at a hostel? Read this.
Long Term Stays
For extended travel, I always book the first 1-2 nights when arriving in a new destination. Once I’ve had a chance to get situated in the new destinations, I search for a different place to stay or extend my booking.
While Airbnb is a convenient place to find long-term stays, you might also find good deals in guest houses in destinations such as Southeast Asia or Latin America. You find these deals by walking around the area you’d like to stay in and looking for “for rent” signs.
For example, in Playa del Carmen, hotels can cost an average of $150/night but a one-month rental in a basic apartment or family run hotel can start at $600/month. In Thailand, I’ve rented a clean and basic guest house for $200/month and a 2-bedroom house for about $600/month including utilities and weekly cleaning. (This is why long-term travel can be so affordable. Many budget travelers with a flexible schedule can negotiate rates that would cost less in one month than one week in a resort.)
Another way I maximized my money and my travel experiences was by participating in work exchanges through Workaway that provide free accommodation in exchange for 20 hours of work per week. Consider this a “working vacation” and I had some of my best travel experiences in these work exchanges.
I always browse for the cheapest dates to fly using Skyscanner.net then purchase my ticket on Travelocity.com or CheapOair.com. for the best deals. (Travelocity has a 24 hour refund policy for women that find it hard to commit to a flight, like me!)
Read this post for my five step process to find the best flight deals.
For Round the World trips and journeys with destinations in different parts of the globe, I save money by booking RTW tickets. Believe it or not, they’re a great value! My agent of choice is Airtreks especially because you can get free quotes using their airfare planning tool. This is how a round-the-world (RTW) ticket works.
FREQUENT FLYER MILES
If you travel, you HAVE TO join frequent flyer miles programs that allow you to get free flights and other rewards. I have a brief explanation here but the real experts are Frugal Travel Guy and The Points Guy.
I love the One World Alliance because I can make the most of one way flight awards with American Airlines which is great since I never have an end destination in mind.
Find out how I’ve earned numerous free international flights by shopping!
For many travelers, the travel guide is dead but I still find mine to be a valuable resource to find everything I need in one convenient location – especially to find local transportation tips that help me travel on a budget.
For budget travelers, I love the Lonely Planet “Shoestring” series that offers details specifically for those with tiny travel funds. These are my favorites:
- Southeast Asia on a shoestring
- South America on a shoestring
- Central America on a shoestring
- Europe on a shoestring
Travel guides also help consolidate travel tips into a region instead of just one country making them a better overall value, too.
On my round-the-world trip, having travel insurance saved me $800 in hospital fees.
I used Travel Guard which had customer service 24/7 and helped me figure out all the doctor bills with ease no matter what part of the world I was in.
Just keep all your hospital receipts and get a check for any money spent when you return home. Easy enough!
I’m probably one of the few travelers that will encourage you to take a tour – if it’s the only way to get you comfortable with the idea about exploring the world, then do it!
Back in 2008 when I was scared to travel on my own I started traveling by taking tours with G Adventures (or GAP like they were called back then). I used their services to go to Egypt, Jordan, Brazil, Argentina, and Peru.
Their tours are a great option for solo travelers because they don’t charge you a single supplement fee and it’s a perfect introduction to traveling. If I hadn’t started out by taking tours, I would still be stuck behind a cubicle!
In 2008, I did a yoga & spirituality tour with Sacred Earth Journeys and it changed my life! (That’s when I decided to quit life to travel.) If you’re looking for a travel experience that offers more of a personal journey, check out their tours!
Tip: look for free walking tours like the New Europe tours in Europe. They’re a great way to get oriented with a city and help you make the most of your time – all you do is give them a tip!
To get the best exchange rate when I travel I pull money out at ATM machines and use xe.com for currency exchange rate information. Download their app for money updates on the go. Here are tips on how to exchange foreign currency.
I am a brand loyal gal and all my travel backpacks (and now suitcase) have been Osprey because I need a stylish bag that’s going to last the wear and tear of long term travel. Read my reviews here.
This is a complete list of all my digital nomad travel gadgets and electronics:
Before you do anything else, download our FREE printable packing list. Not only can you print it, but you can customize it and save it, too! Everyone says it’s the most comprehensive travel checklist online. And the best part? It’s free!
Use our sample summer and fall capsule wardrobes along with our international packing lists to learn what to pack for your trip. If you don’t find the destination you need, ask a question to our community on our free Facebook Group!
Obviously you’re reading TFG for awesome packing tips, but did you also know I have an eBook? Never check bags again by reading “Pack Light Stylishly”.
For a step by step guide to packing and planning for your trip, please read our Getting Started page.
PRINTABLE TRAVEL CHECKLIST