MY TOP TRAVEL RESOURCES
Planning a trip can be pretty daunting. Whether you're off on a long-term adventure or just a weekend away, there's a lot to think about.
What should you pack? How do you find flight deals or the perfect place to stay? Can you travel more sustainably? How do you budget? Do you really need travel insurance?
I don't have all the answers, but I've learned a few things in my three decades of travel, and this is where I share all my best travel resources with you.
I'll make a small commission if you make a purchase using the links on this page. It won't cost you anything extra, and it helps me keep the blog going. Everything included here is a personal recommendation so you can be sure it's something I genuinely use and love. Thanks so much for your support.
Sometimes all you know is that you're desperate to get away. Dreaming of where to go when you've finally saved up those annual leave days. Wondering if maybe you can squeeze in a quick weekend away in the meantime. Perhaps you're already on the road and you're trying to find out what to do nearby.
Here are some posts to get you started.
If you're looking for the cheapest options then using a flight aggregator will show you the best deals available for a given date or range of dates.
Google flights is usually the first place I look, particularly if I'm flexible on the dates that I can travel. One of my favourite features is the ability to track flight prices so that I can see if there's suddenly a sale that makes my dream location affordable.
Another great option is Skyscanner. I often use this if I have no specific destination in mind and just want to see where the cheapest flights are from where I am. This can be a really fun way to visit somewhere that you'd never even thought of!
If you're able to travel by train or bus to your destination then I highly recommend checking out Omio, especially for train travel within Europe. They've even got a handy app which makes booking on the go really easy.
WHERE TO STAY
My go-to for accommodation is Booking.com which is really easy to use. They've got a great app, and the calendar function will show all your booked stays in chronological order - perfect to spot if you've got any nights you've forgotten to book. I also love the Genius discount which rewards you with 10-15% off if you're a loyal customer.
For boutique eco-luxury I'm a fan of Mr & Mrs Smith. Their team vets every property and there's a big emphasis on eco-credentials and how places give back to their local communities. Transparency is really important in the responsible travel space and I think these guys are doing it right.
For longer-term stays I use AirBnB. It's often the best way to find something affordable as a digital nomad. Make sure that the property is locally owned and staying with hosts is the best way to explore like a local!
Renting a car or campervan can be an absolute nightmare. Trying to work out what's going on with added extras or insurance premiums between individual companies is really hard.
As a result, I tried out several aggregators for car hire and found that Auto Europe worked best for me. Despite the name, you can also use their platform for car hire in the USA. The 24-hour customer support is invaluable if you run into trouble with your booking, and they have really clear information on booking inclusions when you search.
I also highly recommend getting specific rental car excess insurance - I use insurance4carhire for this. If you do have an accident, this means you're not liable to pay the excess that the hire company charges. This can lead to a significant saving if the worst happens. As with all insurance, make sure you read the terms and conditions carefully to make sure it's right for you.
VISAS & VACCINATIONS
Depending on your citizenship and where you're going, it's entirely possible that you'll need a visa for your trip. Some countries provide visas on arrival, but others require you to secure your visa before you travel. Always check before you book.
To determine what vaccinations are recommended for travel to particular destinations, I advise using the Fit for Travel site. Although it's UK-based, the information is generally applicable to all travellers to the destinaions.
For the latest on COVID-19 restrictions the IATA has a really great interactive tool that I highly recommend. I would also advise checking online to see if there is an embassy located in your home country that you can contact for the latest rules.
My most memorable trip to Egypt involved a heatwave, near death experience, and iced-water enemas. For years, I've been the doctor treating people who've had to cancel their dream trip mid-holiday. I feel that I'm pretty uniquely equipped to discuss the benefits of good travel insurance.
For great insurance specifically created for Digital Nomads and frequent travellers, I highly recommend SafetyWing. They provide both travel and health insurance, and you can use your cover for short trips home if you've held it for 90 days.
For permanent residents of the UK & Europe I recommend TrueTraveller. They offer insurance if you're already on the road, comprehensive policies and donate a small portion of your policy payment to the Sheldrick Wildlife Trust. COVID-related claims are accepted.
When the world is running as normal I recommend World Nomads. Their cover is comprehensive and claims are processed smoothly. You can extend your cover easily online if you decide to stay away a little longer. Unfortunately, they currently have several restrictions around any claims related to COVID.
One of the best things about travelling is being able to meet local people and experience new cultures, cuisines and traditions. I love taking tours with locals when I travel, and I honestly think that you're missing out if you don't take the opportunity to get involved.
For Africa and Asia, you should explore I Like Local who work in 19 countries in the region. Their trips are locally-curated and range from homestays to nature walks and dining with local families.
If you're going to be heading off on a city adventure, then you can't get much better than Urban Adventures. There's a real focus on immersion in local communities in more off-the-beaten-path destinations. I also love that you're able to search for women-led tours.
Finally, for entire trips that are created with local communities and experiences in mind, I love G Adventures. I've been on several trips with them and particularly enjoy the 'G for Good' moments and that they use locally based guides.
When you travel a lot, overseas transaction charges can add up pretty fast. I have a Wise multi-currency account with a linked credit card and it's bloody fantastic.
There are multiple supported currencies so when I'm the UK I use my GBP account without any fees. In the EU I have a Euro account which allows me to make transactions far cheaper than with my bank. It also allows me to hold a USD account. In short, it's like magic.
Obviously, this is just my own personal opinion and you need to make sure it's right for you before you sign up.
ECO-FRIENDLY TRAVEL ESSENTIALS
There are some things that I think are absolutely essential when you travel. I thought long and hard about the things that I've used virtually everywhere I've travelled. Given that sometimes I'm in the middle of the Russian Arctic and sometimes I'm scuba diving in New Zealand, that was a bit of a mission. You'll be thrilled to know I've somehow narrowed it down to three. And a half.
First up is a SteriPEN. Get the more expensive Ultra and thank me later. With a UV bulb that's guaranteed to last 8,000 uses (SteriPEN will replace it if it burns out), at 4L/day that's going to get you 5.5 years of water treatment.
Obviously, you need something to drink that out of, so a reusable water bottle is a must. If you're not going to be going anywhere with unsafe drinking water then you can just take this and forget about the SteriPEN. I have a Hydroflask and love that it keeps my water cold for hours. If you want do save weight and don't mind drinking warmish water then a nalgene bottle is another good option.
This is where the half comes in. If you'll be travelling in places where you're likely to need to get water from sources with lots of sediment (muddy rivers for example) then something like a Lifestraw that will filter sediment is a better option to pair with your SteriPEN.
Last up is reef-safe sunscreen. Even if you're not going to be going anywhere where there's a reef, this is the best option. You should make sure that the mineral UV-filter is a non-nano zinc oxide. I use and love Drunk Elephant SPF30.
Obviously, the best camera is the one you have in your pocket, so your phone might be all you need. If you're keen to upgrade to something a bit more professional, then here's what I use to take the images that you see on this blog.
My camera body is a Sony A7riii, with a variety of lenses. My most frequently used for travel is the 24-70. My drone is the DJI Air2S and I love it. For editing I use both Lightroom and Photoshop.
I've become a lover of hiking over the last 18 months or so, and take any opportunity that I possibly can to get outside and (often) up a hill. I've come to the conclusion that the best things you can do when it comes to hiking are find a great pair of comfortable, waterproof boots, socks that keep your feet cozy and hiking poles to help your knees on the downhill.
I'm not sure if the final point makes me old now, but my knees are happy so who cares?!
ESSENTIAL TRAVEL APPS
When it gets right down to it, there are only really 3 apps that I can't manage to travel without. The first is a navigation app - for most of the world that's GoogleMaps, but for Russia it's Yandex. Second, a translation app - once again Google and Yandex for Russian. Finally, for keeping track of hiking routes and following trails you need a decent GPS app - I use Gaia.
If you're keeping track of your budget, you might also want to get the Xe.com app, which I find gives the most accurate current conversion rates for multiple currencies.
The links below are for iOS, but they're all also available in the Android store.