There are thousands of online travel resources to help you travel smarter and cheaper… actually, there are too many. It’s easy to spend hours wading through them all. So don’t!
That’s why we’ve gathered the crème de la crème. The best of the best. The… ok, you get my point.
Thanks to my prized Amazon Prime, I always check Amazon when I’m looking for new travel gear. But be sure to shop around because sometimes you’ll find a better selection from other online shops but it’s impossible to beat their selection.
Best For: Guidebooks, backpacks, socks/underwear, digital cameras, packing cubes, and random travel gadgets.
REI is the gold standard when it comes to outdoor gear so it’s the place to buy backpacks, shoes, socks, etc. There is also have REI Outlet — which often has good deals on previous season gear.
Best For: Backpacks, socks/underwear, outerwear, and camping gear.
It’s almost impossible to beat Zappos when you’re looking for shoes and boots — they seem to have everything. Plus, their shipping is crazy fast and returns are easy. Additionally, they also have a good selection of backpacks and some clothing.
Best For: Shoes, backpacks, and socks.
Sierra Trading Post doesn’t have the selection of REI but they do have a lot of good deals on travel gear. Additionally, Backcountry sometimes has decent promotions.
Best For: Basic outdoor gear.
What should you pack? What should you leave at home?
We got you covered!
Check out our packing list for men and our packing list for women.
Check out our guide to the best travel backpacks where I review the most-popular backpacks on the market.
World Nomads is the most popular travel insurance for budget travelers. I used them on my first trip to Europe and they get pretty good reviews from fellow travelers. And it doesn’t cover just health issues — it also covers trip cancellations, theft, car insurance, and a few other things. Signing up is quick and easy.
There are hundreds of airfare websites so it’s easy to get lost down that rabbit hole. Don’t be one of those people that spend dozens of hours trying to save $10 on a $1000 ticket — remember, your time is valuable.
That’s why I’ve gathered the best booking sites below. Using these resources there is a 95% you’ll be able to find the best deal without spending countless hours in front of your computer.
If you want to get mired down in the nitty-gritty details of trying to save every penny on airfare then you should check out FlyerTalk.
Momondo is quietly an excellent airfare search engine that a lot of people don’t know about. Many times I find the best price here — especially for international flights/flights within Europe. They also have a few extra tools to help fine-tune your search.
I’m still a fan of Kayak and I always check them out when I’m looking for tickets. It’s especially good for finding tickets to Europe but it rarely finds the best intra-Europe tickets.
It’s Google so you know it has to be good. Google actually owns the software that all other airfare booking sites use. I like how Google Flights shows the price of flying into a number of airports around Europe — which is nice if your itinerary is flexible.
Scott’s Cheap Flights is an awesome email list that sends you daily flight deals that are super cheap. There is both a free and premium service — I highly recommend this service.
Airfare Watchdog is great because it monitors airfare deals and then sends you alerts when it finds something. This is a great service if you’re flexible with your travel time.
Not all seats on an airplane are created equal so before you choose your seat you should check out SeatGuru. It gives a rating for every seat on every plane so you can get the best seat possible.
While it may suck, sometimes you just have to sleep in an airport. Sleeping in Airports list just about every airport and tells you the best place to catch some zzz’s.
Taking the train is arguably the best way to travel through Europe — but don’t forget about driving and long-distance coaches!
Omio is a search engine that lets you compare and book trains (and buses and flights) anywhere in Europe. It lets you easily book tickets with your credit card at essentially the same prices as Europe’s National Railways websites. Additionally, Omio searches routes for multiple rail services across Europe so it’s great for international trips (since it can easily combine rail journeys of multiple countries).
Omio also has a great app so all your tickets can be downloaded digitally to your smartphone.
TrainLine is another third-party booking site that connects directly to most of Europe’s National Rail networks and gives you the same prices you’d find there. They also take international credit card payments and lets you pick up your tickets at the train station, print your own tickets, or download them to your phone.
Additionally, TrainLine searches routes for multiple rail services across Europe so it’s great for international trips (since it can easily combine rail journeys of multiple countries).
Rail Europe sells rail passes and train tickets for most of Europe. Rail Passes can be a good deal if you take a lot of trains so you should do a little research on that option. Rail Europe also sells point-to-point train tickets but their prices are sometimes higher than if you were to buy directly from each country’s rail network website.
Usually, you’re paying extra for the convenience of not having to deal with buying tickets for a foreign website.
Eurail sells European Rail Passes (the same pass as Rail Europe) but I think they do a little better job of helping you choose which pass is the best option. I don’t think you’ll find much price difference between the two sites but they sometimes have special offers.
Seat 61 (aka The Man in Seat 61) is a no-nonsense website that covers just about every aspect of rail train in Europe. The entire site is run by a single English dude that obviously has a deep passion for rail travel. So, if you have a question about train travel, this is a great place to start.
Most major US car rental companies also operate in Europe — and Auto Europe searches all those companies for the best deals. I used them when I rented a car in Paris to visit Normandy and the entire experience went smoothly. Europcar is another similar site that you can check out to compare prices.
BlaBlaCar is “Airbnb” of ride-sharing and it’s exploding throughout Europe. The idea is simple — drivers post their travel itinerary and how much they’re charging for a seat. Riders then log-in and search for drivers that are taking the same route. And, of course, prices are usually much cheaper than the train and you get a chance to meet a local.
There are a number of long-distance coach services throughout Europe. The largest is Eurolines and they have routes that crisscross the continent. Megabus is a discount carrier that serves much of Western Europe and they often have a limited number of super-cheap fares (i.e. under $10).
BusBud is a solid website that searches multiple coach services for the best price/route.
Omio also does a great job of searching out bus journeys and letting you book directly through them.
Hostelworld has been my go-to hostel booking site for 10 years. They are the largest hostel booking site and they make finding the perfect hostel simple.
Sometimes it’s nice to stay in a hotel and Booking.com has made our shortlist of hotel booking sites.
No other company has changed the face of travel more than Trip Advisor. So it’s no surprise that you can book a hotel on Trip Advisor. They pull in results from multiple booking engines so it’s a great place to start your search.
Want to meet people and not spend anything on accommodation? Check out Couchsurfing! It actually takes a bit of time, luck, and flexibility to find someone to host you but it’s possible.
Whether you’re looking for a place to set up a tent or want to rent a cabin, camping can be a great way to slash your accommodation budget — or at least escape the city. The two main campsite finders are CampingInfo and Eurocamp.
Each country usually has a specific website for camping so just google camping + country and you’ll find something (i.e. Camping France).
Good ol’ Rick Steves has all his videos posted on Hulu (see here). Additionally, he has many full episodes available for free on his Youtube channel. Personally, I like watching videos to get inspiration for places to visit.
WikiVoyage is a crowdsources travel site that is basically the Wikipedia of travel. You’ll find a wealth of free information on each country and just about every city.
Reddit has numerous subreddits dedicated to travel.
The major travel guidebooks also have free information on their websites. Don’t expect super in-depth information (that’s what their guidebooks are for) but they’re still worth taking a look.
Trip Advisor has a wealth of user reviews for restaurant and attraction reviews. I don’t rely on it exclusively because it’s well known to be full of fake reviews but I do think you can get a pretty good idea of a place by reading all the reviews.
Atlas Obscura is a website dedicated to the weird, strange, and off-the-beaten-path sights in cities throughout the world.
Looking for a different travel experience? Consider volunteering. There are a ton of people looking for volunteer help (usually manual labor) but they provide food and lodging. The three main websites to check out are WWOOFing, Help X and Work Away.
XE.com is a great site for easily checking current exchange rates. They have a nice app so you can know exactly how much you’re spending.
Here is a list of the best travel apps to help you plan your trip and save money while you’re on the road.