favorite travel companies

After over four years of traveling, I’ve learned the hard way that no two travel companies are alike. Some offer a far superior service or platform than others, and it takes experience to weed out the duds. On this page, I’m sharing my go-to travel companies for every stage of the travel process!

Affiliate Disclosure: Some, but not all, of the links on this page are affiliate links. If you purchase from my links, I may earn commission on eligible purchases. Affiliate income allows me to share companies whose goods and services I’ve used and love, and keep the content on Sarah L. Travels free! Thanks for reading!

Cheap Flights

Skyscanner is an amazing flight search engine that helps you find the cheapest flight amongst airlines and third party ticketing services. I use it for its “Anywhere” and “Cheapest Month” features, which allow me to find the best flights for a great price by being flexible. You can find my Skyscanner strategy in this article.

Google Flights is a tool you probably already know, but it’s worth mentioning here since it offers a price calendar that will show you prices months in advance. The main drawback is its inability to offer a more flexible search option like Skyscanner does, but it’s still worth checking and I do so frequently!

{Be sure to book directly with the airline once you find the plane ticket you want on a search engine! You can read more about why I recommend this here.}

Accommodations

This is the first step I take to find accommodations when I’m going to a new destination. I like to narrow my search by filtering out any properties with less than a 4-star review, and I filter the price by what I’m willing to pay per night. Works like a charm every time!

Like many people, Airbnb is my favorite website to find apartments when I’d rather have access to a private kitchen. I also like to use its “Hotels” feature, which has helped me find local boutique hotels I’ve loved!

For young (and young at heart) travelers, Hostelworld is the ideal way to find hostels and meet other travelers. This is also a great way for solo travelers make friends along their journey. Two of my favorite places I’ve stayed, Island Backpackers in Santo Domingo and Lubd in Phuket, were both hostels. Check out some awesome places to stay on Hostelworld!

When I was in Southeast Asia, I was on Agoda practically every day. I stayed in hotels listed on Agoda 9 times out of 10. The price point is the best you’ll find, and the properties are wonderful. You can find my fave properties I’ve found there on this page.

Activities + Tours

If I’m going to book a tour at all, GetYourGuide is my first stop. I’ve used this service ever since I studied abroad. You’ll find so many fun tours there, it’ll make your head spin. I’ve booked flamenco show tickets in Barcelona, Vatican skip-the-line tickets, and more all through GetYourGuide. Love them!

I used Klook for the first time when I traveled in Southeast Asia, and their service made my life much easier. I loved that I could book only the transport portion of a greater tour when I visited the famous hand bridge in Vietnam! Also, you can find easy transport options for airport arrivals and departures. There are prices on Klook you can’t beat!

One of the best and most cost-effective ways to see a new destination is by starting off your trip on a free walking tour. Free Tours by Foot and FREETOUR.com both offer many free walking tours, or an option to pay what you can. I prefer to tip at the end of a free walking tour.

I’ve gotten to participate in general historical and cultural tours, as well as specialized and seasonal ones, such as a free walking tour of New York City’s holiday storefronts!

Trains, Buses, + Ferries

I’ve been an Omio customer since I studied abroad in Barcelona. They offer a search engine to help you find the best, cheapest train and bus tickets in Europe. They’ve recently expanded to the U.S., so I look forward to using their service in my home country!

Seat 61 is one of my favorite travel blogs of all time! As a train travel lover, Seat 61 has helped me plan epic train journeys all around the world. It’s my go-to website any time I want to know about the train systems in my destination of choice!

Similar to Omio, Baolau offers a train search engine and booking service concentrated in Asia. Baolau’s service turned out to be a lifesaver for me when I rode an overnight train in Vietnam, because you can’t book a train there with a foreign credit card! For a small fee, Baolau handles the reservation for you and you can book with all major credit card companies.

Tech

I think VPNs should be used by everyone in the name of data protection and privacy, but an added benefit for travelers is the ability to do so when you’re constantly on free (read: unsecured) WiFi networks. I also love to use mine so I can watch U.K. Netflix wherever I want!

I’ve used NordVPN over 2 years, and I’m never going back. I’ve even noticed that my VPN will speed up a slow WiFi connection!

You can get this awesome service for just $2.49/month!

As a frequent international traveler, phone service is a real pain in the you-know-where. Or, at least it was until Google Fi came on the scene. I’m an Apple user, so I knew there were some glitches with Google Fi’s compatibility.

However, I am happy to say that I experienced none of them when using the service for 6 weeks in Asia. I got to keep an American phone number, use the same sim card in 3 different countries, and have strong data!

All of these perks for Google Fi’s price are impossible to beat. If you’ve hesitated to try it out, what are you waiting for? Google Fi is my phone service of choice as a traveler!

Can anyone survive without Google Maps anymore? I know I can’t. Seriously.

I use Google Maps when abroad (and at home, if I’m being honest) to not only get directions, but to see local public transportation options. I prefer to walk or take the metro when traveling instead of getting a taxi or Uber. But, if I do end up needing a ride, Google Maps will estimate how much my ride will cost and even link to the app I can book through.

If you don’t already use Google Maps when traveling, you should be! It’s saved my tail many times over.

Between my Book List and my Bookshop.org profile, I’m sure you can gather that I have a slight obsession with books. I’m a firm believer in the companionship of a paperback, and I love getting to see adorable local bookstores around the world. But, sometimes the convenience of eBooks is what I need on the road.

Enter: Libby. Libby is an app and website connected to Overdrive, a service many libraries use to offer eBooks to their patrons for checkout.

My local library is connected to Libby, so I can log in and upload my library card to the app and use it to check out all the reads on my TBR list!

Personally, I like to learn at least the basics of a new language when I’m visiting a country I’ve never been to before. Duolingo is a fun way to learn a new phrases in several languages!

I’ve used the app to brush up on my Spanish and Ukrainian, and to start learning German. The bite-sized lessons and achievements keep you going. It feels more like a game than learning. It’s also a great way to pass the time when you’re waiting at the airport or the train station!

Finance + Insurance

Before I knew better, I was one of those ignorant people who used to travel without adequate insurance…

Never. Again.

Not only should you have travel protection in the case of theft, for example, but you also want healthcare coverage no matter where you are in the world. SafetyWing is an insurance company made by digital nomads, for digital nomads. They’re backed by the Japanese insurance giant Tokio Marine, a firm with a long history and thousands of 5-star reviews.

SafetyWing coverage starts at just $37 for 4 weeks!

But, before you purchase a supplemental policy through a service like SafetyWing, make sure your insurer at home doesn’t cover you already. They may require extra paperwork or issue an extra card, so ask them first!

In addition to health insurance coverage overseas, you’ll want to protect your personal property. In fact, theft is one of the most common crimes travelers experience. I’m a firm believer that objects are just that–objects, it majorly sucks to be robbed when you’re already traveling light.

That’s why I have a renter’s insurance policy with Lemonade, an insurtech firm that even donates the premiums that you don’t use! I chose to allocate my donation to improve girls’ education access.

If I hadn’t started traveling, I would have never heard of Charles Schwab. Thank God I did. Seriously.

Their High-Yield Investor Checking account includes a Brokerage One account. More importantly for travelers, the debit card includes no foreign transaction fees and unlimited ATM fee rebates worldwide. Let’s just say those rebates feel like direct deposit hitting after days of withdrawing cash in local currency…

You also don’t have to deposit any money in your account to get started, you’ll never be forced to have a minimum balance, and you won’t pay maintenance fees.

Every international traveler should have a Schwab checking account!

*Before you apply, I want you to know that Schwab will do a hard inquiry into your credit (since this checking account is linked to a brokerage account). It may make your credit score slightly decrease temporarily.

If you love to travel and you can make at least some of your purchases on a credit card, then you’re throwing money out the window if you don’t earn points.

The Chase Ultimate Rewards program, offered through their Sapphire cards, is a flexible way to earn and use points. They have tons of travel partners you can transfer your points to, or you can redeem them within the Ultimate Rewards portal.

In addition to rewards, perks include travel insurance for interruption or lost luggage!

With the Chase Sapphire Preferred, I earn 2x the points on travel and dining, and 1x the points on everything else. I don’t pay foreign transaction fees, either. All of this for a $95 annual fee? I’ll take it!

I hope these companies help you as much as they’ve helped me. Bookmark this page and refer to it as you need resources like these. Until I see you again, happy traveling!

Hi, I’m Sarah

Welcome to my oasis! I am a writer and budding entrepreneur with a love for caffeine, capital gains, and seeing the world. If I’m not writing, you can find me reading a good book, trying out a new vegan recipe, or adding to my coffee mug collection. My goal in life? To see every country in the world. Come along for the ride!

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