My favorite travel sites and tools

There’s no doubt about it, the internet has revolutionized the way we travel. For some folks this is a negative as it can take the excitement and mystery out of visiting new places and discovering what’s there on your own. I personally find the good outweighs the bad because the resources we now have at our fingertips allow me to truly make the most out of travel by making sure we don’t miss as much as we used to. I tend to do A LOT of research before I travel to a new place. Here are some of my favorite websites, apps, podcasts, and social media about travel hacking, traveling, and travel with kids.

On travel hacking

These are some of the top websites I go to. You can follow all of them on facebook and they will give you updates when something interesting happens in the travel hacking/credit card world.

  • pointsaway.com When I first started trying to learn about travel hacking my head was swimming from so much information. There were definitely times that I felt that I could’t “get it.” I was able to download and read a free ebook by Casey Ayers (of pointsaway) and it really helped me figure out where and how to get started. I don’t think the book is available anymore (and it would probably be outdated anyway since the points and miles game changes lightning fast), but he does have a nice website that explains how to get started.
  • financebuzz I know the husband and wife team who run this site because I am pretty active on their Facebook group. They are really helpful, nice people and their “FBZ Elite” Facebook group is basically like my travel hacking family. Their website also offers a lot of great information for both the novice and experienced travel hacker.
  • thepointsguy This guy made it big in the travel hacking blogosphere, and he is a good one to follow. I linked to his explanation of how to use the Chase cards for maximum benefit, as that is one of the most important things to understand when beginning travel hacking.
  • mommypoints I just like her because she posts about travel hacking with kids.
  • millionmilesecrets This guy also has a nice beginner’s guide and an active facebook site.
  • flyertalk If you are brave enough to take a deep dive into the world of hard core travel hackers, you should check out the message boards at flyer talk. This is one of the oldest travel hacking forums and has thousands of users. It can be hard to understand because people use codes and shorthand frequently. Often when I have a travel hacking question I will google the question and add “flyer talk” so I can find the right message thread to read what the “experts” are saying.
  • theflightdeal These folks will post super cheap flight deals and “error fares” (when an airline accidentally posts a really cheap fare (sometimes they get cancelled after you buy them). I follow them on facebook so I can see the deals in my feed when they come up.
  • evreward When you are trying to rack up points and miles, a good way to do it is every time you buy something online, you don’t go directly to the store’s website, you go through a portal set up by an airline, hotel, or credit card company and they give you a certain amount of points x your purchase. So it might me for example 3 Delta miles per dollar spent at homedepot. The trouble is, each site offers different incentives and they change daily. So before I go to buy something online I go to evreward and type in the store or website I am planning to shop from. This will give me a list of which airlines, hotels, and credit cards are giving bonuses and how much, so I can use the one that will give me the most reward.

Traveling in general: websites and apps

Here is a screenshot of my “traveling” folder on my phone, with some of my favorite apps. I have the major airline apps so I can quickly view my miles balance, see upcoming trips, search for paid and award fares, and quickly get my scan-able boarding pass when traveling. I also have apps for the hotel chains that I am using right now and have status (Hilton and SPG).


Other apps

  • tripadvisor Review sites and apps are a travelers best friend. My favorite is tripadvisor.com. I use this for reading reviews on restaurants, hotels, activities, and places in general. I will also use yelp on occasion but tripadvisor is my favorite (Yelp is in my “food” folder on my phone).
  • loungebuddy If you’ve read my other posts you’ve heard me talk about how having certain credit cards gets you access to airport lounges. Loungebuddy is awesome because it will give you details about the lounges that are available in any airport, with pictures and reviews. It also knows which ones you have access to.
  • alltrails I love to hike so I use this to find hiking trails nearby (with reviews and maps). I’m not in love with the app to be honest but it’s the best I have found (let me know if you know of a better one!
  • hopper This is an app that will continue to search particular flights for you and let you know, based on historical data, when you should buy and when you should wait and see if the price drops. I always use this when buying non-award flights.

Other websites

Other, non-app websites that I find essential for traveling are:

ITA flight matrix This is what I use to search for airline routes and flights. It’s not flashy and I think google flights works the same but I have gotten used to using this. You can search routes for multiple airports at a time and see what the flights would cost for the various airlines, at different airports, and over a month at a time of dates.

Biddingfortravel.com My good friend (who doesn’t travel hack but definitely is an amazing deal-finder), introduced me to this about 15 years ago. It is a website that explains how to bid on hotels through priceline to get the best deal.

autoslash People frequently ask me where to get the best deals on car rentals. Usually your best bet is to go through BJs or Costco if you have a membership with them. Otherwise you should try autoslash. It finds the best car rental deal for you and will update you if something cheaper comes along.

Podcasts

I love listening to travel podcasts, especially when I have a bad case of the wanderlust. These are my favorite ones.

Amateur Traveler Chris Christensen is the bomb. He’s like the Rick Steves of the podcast world. Each week he interviews an expert on a particular location and they usually give you a sample 1 week itinerary and a ton of great tips. Before I travel to a place I always check his 500+ episode archive to see if he interviewed anyone on that place and then I listen and take notes (yes I am a nerd).

Family Adventure Podcast Another binge-worthy favorite. Eric Hemingway is the host. Several years ago he and his family (of 6 kids!) embarked on a 5 year sailing adventure all over the world (without any sailing experience!). They are back on land now and he does a weekly podcast interviewing families who travel, often full time.

 

 

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