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Travel Resources to Plan Your Trip

Trying to plan a vacation can be tough. It can feel complicated and frustrating. But it doesn’t have to be that way. Here is an up-to-date list of travel resources I recommend to help you plan your dream vacation.

Travel Resources to Plan Your Trip

Please note that some posts contain links that earn me a small commission at no extra cost to you.

Luggage we recommend

Here’s a look at luggage we own (and yes, we have a lot of backpacks!) that we recommend for traveling. And don’t forget to check out my roundup of the best packing cubes for travel.

REI Trail 40 backpack – I love this backpack because it’s comfortable, it has good pockets for smaller items, and it fits within most airlines’ carry-on limits. They also have a men’s version.

Read: Best Carry-On Luggage and Best Suitcases for Carry On Travel Recommended by Frequent Travelers

travel resources - REI Trail 40

Osprey Farpoint 40: Andy has the Osprey Farpoint 40L backpack, and he really likes it. It has great pockets and holds everything he needs really well. The hip belt is well designed, making it comfortable to wear. And even though it’s carry-on size in most cases, the backpack straps can be hidden away if you do need to check it into a flight.

The men’s version is the Farpoint, but they also make a women’s version called the Fairview.

Osprey Momentum 22L daypack – This is my husband Andy’s daypack. He loves it because it has a separate laptop pocket, which makes it easy to take his laptop out when necessary. It also has a rain cover, which is super important when the laptop is in there. Osprey makes great bags, so it was an easy decision when he needed a new daypack.

Osprey Escapist 25L daypack – Andy likes his daypack so much that when I needed to replace my old daypack, I knew I wanted to get an Osprey. I didn’t want a laptop sleeve like his, but I still wanted a rain cover, plus this one has plenty of pockets, which I love. I’ve taken it on several trips and so far, I think it’s a great bag.

REI stuff bag – This makes a great daypack because it folds up into itself, so it takes up almost no room in our luggage. I’ll pack it in my backpack so I have something to use for day trips but I don’t want an extra bag to lug around with me all the time. Read: What to Pack for a Day Trip

travel resources - REI stuff bag
This is the old version of REI’s stuff bag. The new one looks even better!

What’s in my bag?

Here are a few items I almost always travel with. Read: What to Pack for a Trip: Travel Packing Checklist for Carry-On Only

Canon DSLR – It depends on the trip, but sometimes it just makes more sense to bring my DSLR. If I’m going on a safari or someplace where I know the weather could be less than bright and sunny or if I will be taking pictures from a distance, this comes with me. But it takes up a lot of space and can get heavy, so sometimes I just stick with my iPhone.

Kindle – I read a lot when I travel, especially if there are long flights involved. Having a Kindle means traveling with an entire library of books but without the heavy load. Check out some of my favorite travel books here.

Solid shampoo and solid conditioner: I am a total solids convert. I’ve tested several different brands of solid shampoo and conditioner, and I love these particular ones from Ethique so much that I now use them all the time, even when I’m at home. They really help reduce the liquids I have to pack, and they make my hair feel so nice! I’ve linked the ones for oily hair, but make sure you look for the one that fits your hair type. Read: Best Solid Toiletries for Carry-On Travel

packing light with liquids - solid toiletries to reduce liquids
Solid toiletries are a great way to reduce the hassle of the liquids rule

Solid sunscreen and solid bug repellent – Since I always travel carry-on only, I love finding ways to reduce the liquids I have to pack. These work just as well as their liquid counterparts. Read: How to Pack Light With Liquids

Solid perfume – Ladies, you like to smell pretty, right? Well, instead of sacrificing your perfume because it doesn’t fit in your liquids bag, try solid perfume sticks. They’re small, won’t leak in your bag, and I think they smell great. I always travel with at least one.

travel resources - non-liquid options

Jeans and a sweatshirt – No matter the trip, I find there’s always a situation where I want to wear jeans. And even in warm destinations, transportation seems to be blasting with cold air conditioning, so a sweatshirt or light jacket helps. Read: What to Pack For Trip: Travel Packing Checklist for Carry-On Only

Sarong – Sarongs are great to use instead of a beach towel or a cover-up or a light blanket because they’re thin and pack up small. In a pinch, you can even ball it up to use as a pillow.

Exofficio underwear – I always pack one or two pairs of Exofficio quick-dry underwear in case I need to wash a pair in the sink. I don’t wash clothes in the sink often, but it works in a pinch, and it’s better to have something that dries quickly. Plus they’re comfortable. Check them out on Amazon. Read: Clothing Packing Tips for Carry-On Only

travel resources - what's in my bag


I believe that tours can be a great way to travel. Day tours can show you places you can’t get to on your own, and food tours can introduce you to the cuisine of the city you’re visiting. If you’re traveling solo and want to meet other travelers, or you’re new to travel and want someone else to take the reigns, a longer organized tour could be for you. And sometimes tours are a great way to experience something you couldn’t recreate on your own.

Viator – Just about any tour, transfer, or city pass you could imagine for almost any destination is listed on this site. If you’re looking for an activity, this is the place to go. They have mostly day tours, but there are lots of overnight and multi-day tours available as well.

travel resources - Prague beer tour with Viator

Take Walks – One of my favorite tour companies, Take Walks offers fantastic and interesting tours of the big sights, plus some great food tours. Mostly in Europe but also a few in the USA. I took several of their tours in Italy (like this one at the Colosseum and this one at the Sistine Chapel) and I highly recommend them. Read: Best Colosseum Tour: Underground Colosseum & Roman Forum Tour Review and Why You Should Take an Early Entry Sistine Chapel and Vatican Tour

Devour Food Tours – This is a wonderful food tour company in Europe with locations in several major cities. I’ve taken their tours in Lisbon, Madrid, and Seville, but they have lots of other locations too.

G Adventures – Small group travel for all ages and all over the world. Their tours are listed with 1 of 7 specific travel styles to suit your needs. This helps you know if the tour is family friendly or suited for the roughing it type. Travel with an emphasis on sustainability. Read: Greek Islands Sailing Tour Review

travel resources - Greek Islands sailing tour with G Adventures


Where you stay can greatly affect your vacation. Decide how important comfort is to you. Some people are willing to spend a little more for a more comfortable hotel, while others are willing to sacrifice a little comfort if it saves them money. Know what’s important to you when looking for accommodations.

Booking – A simple hotel booking site with great filters and sorting options. They also have great customer service. This is the site I use most often.

HostelWorld and HostelBookers – Hostels, guesthouses, and occasionally hotels. Read: What is it Really Like to Stay in a Hostel?

Flights and Airport Info

Searching for flights is tedious, and nearly impossible to figure out how to find the good deals. There are theories about the best day to book a flight or the best day to fly, but sometimes it just comes down to luck and trial and error.

Priority Pass airport lounges – Airport lounges can be a great place to relax and get refreshed during a layover. Many Priority Pass lounges offer shower facilities, food and more, no matter what airline you’re flying with. Get 10% off your membership for the first year by clicking the link above.

Dollar Flight Club – A flight deal alert subscription service that emails you amazing deals on flights based on the airports you’ve told them you’re interested in. Averages savings are $500+ for a roundtrip flight! The premium membership is just $40 a year and has a 7 day free trial. Read: How to Save $500+ on Your Next International Flight

Sky Team, Star Alliance, One World – If you collect miles, check these sites to see which airlines are partnered with the one you are a frequent flier with.

Seat Guru – Shows you the best and worst seats on the flight you’re booking so you know what seat to choose.

Sleeping in Airports – If you ever get stuck with an overnight layover, this is a great guide to how and where to sleep in just about any airport in the world.

Welcome Pickups – Get a hassle-free private transfer to and from the airport in cities around the world. Depending on the length of your trip, it could be a lot cheaper than parking at the airport. And if you’re traveling somewhere new and nervous about public transportation, this is a great option that I’ve used before.

Airport Parking Reservations – Save on airport parking by booking ahead.

To and From the Airport – Information about transportation to and from the airport. The site is ugly but I usually find the info to be accurate.

Trains, Buses and More

I live in Europe (Berlin to be exact) so I travel by train quite often. They’re less stressful than flying, and they usually offer a better view out the window. Sometimes it’s cheaper to take a bus, and in some parts of Europe, there might not be good train options.

Deutsche Bahn – This is the German rail company. Even if you’re not traveling within Germany, the DB site is a great place to find schedules and figure out how long it takes to get from A to B. I usually start here even if I can’t book the ticket through DB.

FlixBus – Great budget travel option for buses around Europe, and they even have a train option now in some places. The buses are comfortable, and it’s always good to compare FlixBus with standard train options since it could save you money.

Omio – Each country in Europe has its own railway website, which can make it frustrating to book trains in multiple countries. Omio is a great place to look for trains across borders, as well as bus or flight alternatives.

Seat61 – The best information on train travel and routes around the world.


Taking a cruise can be an interesting way to travel since it allows you to see several places on one trip and you don’t have to pack up and change hotels every couple of days. Some deserve more time than you’ll get on a cruise, but it could inspire you to go back on your next trip. And some places, like the polar or Nordic regions, are incredible to experience on a cruise.

Cruise Direct – Great site for finding cruises. Everything from traditional ocean cruises to river cruises, with last minute deals. Read: Italy, Greece and Montenegro Cruise Review and European River Cruise Tour Review

Vacations To Go – Flexible search options for finding cruises, including a 90 day ticker for finding discounts on cruises departing within 90 days.

Planning a trip? Use the travel resources I love to start planning your vacation today. From flights to lodging, tours to luggage, it's travel made simple. #traveltips #budgettravel #travelplanning #vacation
vacation planning travel resources

Ali Garland author box detailsAli Garland is a travel packing expert who loves to explore the world. She has 20 years of experience traveling with only carry on bags. On Travel Made Simple, she shares her best tips for packing less, dealing with layovers, and more tips that will help you have the best vacation. Originally from the US, she now lives in Berlin with her husband and their Yorkie. Read more about Ali here.

Ali Garland author box details
Ali Garland is a travel packing expert who loves to explore the world. She has 20 years of experience traveling with only carry on bags. On Travel Made Simple, she shares her best tips for packing less, dealing with layovers, and more tips that will help you have the best vacation. Originally from the US, she now lives in Berlin with her husband and their Yorkie. Read more about Ali here.