I have wanted to write this list for a long time, a very long time. Things I use on my travels and do not want to miss anymore. Apps that make it easier to plan your trip and make pictures look even better. Be it to book flights as cheaply as possible or simply to sleep in hostels or planes.
There it goes: I present to you my very long list, with the most helpful of all the best travel tips and travel resources that we use to travel better and longer:
Discovering new destinations
Pinterest – even though it took me quite a while to figure out how to use Pinterest, I love it now all the more! Whether for travel inspiration or travel planning – now I start my travel planning on Pinterest.
Kayak.com – I have searched and booked my flights over Kayak for years. In addition to the classic search options such as return and one-way flights, there is also the search option for multi-stop flights. In addition, you can search flights around a specific date (up to +/- 3 days). For those who do not know where to go, but definitely want to do something, there's the fun feature Explore. With Explore you can play around with your departure airport, time of travel, how long you want to travel and costs. Pretty neat, right?!
Urlaubspiraten – Error fares, last minute tickets or just damn good deals. But you have to be fast. I have seen so many incredible offers on holiday pirates. Recently, I saw flights to Hawaii from Amsterdam for 350 € – madness, right ?!
AirBnB – Rent beds, couches, rooms, or apartments on this platform. When I'm with friends or my boyfriend, I really like this platform. Often apartments on Airbnb are much cheaper than hotels. If you log in using this link, there is even a discount for you!
Hostelworld – my favourite platform to secure a bed in a hostel room. The reviews are honest and help me (mostly) find the right hostel. Also, the directions are almost always very good and easy.
Hotels.com – if I do stay hotel, I always check Hotels.com first. I especially like the rewards program – after 10 booked nights, the 11th night is free. The value of the 11th night is the average of the last 10 nights. This amount can then be redeemed in the next booking. On my trip to Galapagos, I saved more than 150 €!
Booking.com – most of the time I look at both hotels.com and booking.com to compare the rates. Sometimes booking.com really has great deals and perks.
Rome2Rio – this website (and app) is simply awesome. It is easy to enter location A and location B and you will see different routes by bus, train, airplane, car and taxi. How often has a guide left me in the lurch and I did not know how to get to my next planned goal, boom – with Rome2Rio sorted!
uber – safer than taxis, and usually also cheaper. Simply order a ride on your mobile phone and get in the car. Especially in countries where normal taxis are not really trustworthy, I really like using this app. Attention: in some countries is either not allowed or even illegal.
Visa credit card travel insurance (for trips up to 90 days) – many Austrian credit cards have travel insurance automatically included – most of the student cards also have it. This insurance is super practical since you do not have to take out any additional travel insurance. The insurance that is included in my credit card includes travel luggage, travel accident, travel liability, flight delay, travel cancellation, and other things. The most important thing for me is the worldwide flight ambulance and 100% coverage of the medical costs abroad. TAA – Tyrol Air Ambulance takes care of this. 24/7 reachable, super friendly and helpful – and encouraging words are also available. I had to have an emergency operation in Mexico City in 2015 because my appendix almost ruptured. TAA did not only contact the hospital directly and confirmed the cost transfer (= I only had to pay a deposit of about 200 € on my credit card and the rest was paid directly by TAA), then my return transport was organized in Business Class.
Wiener Städtische – (for longer trips) – I can recommend this insurance to anyone who is on the road for more than 90 days. There is also a cheaper option for students who travel either in the summer, do an internship abroad, or take an overseas semester. This insurance company of the Wiener Städtische is also working with the TAA – so call them in case of an emergency and they take care of you.
Google Drive + Google Sheets – I always create one separate folder for each trip, where I save all important documents such as flight tickets and reservations and I have also set up a template, where I enter my expenses so I do not lose track of how much I am spending.
Amazon Prime library – everyone that owns Amazon Prime and a Kindle, can save quite a bit of money on books. Amazon also offers a library where you can rent books for free.
Kindle App – I use the app if I have to wait somewhere and haven't packed my Kindle.
BookBub – for all bookworms who do not want to spend too much money on books. This website post offers on ebooks, which are often very limited in time, but either highly discounted or even free! Yay!
Amazon Music App – Amazon Prime users can also use this app. I especially like that I can store the music on the mobile phone and thus always have music on hand even if I am offline.
Audible – an app for audiobooks. For 9.95 € / month, you can download and listen to an audiobook. Perfect for long bus or train rides and air travel.
Pinterest – my inspiration source for destinations. In addition, you will find so many new and exciting blogs.
Maps.me – by far the best offline map app. Simply download the desired map for free and then you're ready to go. Save your own points of interest and find your way to restaurants, hotels and attractions.
Google Maps – I use Google Maps mainly to find my points of interest. And, of course, create your own Google Maps and it on the blog.
Snapseed – my favourite app to edit photos. Simple, fast, intuitive and powerfully versatile.
Olympus App – to upload my photos from my Olympus camera to my phone.
Voice memo – I use it to either to record myself or to collect important information on a guided tour (if you do not take notes or can't write so quickly). I use this app more often when I am on the road to collect details for my blog posts.
Scanner App – Just photograph your documents and save them in PDF format. Really handy when you need an official document while on the road.
Skype – I use Skype to make international phone calls from home or to call home when I am abroad. Roaming charges are outrageous and Skype calls only cost a few cents. Just buy some credit and start making phone calls.
Backpacks that we love
Osprey Porter 46 – large enough to accommodate a lot, small enough to pass as hand luggage. I travelled to China for two weeks with this backpack and had plenty of space left for souvenirs and knick-knack. The protected laptop compartment and the possibility to lock it makes this backpack my absolute favourite on shorter trips.
Black Diamond Nitro 26 – I took this daypack not only on my around the world trip but on a lot of shorter weekend trips too. It is crazy how fits in this little backpack and how comfortable it is. With hip belt and back system and outer pockets – just perfect. I would definitely buy this backpack again.
Deuter Quantum 70+10 – this backpack has been my companion since 2013 and it has always done me good service on longer journeys. There is a new version with a new design, but the features are the same. Can be opened from the front, back system, waist belt, transport sleeve and a small daypack to strap on is also included.
Minaal 2.0 and Daily – for people who prefer a simpler design. I can recommend this hand luggage backpack from Minaal. The 2.0 offers plenty of space and is also perfect for long journeys if one is a minimalist packer. The Daily is my faithful companion in everyday life when I go to university or take a day trip.
Cameras and accessories that we love
Olympus OM-D E-M5 ii – my great love. After I discovered my love for photography a few years ago with a simpler Olympus model, I upgraded to this more professional version of Olympus last year. Reasons why I simply love this camera: it is light, does not look too fancy thanks to the retro-look (so it is somewhat safer against theft), simply makes great pictures and can be used completely manually. In addition, there are filter presets for easy use.
Lens 12-40mm – standard lens for the E-M5ii. This lens is usually available in combination with the camera. I use it most of the time, even to take pictures of stars or shoot videos.
Tele 75-300mm – ideal for animal observations, eg in the Amazon, on safari or in Patagonia.
Fisheye-lens – actually this lens was meant for fun recordings, now I appreciate this small lens particularly with indoor recording.
Replacement batteries Olympus – since the original replacement batteries for the Olympus (and most other cameras) are just really expensive and the imitation are not much worse, you can save some money here.
Pacsafe camera bag – this shoulder bag by Pacsafe is not only an anti-theft bag with padded straps but simply great in combination with my Olympus. My camera and all lenses fit easily into it. It is also waterproof.
Olympus TG-5 – an underwater camera that I've become loving dearly. Easy to handle with automatic mode as well as manual modes. There's also an underwater mode so you don't need an additional red filter.
Underwater housing for TG-5 – since the camera itself is waterproof for up to 15m, with this housing you can take it down to 40m.
GoPro Hero 7 Black – whether it's diving, zip-lining or rafting, with my GoPro, I've gotten through some extreme situations. It is completely waterproof up to 40m.
Spare batteries GoPro Hero 7 – I have about five extra batteries for my GoPro, which I use regularly. Especially useful if you go diving for several days and forget to recharge the batteries in the evening.
GoPro bag + accessories – Case to carry the GoPro including accessories safely. There is ample space for the camera, extra batteries, memory cards and red filters for diving.
Osmo Mobile – Stabilizer for mobile phones to get smooth videos or great panorama shots. Works a treat, unfortunately, I use it much too rarely.
Case für Osmo Mobile – to keep the stabilizer safe.
Stuff that we love
Powerbank – for those who spend a lot of time on mobile phones, or are in secluded parts without power. Super practical and helpful. This power bank has served me for several years.
Travel Adapter – I use two different models because every now and then the sockets are stupidly fitted, making it impossible to use them properly. Two USB cables can be used with type A and type B is a little sturdier.
Lock for backpacks/lockers – two handy locks to lock your backpack or locker in the hostel.
Kindle – Never ending supply of books without having to carry actual books around. You also do not need a reading light for the Kindle and can read without interruption until late in the night.
Lush shampoo bars – in addition to the normal body soaps from Lush, I also love the shampoo bars. Lush sells handy metal tins to carry them in and is no risk of them leaking in your bag. Additionally, I find that my hair looks healthier when I use Lush shampoo bars rather than normal shampoo.
Foldable water bottle – fill it, drink, fold it up after use and save space. This water bottle made of silicone can be rolled up small and then takes up almost no space in your bag. By the way, it is also a great toy to destress.
LifeStraw – a powerful water filter that removes up to 99.9% of bacteria and parasites from the water. This means that you can drink water directly from rivers and lakes – and also tap water, which is classified as non-potable. I have used the LifeStraw in the Amazon and I have done so without problems.
Ocean-friendly sunscreen from Stream2Sea – Most sun creams use ingredients that are harmful both to us humans as well as to the sea. Stream2Sea only uses ingredients that are good for the environment and us. And the products last forever.
Ostrich Pillow light – this cushion is just a hit. Cozy and soft, it is worn like a sleeping mask. Also, it is really dark with the upholstery and especially in dormitories or on planes I've often been more than just grateful for it.
Packing Cubes – without these, I wouldn't be able to find anything in the depth of my backpack, but packing cubes help me pack faster and keep the mess in my backpack to a Minimum. I have had my packing cubes by eagle creek for a very long time – there wasn't as much choice available when I got mine (like this 6-piece set for 13€). But even IKEA sells packing cubes in sets, which should last you a long time.
Flipflops/sandals by Crocs – these comfortable sandals, fortunately, do not look as if they were made by Crocs, otherwise, I would have never bought them. I am on my second pair now and am still extremely satisfied because they are light and easy to pack and also great for those dirty hostel and shower floors. I have those in black.
Red filter for GoPro – for the divers and snorkelers among you. Your pictures will be improved by a simple trick called red filter.
Portable SSD – better safe than terribly sorry.
Red Tiger Balm – helps with bruises, colds, sniffles, headaches, … a true miracle! I always carry on in my toiletry bag.
Waterproof UNO cards – whether it's at the pool, in the sand or in the wet Amazon – with these water-resistant UNO cards, there's no more boredom (unless you're on your own)
Blogs we love
Borders of Adventure – Becki is an award-winning travel writer and blogger who has a strong focus on misunderstood places, post-conflict destinations and responsible tourism practice. She writes about journeys to change your perception about the places you visit.
Austrian Adaptation – Australian Carly has found her true love in Austria and simply stayed here. She lives in Vienna and blogs about the capital and the challenges and beautiful sides of her expat life.
The Blog abroad – Gloria is the most cheerful person and blogger I know. Kind, honest and with so much humour that it is sometimes hard to grasp. The US-American moved to Spain a few years ago and hasn't had a real address sine. She calls herself a fashionable homeless;)
The Financial Diet – many helpful tips to organise your finances – how to save money, what to do with it and much more.
Watch me see – Austria born Kathi currently lives and works on her PhD in Glasgow – additionally she runs her own blog and writes about Scotland or blogs on travelettes.
My fingertips are sore from all the typing but this is it. My list of things that I absolutely must have while travelling. Am I missing something? What are your must-haves?
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