Hello, dear reader! Here are tons of delicious ways for you to save money and time, and to increase liberty and awesomeness, both at home and during travel. If you enjoy this website or my other site, TeachingTraveling.com, please consider using the links on this page to do your searches and purchases, as a small percentage will help support this blog at no extra cost to you. Thanks, and happy liberty-izing!
Part 1: TRAVEL RESOURCES
TripAdvisor, for years, has been my go-to in order to research hotels, but did you know that you’re now able to BOOK accommodations through their site? Since they opened this feature, I’ve used it a number of times and have been pleased.
Booking.com is a great option for searching and — you guessed it — booking hotels.
Hotels.com is rightly well-known for offering excellent deals and an easy user interface.
HotelsCombined lets you compare almost all of the other hotel search engines to find the best price. I also enjoy their polar bear mascot. 🙂
Agoda is known as the best accommodation search engine for Asia, but works for the rest of the world, too.
Priceline gives huge saving by bidding with your own price, but also offers straightforward hotel deals.
Hilton Hotels have fans far and wide for their loyalty program and quality.
Jetsetter is the fancy cousin of TripAdvisor. Shiny!
BedandBreakfast.com makes me smile because I’m a BnB lover. Something about that home-cooked breakfast, which seems to unfailingly include the the world’s fluffiest muffins…
Accommodations (Home or Condo Rentals):
HomeAway lets you rent vacation homes or earn money by listing your own property. I’ve used it nearly every year to rent big beach houses for extended family getaways, and love it. The properties tend to be more consistently “upscale” and vacation style than AirBnB.
VRBO.com (Vacation Rentals By Owner) is another platform for renting vacation homes that I’ve used numerous times and love. Again, in addition to using these sites to find a place to stay, consider making extra money by renting out your own place while you’re away!
FlipKey was the home and condo renting service we used on a recent vacation, and had a splendid experience. I like the search filters you can use to narrow down your perfect (in our case, beachfront) accommodations. You can also pick up extra income by renting out part or all of your own place through FlipKey.
TripAdvisor Vacation Rentals is a revelation now that I have kids and realize how much more practical and economical it is to rent a whole condo or house (with a kitchen and multiple rooms) versus all squeezing into a tiny hotel room. We did this during our stay in Puerto Rico and saved a ton of money and stress… and we were two steps from a gorgeous beach! (In fact, I took many of the photos on this page during that Puerto Rico escapade.)
AirBnB lets you rent a room or whole house from someone else’s home, and is sometimes much more affordable and comfortable than a hotel room. Here’s the tip that most people don’t realize, however: Becoming an AirBnB host — even for just one busy weekend — can earn you a LOT of money to fund your own travels! We always rent our our place during the Boston Marathon because lodging is so in demand, and funded our entire Finger Lakes vacation from one guest! If you haven’t signed up yet as either a traveler or host, click here for the link to get a $25-$35 credit from me!
Vacation Home Rentals is an up-and-coming new service by TripAdvisor to find and book, er, the name says it all. Good call on purchasing that URL, TripAdvisor!
Accommodations (Super Low-Cost):
Homestay.com is a really unique accommodation option where you stay with a local in their home. It’s affordable and culturally connected, and I’m looking forward to trying it soon.
HomeExchange provides FREE accommodations (once you pay one flat registration and support fee) for as many home swaps around the world as you want!
Flight Search Tools:
CheapAir is an exciting new find offering price drop payback (YES!), flight price alerts, and easy phone support. I really like their interface and savings, and my brother recently got an excellent deal with them.
Kiwi.com is an exciting new flight search tool that travelers love.
FlightHub has good prices and filters to get the type of trip you most desire, and offers a free email alert for notifications of flight deals before they’re gone.
Priceline is famed for letting you name your own price. It sometimes freaks me out because you can’t always see or select specific trip details, but the prices are usually better than anywhere else, and you can guarantee important details like the time frame, and whether it’s a red-eye flight or not.
STA Travel changed my life when they helped me book a discount Around the World plane ticket the year I launched this blog! They offer unbelievable deals for students and (most people don’t know this) teachers, too, on flights, hotels, rail and bus transport, vacation packages, tours, insurance and more.
Sky-Tours is a unique, customer-friendly search tool for flight deals.
Expedia and Travelocity have flights, hotels, rental cars, vacations, so on, thus should be in ALL of the following sections, but I don’t want to be a redundant bunny, so just know you can use them for all of that.
Flight Management Resources:
Points.com allows you to manage all your airline and points loyalty programs in one tidy bundle.
Park ‘N Fly is a much-needed service for airport drop-off and pick-up in your own car.
ParkSleepFly has super convenient airport parking, hotel, and shuttle bundles.
Vacations Packages and Cruises:
Travelocity Cruises have some mind-blowing deals, and make travel mighty easy.
Travelocity Vacation Packages tie everything in an affordable, convenient bow.
LivingSocial and Groupon have slews of rotating travel deals, from vacation packages, to hotels, to flights. Sometimes I just like to browse the beach photos and let my imagination wander. They also have at-home life deals, too.
Insight Vacations: This luxury tour and vacation service looks delightful!
Group Tours to See the World:
Intrepid Travel: Group travel is a splendid way to see a new place affordably and fun-ly. Intrepid is run by really nice folks, and offers a wide range of budget and style options. If you’re stumped for what to do during your next vacation, I’d recommend trying one of their short tours.
G Adventures is another excellent tour company with group travel options for all budgets and destinations. Plus, its founder has as his Twitter icon a picture of Beaker the Muppet!
Contiki tours are super fun and economical ways to traverse the globe.
Tourradar lets you easily book tours by comparing companies.
Tours4Fun has an easy to use interface for comparing and booking travel tours from one day to several weeks long.
Gozengo offers yummy vacation packages by personal trip planners.
Big Bus Tours offer hop-on-and-off sightseeing via bus in many exciting cities.
Trusted Tours and Attractions packages easy sightseeing in major U.S. cities.
The New York Pass provides huge discounts for NYC sightseeing.
Go City Card lets you into all the best attractions in major cities for one discounted price.
Rental Car Deals:
RentalCars.com has, you know… rental cars.
Hertz is a standard for car rentals during travel.
Priceline Rental Cars lets you bid on your own car price, and there are quality deals to be had.
Auto Europe Car Rentals is not just for rentals in Europe!
Fox Rent A Car has a name that makes me chuckle.
Zipcar (click to get $25 off!) has affordable, convenient short-term car rentals, whether you’re at home or traveling. I love the term “Zip Trip” for a mini-vacation using these vehicles.
Allianz Travel Insurance or Travelex Travel Insurance are smart to look into for big trips, or situations you are nervous about. I know quite a few people who have worked with them and had a good experience.
Europe Train Travel Packages:
Learn to Teach English Abroad to Make Money for Travel:
LoveTEFL allows you to get certified in teaching English as a foreign language through an online course, and having that skill can fund your travels!
People frequently ask me what camera, or shoes, or bag I use, so here is the specific list of my most beloved and useful travel product recommendations. The nice thing about these Amazon links is that once you click through, you can choose to purchase another brand or even totally different item, and a commission will still support this site. Thank you kindly!
TECHNOLOGY: The camera I currently use is this Sony mirrorless camera which is an ideal combination of compact, affordable, and high quality. If you want a more inexpensive and bite-sized option, I’d highly recommend this tiny point-and-shoot camera I used to use. That said, phone cameras are getting better and better, so you might just want to invest in a good smartphone and practice smart photography tricks like holding your hand steady when you take a photo. For a computer, I swear by my Macbook Air. It is skinny and durable, and has lasted since 2011!
LUGGAGE: After graduating from my solo backpacker days to the world of professional luggage, I fell in love with this suitcase, which has now lasted since 2009, over countless miles. To hold my valuables every day at home and on the road, I use this travel purse which is sweet and small, and has a mighty cross-body strap to resist snatchers.
APPAREL: Even if it wasn’t my college friend who stared this travel dress company, I would still stuff my suitcase with Leota’s cute but durable frocks. For footwear, I am ALL about comfort shoes, and spend every day on the road or home in these supportive but cute shoes or these brilliant sandals. If you want to explore other supportive footwear, The Walking Company specializes in that scene. When I was seeking comfortable shoes for my wedding, they were one of the only stores to carry formal shoes that I could dance happily in!
Gear for Travel With Kids:
Part 2: LIFE RESOURCES FOR MORE LIBERTY:
Time and Sanity-Saving Services:
Peapod Grocery Delivery service is something I never thought I’d need… until I had to take my two year old to the supermarket because my husband was in a meeting, and the little guy hurled a tub of yogurt off the shelf to splat onto the floor. If you’re looking for a great gift for new parents, this may be it!
Care.com helps you find and vet babysitters for everything from short-term and long-term jobs. It took us forever to trust someone with our little sweeties, but having background checks, references, and full profiles really helps.
Amazon Prime: It is almost embarrassing how much we rely on Prime as new parents, from getting our first baby’s giant crib delivered through it (the free 2 day shipping Prime is famous for even applied to that crib!), to binge-watching all of the free TV and movies available on there on nights our second baby wouldn’t sleep. Click here to get a 30 day free trial of Prime.
Amazon Family is an automatic subscription service for diapers, paper towels, and other (often bulky) things a family (or single person, for that matter!) needs, but may not have time to get every month. The prices are the best we’ve found on all the diapers our kids blaze through, and the convenience of having the boxes delivered to our door has been priceless. I HIGHLY recommend this service either for yourself, or as a present for someone you know who’s feeling stressed in balancing all of life’s chores. Get a 30-day free trial — including 20% off diapers! by clicking here.
Amazon Wedding Registry and Baby Registry make me grin, because everyone at your wedding thinks you need a thousand utensil sets, and everyone at your baby shower thinks you need a million tiny onesies, but with this registry you have 90 days to return those “perfect” gifts and buy yourself a luxe massage chair instead. 🙂 Just saying.
Angie’s List has been instrumental for us in reading honest customer reviews to select recommended contractors and other services.
Happiness-Inducing Products and Sites:
Sonos is the company we use for our beloved speaker system, both for our TV and music in the dining room. They’re operated via your smartphone and thus (in addition to sounding fantastic) make you look very futuristic.
Mixbook is a photo book and photo printing service that’s all the rage among my parent community.
CanvasWorld lets you take your snazzy travel and life photos and turn them into fancy wall art!
Audible audio books that I download to my phone and play while doing another activity at the same time are the only reason I’m still able to read while holding down two jobs and raising two kids. I’m even part of a book club in my neighborhood because of Audible’s help! Click here for a free 30 day trial.
Walgreens has beautiful discounts on drug store basics.
Seat Geek gets you the best tickets for events like concerts and sports games at low prices.
Curriculum Help for Teachers (Like Me!):
Blogging and Social Media:
InMotion Hosting is, in my several-years experience, the BEST web hosting company if you’re launching a blog that you want to take to the next level. They have 24-7 customer support, and haven’t crashed my website like the previous host I was with!
BlueHost is a popular and solid webhost that is extremely affordable.
WP Site Care is my tech guru team, and I would recommend them to anyone with a WordPress site who wants ridiculously awesome support. What do I mean by this? I email them at 3am on a Saturday and they email back with a brilliant fix to my problem in two minutes. Whaaaaa?!
HootSuite is what all the cool kids (and cool owls, apparently) use to manage their social media accounts and stay on top of topics and connections of interest and importance. For example, a woman I know who works for a local tourism board gets an alert any time someone tweets that they’re going to visit that city, and that way the tourism gal can reach out to the tweeter with a welcoming message.
Sucuri is THE go-to for web security. They saved me from a really nasty and sneaky hacking attack, and have kept my site protected ever since. I recommend them with a passion if you’re serious about your website.
Vistaprint is the place to go for affordable, quality business cards and other marketing goodies.
Pant, pant, pant… That’s a lot of recommended stuff! What questions or comments do you have? Which of these services and products have you tried, and what was your experience? Do share, and do please consider supporting this site (at no extra cost to you!) by using these links for your shopping excitement. For those who have asked for how to donate a small tip directly, here is my PayPal page. Thank you, liberty-loving readers!