Our Favorite Money-Saving Travel Resources

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Favorite Money-saving Travel Resources and Tips

We keep getting asked by people back home and other travelers on the road how we afford to travel for so long. One big reason we’re able to travel is because we each saved over $22,000 in one year teaching English in South Korea. But that money could be gone by now if we didn’t have the resources and tools to sustain long-term travel. 

We’ve complied a list of the things we use everyday that allow us to keep going. From credit cards to travel insurance to apps for your iPhone, we have all the tips you need. Whether you’re planning a long term trip or just a weekend getaway, these items can save you hundreds of dollars. 

To know more about what’s in our packs, read our check out our Shop Page.

*Disclaimer: There are some affiliate links on this page, which means when you click we might get a small percentage of the purchase, at no extra cost to you! This allows us to keep sharing great travel tips, so feel free to click away!

Travel Credit/Debit Cards

Charles Schwab Debit Card Travel Resources

Charles Schwab Debit Card

Never pay an ATM fee again. That’s right, NO ATM fees anywhere in the world! The Charles Schwab High Yield Investors Checking Account debit card is a must for any serious traveler because it’s free to set up, there are no annual fees, and they reimburse any and ALL ATM fees at the end of each month. Whenever we enter a new country, we take out the local currency at an ATM. We’ve found this to be more convenient than currency exchangers, and more convenient than bringing currency from home. Some months we’ve been reimbursed as much as $50, and to date this card has seriously saved us hundreds of dollars. Tip: Be sure to take a picture of each ATM receipt so you have a record of the amount that your should be reimbursed.

Capital One Venture Card Travel Resources

Capital One Venture Credit Card

Not only do you get 40,000 bonus miles (equal to $400) after you spend $3,000 with the Capital One Venture Credit Card within the first 3 months, but you get 2% cash back on every purchase as well. With your points, you can literally erase your trip costs on your account. There are no foreign transaction fees so we use the card everywhere. It’s the easiest and fastest way to get kickbacks for your travel expenses.

Chase Sapphire Preferred Card

Chase Sapphire Preferred Credit Card

Like the Capital One Venture Card, the Chase Sapphire Preferred Credit Card is great for international travel (no foreign transaction fees) but has an even bigger bonus. You’ll receive 50,000 bonus points (equal to $500) after you spend $4,000 in the first 3 months. With the Chase Sapphire Preferred card you get 2 points for every dollar spent on travel and dining, and 1 point on everything else. When you redeem your points you get 25% extra when you use them for travel, which means that sign on bonus is worth $625!

Phone and Data Plan

T-Mobile

T-Mobile

People always ask us what we do for cell service while abroad and there are a few options. When we’re in one country for a long period of time, it’s possible to get a SIM card in that country. It can require a little leg work and one of our phones doesn’t take foreign SIMs, but this is usually the cheapest option.

Another option is to get service before you go! If you’re on a short vacation or hopping for a few different countries, the plan we’ve found to be the best deal is through T-Mobile.

We’ve always thought the US is a bit behind the rest of the world when it comes to international coverage, but you’ll be surprised to hear what T-Mobile has to offer.

T-Mobile changing the game for international data coverage. Not only are they America’s Fastest Growing LTE Network, but the T-Mobile One plan also has 5GB of data at 4G speeds in Canada and Mexico. The same plan also has unlimited texting and data in over 140 countries at 2G speeds, but can double the speeds for just an additional $10 per month. Shop T-Mobile Plans here!

Helpful Travel Booking Sites

Agoda Hotel Booking Travel Resources

Agoda 

Our favorite hotel search engine for Asia is without a doubt Agoda. They feature the best hotels at super affordable prices (sometimes up to 70% off the typical rate). Plus, they have a great breakdown for customer reviews, so you can see exactly what others before you think.  

Hostelworld
HostelWorld Whenever we are up for a party or meeting other travelers, we search on Hostelworld for the most fun hostels anywhere in the world. Bonus: Most hostels have private rooms in addition to dorms, so you can get a social atmosphere AND privacy.
AirBnB Travel Resources

AirBnB

If your looking for a homey experience or you want to split a place with a bunch of friends, AirBnB is where you should be looking. In some places around the world, you can rent an entire apartment for cheaper than a hotel room. 

We have loads of info on how to book Airbnbs, red flags to watch out for when booking, and our favorite Airbnbs in our Airbnb article

Skyscanner Flights Travel Resources

Skyscanner

Our favorite way to search for cheap deals on airlines is with Skyscanner. There are no hidden fees and it lays out all your options in the best way possible.

Rail Europe Logo

Rail Europe

Want to travel Europe but not break the bank? To get the cheapest Eurail pass, book through Rail Europe. It’s the simpliest and easiest way to get your passes online. You can even buy single country passes if your not planning a huge Euro trip. All aboard!

Kayak Flights Travel Resources

Kayak

Kayak is a great resource to search many airline search engines all at once. Sign up to get price alerts for specific flights so you know you are getting the best deal.

Lonely Planet Guide Travel Resources

Lonely Planet

This is our go-to online resource for travel information. Lonely Planet has the most detailed descriptions and must see spots everywhere in the world. But our favorite feature is their “Thorn-tree” forums, which we find to be the most helpful anywhere in the web. Whenever we can’t find information on a subject, we’ll ask our question the forum and within hours, travel experts will shed light on our queries. 

Hola VPN Travel Resource

Hola (VPN) 

Don’t you hate it when you can’t get to your favorite sites because of VPN issues? (For the non-techie person, this means that you are blocked from certain websites because of the country from which you are searching.) Say “Hello” to Hola and never get blocked again! It’s easy and free to download and now you can go ahead and watch your Netflix and listen to Pandora without any issues.

Travel Insurance

World Nomads Travel Insurance

World Nomads

Don’t you dare travel without insurance! (Here’s whyWorld Nomads is a crowd favorite travel insurance company and is recommended by Lonely Planet. We picked up an extra policy from them to cover us when we went trekking to Everest Base Camp.

Allianz Global Assistance Travel Resources

Allianz Global Assistance

We’ve used Allianz Global Assistance for years and have been very satisfied with our coverage. We currently have a year-long travel insurance policy for the two of us for only $79. 

Travel Apps

Trail Wallet App Travel Resources

Trail Wallet

Made by travelers, for travelers. We use Trail Wallet everyday to track EVERY single purchase we make. It has allowed us to keep our budgets low and our travels long. Any long term traveler who wants to stay on a budget needs this app! (only available for iPhones)

Convert App Travel Resources and Tools

Convert App

We’re getting better at doing the math in our heads to convert kilometers to miles and Celsius to Fahrenheit, but for everything else, this app is extra handy. It has all world currency exchange rates, so you can figure out if 3,000 Thai baht is actually expensive or not…

Google Maps Travel Resources

Google Maps

Before going to any new city, we load the area in the Google Maps app on our phone. Once we arrive (even if we are out of Wi-Fi and cell service), we can see all the streets and landmarks in the map. It even shows our GPS location, which as been a lifesaver. (Just make sure you enable the GPS feature on your smartphone.)

Google Translate Travel Resources

Google Translate

This app is super useful for deciphering confusing menus in a foreign language or buying medications. Our favorite feature is that you can take a picture of text that is difficult to type (like Korean or Japanese), and Google Translate will convert the words to the language you specify. How amazing is technology?!

Travel Gear

ENO Hammock Double Nest

ENO Hammock

Lightweight and portable, we use our ENO Hammock whenever we go camping or on shorter travel trips. It also makes a great gift for your favorite lover of the outdoors! We got ours as a wedding present, and it’s seriously one of the best gifts we ever received. 

Steripen Classic

Steripen

Proud users for over two years and not only has the Steripen kept us from getting sick, it has save us hundreds of dollars on buying bottled water. Mother Nature is pretty happy about all the plastic waste we’ve avoided too.

Eagle Creek Packing Cubes

Packing Cubes

We never leave home without these. Organize your clothes, toiletries and other gear in easy to grab cubes. They save tons of space and keep your bag from being a complete disaster!

Kindle Paperwhite

Kindle (rent books & guidebooks from library)

We love our Kindle Paperwhites. They’re incredibly lightweight and have the ability to store tons of books, which makes traveling with them so great. Here’s a great tip: Whenever we travel to a new country, we borrow the Lonely Planet guidebook (in the e-book version) from our local library for FREE! It’s so much more convenient than lugging those heavy books around. Inquire at your local library about e-book loans.

Anker PowerCore 20100 Battery Charger

External battery charger

Nothing is worse than having your phone die when you get into a new city. This battery charger holds at least 7 iPhone charges, and can be used for Kindles, GoPros, and speakers. We’re obsessed!

Thule Hard Shell Computer Case

Thule Hard Shell Computer Case

On the road every day, our computers can take a beating. Luckily we found this bad boy. This hard shell, water resistant case are a lifesaver for any traveler. 

GoPro HERO5 Black

GoPro

This handy little camera is best for action packed adventures, but is easy to use for every day videos as well. We have the Hero 3 Silver version, but are thinking of upgrading to the HERO5 Black version. Check out our epic hot air balloon ride video which we created only with our GoPro.

Mifa F1 Portable Bluetooth Speaker

Mifa Bluetooth Speaker

Mifa is the best in the industry for portable Bluetooth speakers. It’s splash resistant, dust proof and shock resistant, making it perfect for the beach or camping. Plus, it’s super cute and comes in a variety of colors!

Platypus Water Bottle

Platypus Water Bottle 

Meet our friend “Platty”. This BPA-free water bottle collapses down to nearly nothing when empty. This is perfect for hiking or camping trips as well as long travels.

Psi Bands Acupressure Wrist Bands for the Relief of Nausea

PSI Bands

Invented by a mother to prevent her children from getting nausea, these pressure point wristbands really DO work. Katie wears them every time we take a long and winding bus or train and she has had far fewer motion sickness issues.

Travel Toiletries

Lush Solid Shampoo

Lush Solid Shampoo

No one likes carrying those dinky little 3-oz. tubes with a week’s worth of shampoo. These all-natural biodegradable shampoo bars from Lush are made with essential oils and last about 3 months. (Ben says they smells great!) Don’t forget to buy the container too!

Solid Lotion Stick

Much lighter than lugging lotion bottles around, this stick keeps my skin from drying out in the worst of weather.

Dr. Bronner’s soap bar

One bar, 18 uses. We are longtime fans of Dr. Bronner’s biodegradable soap, but once we started traveling long term, we switched from the liquid to the solid bars because they’re a bit easier to travel with. We cut ours up into small chunks and store it in a bag so that it lasts longer. They work extra well to do a quick hand wash of your stinky clothes.

First Aid Kit

Ben loves to be prepared for anything and this “Swiss Army knife of first aid kits” has come in handy on more than one occasion. 

Cloud Storage

Amazon Cloud Drive

Amazon Cloud (pictures and copies of passports, plane tickets, insurance policies, passport photos)

This is one of the best online purchase you’ll find anywhere. If you purchase Amazon Prime for just $99 per year, you can store unlimited photos on the cloud so you’re guarantees you’ll never lose your travel pics. We’re at 400 GB and counting.

It’s also great to store copies of important documents like passport pages, passport photos, insurance policies, plane tickets, and itineraries. We are so much more at ease, knowing that all of our important documents and pictures are backed up safely.

Helpful Travel Gear

Power adapters

You can purchase this universal adapter so that you’re prepared to plug in your electronics anywhere you venture in the world!

Power converter

Don’t forget a power converter. Most phone and computer chargers have built in converters, but you should alway check for voltage 100-240V. If it has a different voltage, you’ll need to get a converter. These are mostly used for trimmers, hairdryers and some older camera battery chargers.

Wire locks

Clunky pad locks are a thing of the past. Buy a set of these wire luggage locks and keep your stuff sealed in your bag, on a bus, or locked to a dorm room bed. The thin wire fits where chunkier versions don’t, so you always know your valuables are safe. 

Dryer sheets

Add a few of these dryer sheets to every packing cube to keep your clothes smelling like fresh lavender or morning dew. You’ll thanks us when you’ve haven’t done laundry in a few weeks, but your clothes will be still smelling as fresh as a spring breeze.

Waterproof playing cards

Playing cards are universal entertainment for all countries and cultures, and are the perfect way to make new friends. You can bring this set to the pool or the beach because they’re waterproof.

Buff

What is a buff, you ask? Dust shield, eye cover, scarf, sun protector, hair tie, sweatband, bicep highlighter… There are loads of uses for this clever loop of fabric. The tribe has spoken. 

Sarong

Next to the buff, a sarong is the most versatile travel item we carry. It can be a swimsuit cover up, beach blanket, a towel, scarf, shoulder cover for temples, or a sheet for overnight buses.

Passport Photos

You’ll need passport size pictures of yourself for more things than you think. From country visas to SIM card applications to even tour ID cards, there are so many reasons to carry plenty of these around. Store bought photos can be expensive, so we print and cut them ourselves on photo paper. During our long term travels, we started with about 20 pictures each.


Interested in more budget travel resources?

Be sure to check out our Budget Travel homepage for resources on everything you need to get your travel budget started and more! Or you can read some of our favorite articles about budget travel below. 

Save this article on Pinterest for later!

Money-Saving Travel Resources
Money-Saving Travel Resources

We want to hear from you!

Do you use any of these items on the list? Do you have other great travel resource recommendations? Let us know in the comments below.

Comments (15) on “Our Favorite Money-Saving Travel Resources

  1. livelavidablog@gmail.com says:

    Such an incredible post! Thanks for sharing so many details. We are visiting this summer and plan to follow a similar itinerary. I’m a big planner so this was all super helpful! Cheers!

  2. snehalbagde765@gmail.com says:

    Really unique but less mentioned travel tips and tricks, that I have picked on my adventures. Hopefully there’ll be something new here for everyone!

  3. mpaul_hansen@yahoo.com says:

    Suggestion: like when hiking or on extended camping trip, use Multi-vitamins to insure health if diet might not be entirely "complete".

  4. steven.guilbert@natevia.com says:

    Nice tips concerning the credit card, I don’t travel a lot so I don’t worry too much about fees, but for some people : really useful ! Also yes, reuseable water bottles and smart hygienic products are life saving and allow us to save some space and not waste anything !

    • bwzweber@gmail.com says:

      Thanks Steven for your thoughtful comment. We love sharing ways people can save money on travel and happy to hear you like it! Cheers!

  5. ksusie1800@live.com says:

    Hello! We are traveling to Thailand in December and after reading your blog and other reviews we decided to get the Capital One Venture card. However, I am a little unclear about whether or not this card has ATM fees? I looked into the Charles Schwab card briefly but we are a little skeptical about it because we haven’t heard of it before. Any advice or clarification would be great, thanks!

    • ktdieder@gmail.com says:

      Hey, great questions. We will do our best to explain in greater detail:

      -The Capital One card does have ATM fees, but no foreign transaction fees. So if you withdraw money in Thailand from an ATM, I believe you are charged $10 USD in fees per transaction. When you make a purchase at a hotel or in a store that accepts credit cards, you are not charged any fees. Also, you get 2 points for every dollar you spend and you can use those points to pay off travel-related purchases, like flights, buses, ferries, trains, hotels, etc.

      -Honestly, I would wholeheartedly recommend the Charles Schwab card. We didn’t know much about it before getting it either, but I’ll try to explain as simple as possible. Basically, it is a high-yield checking account (gives you higher interest rates than typical banks). Charles Schwab specializes in investing, so this is how they can give higher interest. That said, you do NOT need to invest in order to have a checking account with them. It is free to set up, and the only requirement is that you start with more than $100 USD in it. We have had this account for 2 years and really only use it for ATM withdrawals in foreign countries so we don’t have to pay the fee. It has saved us hundreds of dollars. (Ben has actually calculated and it’s crazy how much it saves!) A side note: you will be charged the ATM fee initially, but they reimburse all ATM fees at the end of each month. We always take pictures of the receipts with the fee just to double check, but we’ve never had any issues with not getting the reimbursement. Before we had this card, we typically took out large amounts of money from ATMs to avoid paying the fees multiple times on our travels, but it felt uncomfortable carrying that much cash on us all the time. This is much better in our opinion since you can take out smaller sums and not worry about paying the $10+ fee each time you withdraw.

      Hope this clears it up for you! Feel free to send us an email if you have more questions. Best of luck!

  6. jackwilliot@hotmail.com says:

    Great post, I thought travelling was not that easy if we are planning to abroad. But your blog just made it easy to roam easily. Thanks for sharing these resources. Surely going to give it a try.

  7. philx35@gmail.com says:

    Have you guys tried the WeSwap card? It’s saved us SO much money, perfect interbank exchange rates and no ATM fees if you withdraw over a certain amount. No more losing money through exchange rates. Would highly recommend.

    • ktdieder@gmail.com says:

      Hey Phil, Our Charles Schwab card (first one on this list) has the same benefits – No ATM fees which is ahhhh-mazing when traveling, as you know!

  8. lia@practicalwanderlust.com says:

    I laughed at a lot of these because we bought the EXACT same things! I even have the Schwab and Venture cards 😛 I think it’s finally time to give up on the tiny hotel bottles and buy my first lush shampoo bar now …

  9. contactus@ladyandthetramper.com says:

    Great post guys! So detailed. Love sign up bonusues for credit cards, though less generous in the UK, they still are a great way to bag some free and discounted travel. Google translate is such a lifesaver. Definately going to check out the budget app for our next trip. We never tend to overspend, especially camping everywhere, but when you can see exactly what you’re spending where it’s easy to make cuts here and there. We loved the service World Nomads gave when we had a bit of a medical emergency in Chile they’re fantastic, so glad to see them recommended here.

    • ktdieder@gmail.com says:

      Hey Sally! Yeah, Trail Wallet is one of the best apps we have. It’s made budgeting fun. We try to compete with ourselves to see how little we can spend each day. I agree, World Nomads service goes above and beyond and we cannot recommend them highly enough.
      P.S. We’re loving your Instagram. It’s stunning, keep up the good work!

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