travel tools + reference resources

Planning a round-the-world trip takes a lot of time, effort, patience (or not, because we're really not so strong in this area), tools, and inspiration. Below is our ever-evolving list of resources. We hope it's helpful to you in whatever plans you're making, and if you know of anything you prefer that's not listed here, please let us know! This roundup contains affiliate links - 50% of any profits from them will be donated to Charity:Water.

maps

Google Maps (free)
Google Earth (free)
Google My Maps - Create maps for specific regions with pins for accommodations, attractions, planned routes, etc. Very useful, but also super time-consuming to construct. (free, but need to have a Google account for this one)

 

Gathering inspiration

Pinterest (free)
Trover - Search by location to find posted photos of different areas, finds, and attractions (free)

 

organizing lists and plans 

Airtable - A super way-better-than-Excel database tool (free)
TripIt - Easily build a trip itinerary and track your plans simply by forwarding your receipt emails to TripIt (free; paid version, TripIt Pro, $49/yr)

 

route planning

Rome2Rio - Great overview search tool on how to get from one place to another (free)
ITA Matrix - Super-customizable flight search tool (free)
FlightConnections.com - Easily search options to fly from a specific place (free)

 

Experiences

Journy - Curated travel-planning services by in-the-know concierges ($25/day of planning; get 1 free day of planning with promo code "ref-CxNsYTc")
With Locals - Experiences with locals in a ton of destinations
VizEat - A traveler-oriented supper club of sorts
EatWith - Communal dining

flight deals

Fare Deal Alert (free)
The Flight Deal (free)
+ IFTTT - set up deal alerts for a specific city or airline: how to courtesy of Frequent Miler here (free)
Cleverlayover - finds the cheapest combination of flights to build an itinerary (free)
Skiplagged - search for hidden-city fares (free)
Tripcombi - similar to Cleverlayover (free)

 

award search tools

Award Maximizer - Lets you search multiple award charts for the same routing to compare points pricing (free)

Expert Flyer - Set up to 30 award flight alerts / month as well as upgrade and seat alerts ($9.99/mo)

Hotel Hustle - Allows you to set alerts to be notified if an award booking option becomes available for specific properties and dates you set ($2.99/mo)

Book Your Award - Award booking service that will find you business- or first-class award seats on flights with the points you have ($165 per award per person)

 

accomodations

Airbnb (free, and if you're not yet a member, sign up through this link for $40 off first stay)
Trusted Housesitters - Membership site to post and apply for housesitting assignments ($119/yr; get 20% off through this link)
Hotel Tonight - great for last minute hotel options at a pretty steep discount (free)

 

Misc.

Polarsteps - Track your journey visually and pretty effortlessly (free)

 
 

travel

How to Travel the World on $50 A Day, Matt Kepnes
Wide Open World, John Marshall
One Year Off, David Elliot Cohen
Home Sweet Anywhere, Lynne Martin
Round The World in 30 Days, Jenny McIver
Love With A Chance of Drowning, Torre DeRoche
The Geography of Bliss, Eric Weiner
The Lost Girls, Jennifer Baggett, Holly Corbett, Amanda Pressner

Life stuff

The 4-Hour Work Week, Tim Ferriss
The 2 AM Principle, Jon Levy

 

Minimalism

The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up, Marie Kondo
The More of Less, Joshua Becker

 

websites

Website builders - We use Squarespace for this site and WordPress for our business sites. Pros and cons: Squarespace gives you a great looking website without the need for any real design or coding knowledge, but there's a monthly subscription fee per site (not account) - boo, and there's not a lot of design flexibility without really getting into CSS. WordPress is not nearly as intuitive or easy to use, but offers a ton more flexibility, and your only expenses will be one-time fees for buying a theme or hiring a developer to code your design.

Domain Host - Hostmonster - We've been using Hostmonster for years. They're consistently stable, affordable, and have really good customer service, although if you want to talk to a tech, you may spend a chunk of time on hold to get to them.

 

Design and Photo editing software

Adobe Creative Cloud - As creatives, we're Adobe groupies, and we couldn't do our jobs without Photoshop, Lighroom, Illustrator, and InDesign.

On mobile, Shari loves A Color Story, and Josh sometimes uses PS Express and Photoshop Mix but prefers to stick with manual adjustments in Instagram.

 

tech + camera gear

Find out which tech and camera gear we decided on here.

 

security

CrashPlan - A cloud backup system for our computers that's used worldwide and considered very stable and secure. It's running automatically to back up our machines any time they're connected to the internet.

ChronoSync - An application used to sync computer hard drives to external hard drives to create a hard back up of our files.

With both CrashPlan and ChronoSync running, we should have 2 copies of our data, so if we lose anything, we shouldn't be up Shit Creek. (Fingers crossed!)

Password Management - We use LastPass for secure 1-password access to any sites we need to sign in to. (Use this link for 1 month free)

 

other tools

Bidding/invoicing/time tracking software - Josh uses Blinkbid, and Shari uses Harvest ($10 off 1st month through this link).

Accounting - We both use QuickBooks.

To Do list management - Shari is basically obsessed with lists and makes good use of the free version of Todoist.

Large file sharing - WeTransfer lets you send files up to 2 GB at a time for free.

Newsletters - Mailchimp is our buddy!

 

TV + Films

No Reservations, Parts Unknown, and pretty much anything else by Anthony Bourdain. We heart him so much!
The Wonder List with Bill Weir
Chef's Table on Netflix
Minimalism documentary
Adventure Bound with Alby Mangels
Lonely Planet
Samantha Brown
Survivorman with Les Strou