Our tried and true travel planning tools- for booking a complicated family trip or just a quick weekend away.
Here are all the resources that I use to plan our family travel, and keep this blog running. From booking flights to booking hotels, to hosting a website, here are the best family travel planning resources, as well as the best blogging tools.
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SafetyWing– You need travel insurance, especially in this new age of cancellations, changes, and border closures. Safety Wing offers the best rates I’ve found for covering our family of four for long-term travel.
You don’t need to list every country you are traveling to, so you don’t need to worry if your plans change. You can set your insurance to renew each month until you stop it. They also offer more comprehensive medical insurance for digital nomads.
Skyscanner– Skyscanner has an amazing feature where your destination can be “Everywhere” and it will show you flights from your home airport (or wherever you are looking to fly from) sorted by price. Click into any location and you can see a calendar of the best prices.
They also let you select an entire country as your destination, so you can see in one search which city is cheapest to fly into from your location. I love this feature! They also include a lot of smaller airlines that don’t appear on other search engines.
Once you’ve found your flight, Skyscanner forwards you to the airline to book directly- so it there’s any problems, you won’t need to deal with a middleman, or end up with funny flight credits that are hard to use.
Discover Cars– This is a great place to check prices on rental cars, all around the world. Includes the US, Mexico, and a ton of other countries from New Zealand to Turkey.
They show you all the major companies and make it really easy to see what is included in your rental, and what is optional. No surprise fees!
Bonus: they have Free Cancellation if your plans change.
SpotHero Parking– Ever found looking for parking in a major city stressful? Or found parking and then realized that the garage a block down was cheaper? You need SpotHero!
SpotHero lets you compare prices, then book parking ahead of time in major US cities, and even at US Airports. This is especially helpful in places where parking is tight like New York City, San Francisco, and Portland.
Bookaway– This is a great service for finding buses, trains, and even private transfers. The best part of this service is the free cancellation. We find that many times bus and train tickets are non-refundable through other booking sites, and we all know how fast plans can change!
We found this site especially helpful in Mexico where a lot of the bus companies don’t accept US credit cards on their sites.
Hotels and Accomodation
Booking.com– I love that Booking allows you to build up status points (they call them “Genius Levels”) that don’t expire. I find that Booking often has the best prices on hotels in the US, though I always double-check at Hotels.com, and also through the hotel’s direct site when possible.
I also like the Booking app- it’s easy to use, and will alert me if I have a conflicting reservation. When changing my hotel reservation it gives me the option of automatically canceling the older overlapping reservation.
Pruvo– This app will watch your hotel reservations and alert you if a lower price is available. It alerts you to your specific hotel, and how much you’ll save if you decide to re-book and cancel the original reservation. When booking a complicated trip quite a few days out this is a great way to save money! Download their free app to make it even easier.
City Tours and Group Tours
Viator– This tour booking company is owned by TripAdvisor and has a massive catalog of available tours. They do a great job showing the exact itinerary of what you are booking, so you know how long you’ll stop at each location. Their customer service is great, I’ve had to modify trips and they are very easy to work with.
GetYourGuide– For day trips or tours around specific cities I always check GetYourGuide. My favorite part of this service is that they list the actual tour operator. I can search for reviews, and just feel more comfortable knowing who I’ll be dealing with on the ground.
G Adventures– For a tour of a week or longer, G Adventures is the first place I’d look. I went on their small group tour around Jordan which included Petra and had a terrific time. I met several travelers who have used G Adventures around the world and always had a good experience.
They also have tours specifically for families- these family tours are generally for families with kids ages 6 and up. There are some really cool options here, from Thailand to the Galapagos Islands.
Budgeting and Logistics
Tripit– This free app puts all of your travel reservations and confirmation numbers in one easy-to-read itinerary on your phone. You either allow it to scan your inbox or forward confirmation emails to the app. You can have multiple travelers assigned to any trip.
This has been a really useful app- when planning our lengthy cross country road trip, it helps me double-check that my hotel reservations are all lined up (and not overlapping). You can also add activities or tours. You can even attach pdfs to specific plans, which is great for things like bus tickets. Highly recommend!
National Park Service App– This free app includes all sorts of information about all the National parks including maps, calendars, and amenities. You can mark certain parks as favorites, and download the info for any park to use it offline.
From parking to fuel, or where to find the nearest restroom, this is a must-have when exploring the US National Parks!
YNAB– This stands for “You Need A Budget”. If you don’t have budgeting software, you should try this product. We have been using YNAB for years and totally rely on it. The first step to making smart financial decisions is knowing exactly how you currently spend your money.
Rakuten– This Chrome extension and app gives you cashback on your online purchases. Not using it is literally leaving money on the table. Rates vary, but currently 2% cashback on Booking.com, 6% on Viator tours. When booking trips and tours the cash adds up. Use my referral link and we both get extra cashback!
Blogging Tools & Resources
SiteGround– I host my blog through SiteGround and have been pleased with their service. They are a great entry-level host. I especially like that I can easily access database and theme files without using a separate FTP.
ConvertKit– I manage my email subscriptions and opt-in offers through ConvertKit. I find it very intuitive and easy to manage. I love the easy design features for opt-ins.
Affilimate– this online software tracks where your affiliate sales are coming from and pulls all of your various affiliate programs (mostly) into one dashboard. One of its greatest features is a heatmap of each post. Highly recommend.
Tailwind– I use Tailwind to create Pinterest images for my blog and to manage all my Pinterest posting. The interface can be a bit slow, but it spaces out my pins and saves me a ton of time versus pinning to Pinterest directly. I use Tailwind Create to create pins for all of my posts.
Later– I use Later to schedule Instagram posts. l like their easy-to-use visual calendar. I tried Tailwind for Instagram and found switching between profiles awkward, I much prefer the Later interface.