I’ve compiled a list of resources for you that have been useful during my travels. I hope they help make your adventures easier as well! When you use my links on this page to purchase anything at all that you need on Amazon, I receive a small commission, at no cost you, that helps keep this blog going. So thank you in advance!
Favorite Travel Websites:
Airbnb.com discount code: Katie’s $40 off your first purchase of $75 or more! I have had great experiences with hosts, and not so great. I usually search hotel options first, but European Airbnb prices are hard to beat. In the states, I can usually find a hotel near the same price. Here in Puerto Rico, VRBO tends to be popular as well, especially on the island of Vieques.
Scottscheapflights.com sends crazy flight deals right to your email. I went to Europe for $495 R/T from one of his alerts and Hawaii for $412 R/T. The catch with these flights is that you have to be able to act fast as they will disappear quickly.
Armed Forces Vacation Club is available to military as well as DOD civilians and has hotel and resort deals for as low as $300/week. The best hotels I’ve stayed at with them are in the Orlando, Florida area and in Williamsburg, Virginia.
Marriott.com offers decent government and military hotel rates, as well as intermittent rates emailed to you as a Mariott Bonvoy Member. I use the Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant AMEX card for most of my purchases and receive hotel points. They waive the $450 annual fee for U.S. military members, and it has many perks. We used our sign-up bonus points to stay at a NYC Marriott for free. The AMEX Platinum, whose annual fee of $550 is waived for military as well, is worth looking at for non-hotel travel perks like Uber credit, in-flight purchase credits, and airport lounge perks. We stay in hotels more than we fly so I chose the Marriott card. Use the links posted here to get a higher sign-up bonus! I received 60K points, but this link gets you 75K!
*DISCLAIMER: YOU MUST CALL AMEX CUSTOMER SERVICE OR FILL OUT AN ONLINE FORM TO INITIATE THE MILITARY ANNUAL FEE WAIVER AFTER YOU ARE APPROVED FOR AN AMEX CREDIT CARD. I WOULD NOT APPLY/USE THE AMEX PLATINUM CREDIT CARD OR MARRIOTT BONVOY BRILLIANT UNLESS YOU QUALIFY FOR THE MILITARY FEE WAIVER OR TRAVEL EXTREMELY OFTEN. THE PERKS WILL NOT COMPENSATE FOR THE ANNUAL FEE IF YOU ONLY TRAVEL A FEW TIMES A YEAR.
Uber Eats sounds like an odd thing to mention in travel resources, but I use it all the time while traveling! You often don’t have a car while exploring a new place, so you can either Uber to a restaurant and back ($10-$20) or pay around $5 for delivery right to your hotel door. A pizza delivery fee is usually $5 plus a tip, but with Uber Eats I can get delicious, healthier options for the same cost. Here is a promo code that will get you $2.50 off your first 2 purchases from Uber Eats. Just use this promo code at checkout: eats-zaccaryo1ue
Uber is a life saver, in some places, and detrimental to your wallet in others. In Puerto Rico, everyone uses Uber all the time because it’s cheap, and there are not many parking options in the city. However, in NYC, I preferred walking and using the subway to Uber. Sign up here to get $2 off of your first 3 rides when you create an account for the first time!
Amazon.com is where you can find all kinds of travel gear quickly. Now that I’m in Puerto Rico, Amazon is my best friend. I can order sunscreen, floats, waterproof gear, and even some groceries for cheaper than I can buy at stores near me as we live in a touristy area. You can check out my Amazon Travel Store for all my favorite travel products. I you buy anything at all through these links, I receive a small commission, at no cost to you, that helps keep this blog going, so thank you for your help!
Favorite Travel Gear:
My friend gave me one of his old Adidas Soccer Backpacks for travelling around Europe by train for my first time. This old thing lasted through Belgium, Germany, the Netherlands, and Paris. This bag was so useful that I took it to Hawaii in the picture above! The extra space meant to store a soccer ball is what made this backpack great for carrying all the essentials. You can see what I packed for Europe in my post here –> Basic Packing Guide.
Although the soccer backpack worked fine on a budget, it wasn’t really made to carry that much weight and it hurt my back when lugging it for long walks. For my next month-long trip around Europe the following year, I upgraded to an Osprey Farpoint 40 Travel Backpack. It has a waist band that puts most the load on your hips instead of your lower back. Now, I even use it on day trips around the island here in Puerto Rico.
I wear my Teva sandals everywhere all the time. I have tried Chacos, but they just aren’t my favorite. I think my feet are too wide and I can’t get the straps to fit. I love Tevas because the two straps are Velcro and could not be easier to tighten. Teva has more durable models with better arch support, but so far, I like these for just bumming around. If you want to hike in them, I would upgrade to a sturdier Teva or Chaco sandal with a better grip.
I’m a fanny of this product. Hehe 🙂 … But really, when it comes to cruising, snorkeling, or even just swimming in the ocean, no one feels comfortable leaving their valuables in a bag on shore. I put my phone, ID, etc. in this pack and strap it to me. It’s a life saver with 3 seals and Velcro to keep water out.
I used this money belt while travelling around Europe both times. Rome is known for pickpocketing- so much so that you can sit back in a crowd and watch it happen. I would put my money, passport, and cards in this pouch under my shirt, and go to the bathroom to take out cash when I needed it. A skin color is the best choice to choose when buying a money belt so it will be easier to hide. Some may say it is not necessary to hide your money this extensively, and they may be right, I just didn’t want to chance it.
Hotels never fail to have white towels. I pack these makeup wipes with me so that I don’t leave any stains or receive charges for getting black mascara on their white linens. I guess I feel that Burt’s Bees is more natural than other brands.
This is my favorite sunscreen ever. I often use it as foundation to even out my skin tone and then just add a little powder over it. It is good for beachdays, but does not cover darker blemishes.
Favorite Travel Reads:
If your going to Europe, you need Rick Steves. He is a travel expert and interesting writer. Known to verify and update his guides each year, Rick Steves tells you where to go, the history behind it, and how to get there. He is the ultimate tour guide. You can also download his audio tour app that will guide you through museums and other historical attractions. The books are bulky, so I tend to just disassemble them and bring the chapters that covered my destinations.
Sometimes, you don’t even know where to go, and all the options can be overwhelming. These two books will provide inspiration and information that may help you decide what locations are best for your travel style.
Favorite Pastime Reads
So my copy is a little warn, but that is because I love it so much. In this good read, Les Giblin explains the most practical principles to human interaction. This book is not just for leadership or work settings, but helps me with making new friends and maintaining great relationships. Each chapter ends with a few key points, making this book easy to read again and again just to brush up on interpersonal skills.
As a Christian, this book really helps me gain perspective on why I am here on Earth in the first place. It is more of a devotional as each day is only a couple of pages long, but helpful nonetheless in realizing that the “American Dream” is actually not what we are here for at all.