Curated Travel Resources that save time and money - updated for 2020

Curated Travel Resources

Welcome to the Minimalist Journeys Travel Resources page, a curated list of the tools and websites we recommend so that you too can experience more by living with less. This list is designed to make your trip planning a breeze and your travels more affordable.

We use many of the travel resources on this list on a regular basis. We have tried and tested many options, but only those resources that made the cut are listed here. As we all know, travelling sustainably means different things to different people. Supporting small business and local communities that host tourists and travellers is one of the easiest ways to travel responsibly.

Obviously, these are our preferences, and this is by no means an exhaustive list. Though, we do add and change this list as we find more and better resources that help us all. As such, we always look for companies that are aligned with our values, so if you represent a company interested in working with us please get in touch.

This page contains links to products and services we use and recommend. We may receive compensation when you click on links to those products. For more information, see our Disclosure Policy.

Online Travel Agencies

Travel fare aggregators / meta search engines make comparing prices for flights, accommodation and rental cars fast and easy. The two largest providers are:

So one way or the other, if you are booking travel online and not directly with the supplier, there is a good chance that you will be using one of these two companies.

One word of advice upfront. Before you start searching for accommodation or transport (or any travel deals for that matter) online, do two things:

  • Clear your cache, and
  • Go into Incognito mode.

This way, providers won’t know how keen you are to travel to B or do X, and you prevent any potential price hikes based on your search history.

Expedia

We hardly ever use just one website for all our travel needs but when we do, our go-to website is Expedia. We’ve only had excellent experiences with them so far. Expedia has a sufficiently large selection of airline(seat)s, hotels etc. It is easy to make and manage bookings via the website and/or app. Prices are similar as you’ll find elsewhere (sometimes cheaper), and you can save an extra 10% or more with Expedia Rewards member prices.

Expedia saved our butts a few times over the years when we were unable to book flights directly with the airline, most recently with Avianca in Ecuador.

Apple App Store
Google Play

Travel and Ground Transport

Flixbus

While in Europe, we try to travel via land transport between countries and between cities. The best bus company, by far, across the continent is FlixBus.

Since its inception in 2013, FlixBus has now become Europe’s largest intercity bus network.  It has an easy to use online booking system as well as a comprehensive route network between cities – especially ones not connected by train directly.

Every bus we have used is new with quality seats and good and free Wi-Fi for the duration of the journeys.

They also offer a simple but effective smartphone app to assist with displaying the reservation details when boarding the bus.

Other features include GPS Live Tracking and an automated Delay-Management System which assists us to inform those receiving us if there are any delays.

Apple App Store
Google Play

Google Travel

Most people use Google as a general search engine and after several years of playing in the sandpit with various applications and websites, Google Travel seems to be the one that has conslidated all the different travel-based products togther. If you are logged into your Google account, it will display all your trip infomation such as reservations, as well as your research.

Google Flights, started in 2011, as part of Google Travel now, is a highly effective metasearch service that saves from having to search the various other websites individually.

The original Google Trips (offline) app is no longer, but some of the functionality is included here.

This is certainly the one place where you can research and find your cheap flights, discover destinations and more.

When you’re signed in to your Google account, you can find your reservations we send to your Gmail. These include reservations for airlines, hotels, car rentals, restaurant bookings, and train or bus travel.

Google Flights is a useful tool when you want to travel somewhere last minute, as it allows you to just enter your departure airport and then provides you with a list of destinations and airfares to choose.

It also comes in handy if you have several destination options, such as with a round-the-world trip. Google Flights, for example, helped us tremendously when figuring out the cheapest way from Ecuador into the Caribbean (where you’ve got 30 island nations to choose from) and then again from the Caribbean into Central America.

Another great feature is Google Flights’ ability to keep you informed of price changes (based on your selected dates, route and other parameters).

RentalCars.com

We use and recommend RentalCars.com as our go-to rental car aggregator website. They connect us to the biggest brands: Avis, Budget, Dollar, Enterprise, Europcar, Hertz and Thrifty.

And while there have been a mixed bag of reviews over their service (especially as people don’t understand how aggregator websites operate), we have only had good experiences with them specificially.

Rome2Rio

We use Rome2Rio to check what transport options exist between A and B, how long they take and how much they might cost. While you can book straight through Rome2Rio, the website also provides links to transport providers to enable you to check (and book) with the transport provider directly.

Apple App Store
Google Play

Skiplagged

Skiplagged should have actually been named SkipALeg as it was developed to find lower airfares using an insider strategy: Let’s say a non-stop fare from Auckland to Los Angeles might be over $800 one-way, but a fare on the same airline from Auckland to Dallas with a stop in Los Angeles might be $600. Buying the flight to Dallas and ditching the plane in Los Angeles would save you $200+, just by skipping the final leg.

Several airlines dislike this strategy and are suing Skiplagged. As an average consumer, we love the idea of cheaper airfares by having the rules exploited in our favor. Of course, skipping the final leg only works if you travel with carry-on luggage only.

Apple App Store
Google Play

Skyscanner

Skyscanner offers more than just flight searches, but we mainly use it to find flight deals. While many other search engines ask for your travel dates (+/- a few days of flexibility on either side), Skyscanner allows you to search whole months. This is great if you are flexible, and a low(er) airfare is more important to you than travelling on a specific date.

Apple App Store
Google Play

Uber

When we can’t use public transport or walk we often opt for Uber over a taxi. Why?

  • Uber is usually cheaper than taxis and the vehicles are generally cleaner.
  • We know what the estimated fare is before we catch a ride.
  • You know who your driver is and can contact them if something is accidentally left behind in the vehicle.
  • Payment is easier and safer with your credit card charged directly and your payment information stored safely.
Apple App Store
Google Play

Accommodation

Airbnb

As full-time travellers, we source a large percentage of our short-term rental accommodation through Airbnb, because:

  • these type of accommodation options are usually more affordable than hotel accommodation.
  • You often stay in someone’s home, away from the tourist crowds. You can share stories with your hosts, ask for recommendations and experience local life.
  • The app and website are easy to use and allow you to filter by type of accommodation (a private room or the entire place), features (including kitchen and laundry facilities) and budget.

If, by chance, you haven’t used Airbnb why not use this link and get AUD46 off your first Airbnb stay? And even if you are a seasoned Airbnb user, you may want to check out what makes a delightful Airbnb experience.

Aussie Housesitters

If you’re a pet owner wanting to keep your furry family at home while away or someone who’d love to look after animals for a while, Aussie Housesitters make it easy to find the right match.

There are homes available all over Australia in most every major cities and towns. Is there somewhere you’re always wanted to go? Want to live like a local and really experience the culture authentically?

Booking.com

Booking.com is one of (mainly) two aggregator websites/travel metasearch engines we use for accommodation reservations, though it also allows you to book flights, rental cars and airport transfers.

The website has an extensive filter functionality to narrow down your search, including things that are important to us such as a kitchen, laundry facilities and our own bathroom.

As members of Booking.com’s rewards program Genius, we may get an extra 10% off and receive complimentary perks like welcome drinks, free airport shuttles and late check-outs.

Apple App Store
Google Play

Homestay

Homestay is a great alternative to Airbnb, as it also provides an opportunity to stay with locals at an affordable rate, giving you a more authentic and immersive experience than staying in tourist hotels. We used Homestay extensively in Cuba.

Kiwi Housesitters

Connecting pet owners who’d rather keep their furry family at home while away and those looking for temporary furry companionship, Kiwi Housesitters has changed our lives.

Housesitting can significantly cut down on your travel costs and save hundred of dollars. It’s a great mechanism to help not blow your travel budget.

Hotels.com

When we use Booking.com, we often also check Hotels.com. If the price is the same or less we book through Hotels.com. Why? For every 10 nights you stayed at a Hotels.com accommodation within the year, the website gives you a free night (or at least a chunky credit) based on the average price of those 10 nights. We have used this a few times over the years.

Its website and app are easy to use. Similar to Booking.com, it allows you to filter by budget and feature (for example, kitchen, free Wi-Fi, free breakfast).

Apple App Store
Google Play

Trusted Housesitters

Trusted Housesitters is the third housesitting platform that we use. Although they do have opportunities in New Zealand and Australia, we have redominently used them for our Europe-based housesitting.

With their platform, you are easily able to browse through hundreds of house sitting opportunities. And there are so many positive reasons to housesit, and the most obvious is usually the free accommodation.

Activities and Tours

Baltic Tours

Baltic Tours is one of the leading travel agency and tour operator in the Baltics and Northeastern Europe. They offer a great variety of sightseeing tours in the following Scandinavian and Eastern European countries: Lithuania, Latvia, Estonia, Poland, Norway, Sweden, Denmark, Finland, Russia, Ukraine, and Belarus. They generally cater for singles, couples and small groups age 35 and over. Travelling via bus, with accommodation included in the tour prices, they have received great reviews for all their different tours.

BiteMojo

Currently only serving Bangkok, Barcelona, Berlin, Budapest, Jerusalem, Ljubljana, Lisbon, Madrid, New York City, Rome, Singapore, and Tel-Aviv, BiteMojo application and the associated service it provides, ensures that you get to taste local cuisines and learn a little about the city you are in. In fact, the different snacks selected and the knowledge gained on these walking tours that last between 3 – 5 hours are amazing. It is your tour and you can take as long as you like with them.

BookMe

BookMe is great for booking discounted activities in New Zealand (as well as Australia and Fiji). We have used it a few times: securing a 44% discount for a caving tour in Waitomo, and great 2-for-1 deals for the Taieri Gorge Railway in Dunedin and the Hot Springs at Lake Tekapo.

Viator

Viator is a destination tours and activities provider. It features thousands of in-destination travel activities in more than 2,000 destinations worldwide.

With their database of activities, they help you to research and book travel experiences as well as post opinions of those experiences. That said, they are not a travel or tour agency, and they do not provide such experiences ourselves. So when you make a booking, you will be purchasing a tour, ticket or other services directly from the third-party supplier.

We regularly review and promote tours in the various articles we publish – these are tours that we would go on based upon a strict criteria.

Travel Money

Latitude 28° Global Platinum Mastercard

Having lived in Australia for more than a decade, we researched in depth which credit card to recommend to travelers from Australia (us included).

The Latitude 28° Global Platinum Mastercard is one of only two Australian credit cards that don’t charge currency conversion fees and have no annual fee (the other one is the Bankwest Zero Platinum Mastercard). The Latitude 28° Global Platinum Mastercard was awarded a 2017 CANSTAR five star rating for Outstanding Value for Occasional Travelers. You must be at least 18 years of age and a permanent resident of Australia to apply.

Budget Your Trip

Budget Your Trip is one of the few websites we’ve been referencing regularly since planning our first three months’ trip in 2012. It has only gotten better and more comprehensive since:

  • It lets travellers search for travel costs by city, country and budget type. These estimates are generated from real-world expenses provided by travellers.
  • Once registered, travellers can plan their personal travel budgets. The costs are broken down into expense categories and shown in table and chart format.
  • During and after a trip, users can track their expenses to see how much they’re spending and if they’re staying on budget. Graphs and tables break down costs by geographic location, category, and day.

OFX

We started using OFX several years ago to transfer money between New Zealand and Australia. They are an Australian-based online foreign exchange and payments company with offices around the world. We found them after researching the various rates that the generic banks were offering. We were extremely pleased with the quality of service, the speed of transfer, the communications throughout each transfer and most importantly, the exchange rate used.

The process is simple and once you have been verified through their security process, OFX ensures that once they receive your funds, 80% of all major currency transfers are processed within 24 hours. When you have started a transfer, they communicate with you at each stage of the transfer via the OFX app, website, SMS or email notifications which is very reassuring.

The benefits of using OFX over your normal banks include:

  • Much better exchange rates. Able to save on exchange rate margins.
  • Able to mitigate against currency fluctuations through their Forward Contracts and Limit Orders services.
  • 55 currencies (and counting)
  • Your payments are secure. OFX is regulated by over 50 global regulators.
  • Their Smartphone app provides live exchange rates with their all-in-one currency converter plus you can transfer money and track your transfers on the go.

As a new partner for Minimalist Journeys, OFX is offering all customers who we refer, fee-free deals (if you register before 31 January 2020).

Apple App Store
Google Play

Travel Insurance

While we travel away from New Zealand, we have selected Insurance Geeks Limited trading as TINZ as our travel insurance provider. They are located in Auckland, New Zealand, and have arranged our insurance as an Appointed Representative of Coffre-Fort Pty Ltd which is an Australian company. The insurance policy itself is underwritten by certain underwriters at Lloyd’s.

It is important to note that we do not promote or recommend insurance companies that we do not currently use. For TINZ, we do not receive any commission for mentioning their name.

SmartPhone Travel Apps

These are the travel apps we have on our smartphones. These are there because we can’t travel as we do without them. We believe you should have them as well. We have mentioned a few already in other sections of our travel resources page:

Google Maps

It’s kinda boring because everyone knows about Google Maps, but there are good reasons why it should be among your mapping services of choice:

  • While not always hundred per cent correct, it is better in providing directions than any car GPS system we have used.
  • In many places, Google Maps is linked with public transport systems, providing you directions utilizing buses, trains and even ferries.
  • Google Maps not only helps you find local businesses and places of interest but also provides a wealth of useful information about these places, such as opening times, contact details and reviews.
  • You can download maps for offline use, which is great if you don’t have internet access when you’re out and about.
  • While online, you can mark locations and even label them to make it easier to refer back to as needed (even offline).

We frequently embed Google Maps into our posts for easier reference, including

Apple App Store
Google Play

MAPS.ME

Our second mapping application of choice is MAPS.ME, which provides offline maps using OpenStreetMap data. It often provides more detailed maps than Google Maps, which is especially handy when you’re out hiking. MAPS.ME was invaluable for us in Cuba where Google Maps does not work at all.

Speaking of hiking: another great feature of MAPS.ME is that it shows you both the route from A to B and the elevation profile, so you know in advance how difficult a chosen route will be.

Apple App Store
Google Play

TripAdvisor

TripAdvisor seems to have been around forever (in relative internet terms anyway).

TripAdvisor is a travel and restaurant website that shows hotel and restaurant reviews, accommodation bookings and other travel-related content. But the best thing about it is the interactive travel forums with -user-genrated content.

We often use it to

  • check out reviews before booking accommodation, restaurant or activity;
  • compare prices for accommodation; and/or
  • book accommodation via its FlipKey vacation rental site.
Apple App Store
Google Play

This page contains links to products and services we use and recommend. We may receive compensation when you click on links to those products. For more information, see our Disclosure Policy.

TripIt

TripIt has been our itinerary tool of choice for years. As we book components for our trips, we email our booking confirmations to TripIt. It then creates a new itinerary (or adds the component/s to an existing one). In effect, it contain all our travel plans, in one place.

Itineraries include important details which are available offline, such as dates and times, flight numbers, booking references, contact details as well as links to mapping services, weather information and more. We can share the information with loved ones so that they know where we are in case of an emergency.

The added bonus of having all our past itineraries in the one place is that it’s easy to refer back to if someone asks for a recommendation.

In its basic version, TripIt is free. TripIt Pro offers more functionality for frequent travelers (at a price), including very useful alerts in case of flight delays or cancellations.

Apple App Store
Google Play

Didn’t find what you were looking for? Check out our other resources pages:

Last Updated – Sunday 12 January 2020

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Curated and recommended Travel Resources that save time and money | Minimalist Journeys
Curated and recommended Travel Resources that save time and money | Minimalist Journeys
Curated and recommended Travel Resources that save time and money | Minimalist Journeys

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