Helpful Travel Sites

While I am in the process of writing up some posts about my recent travels, I thought I'd shoot some helpful info your way. (You know, gotta stick to the One Post a Week Promise!)

Below is a list of some of my favorite travel websites, both of the professional info and blogger variety. Personally, I LOVE travel bloggers. I find the good ones to be both enjoyable story tellers and amazing resources. In addition, though, we all need some good general travel resource websites for booking hostels and planning trips. Those are included too.

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Travel Bloggers

Adventurous Kate

Kate was 26 when she quit her job and starting traveling full-time. She used her marketing know-how to quickly turn her blog into a business. She offers a lot of great practical tips and travel info. Her goal is to debunk the fears and misnomers of solo female travel.

Legal Nomads

Jodi was a lawyer who decided to take a year off to travel. That was in 2008. She's still traveling and her focus is mainly on food and eating your way around the world.

Nomadic Matt

Matt has created one of the largest travel blog empires. His site has a plethora of solid advice and travel guides. He's written a number of eBooks and even has a forum on his site.

Stuck In Customs

Trey is predominately an amazing HDR photographer. His pictures are absolutely stunning. Definitely check out his portfolio. But he also has a lot of posts about the art of photography, attempting to help aspiring photographers learn the craft. He's completely open about what equipment he uses etc.

This Battered Suitcase

Brenna is now a graduate student working on her master's in creative writing in London. It's fitting because her posts have always been beautifully written narrative accounts. She still travels around. Her blog includes some tips for traveling, but mainly it is great non-fiction reading. She writes as a memoirist. Her posts are emotional and thoughtful.

Wandering Earl

Earl started traveling after graduation in 1999 with a budget of $1200. He managed to turn that fund into the start of a permanent nomadic experience. He travels all over, including to lots of less traditional locations. He has great posts with real advice on how to travel full-time, including an eBook titled How to Live a Life of Travel. He also has a tour business called Wandering Earl Tours.

Young Adventuress

Liz is a charming solo female traveler and one of the most popular travel bloggers. She is currently living in New Zealand, but still travels all around. Her sweet and relatable writing style have garnered her a large following. She has been featured in many online outlets and goes on a lot of cool adventures courtesy of the various tour companies, travel businesses and resorts that sponsor the trips. Any post about a trip that has been sponsored will acknowledge the support, but Liz claims that all opinions are her own.

Travel Planning Sites

BootsnAll

BootsnAll is billed as a one-stop indie travel guide. It has travel guides by continent, Round The World travel resources, a community, and a whole bunch of practical advice.

Frommers

Frommer's is the website version of their famous travel guide books. Packed with highly researched information, if you've been a fan of traditional guide books this site will probably have what you are looking for. 

Hostel World

Hostel World is the go-to site for booking hostel accommodation. Intuitive and easy to use. Hostels have both private rooms and dorm style rooms. Dorms can be anywhere from 4 beds to 24 beds. The biggest shared rooms are usually all bunk beds. It's kind of like camp. It can be super fun if you are looking to meet fellow travelers and each hostel has their own vibe: party, quiet, big on activities etc. Be sure to read reviews and info to find a hostel that matches what you're going for. Some include free meals and group events. They almost always have a communal kitchen for use. The large dormitory beds are certainly the cheapest accommodation option for budget travelers. Just be smart about your stuff as you will be sharing a room with many strangers.

Hotels.com

Yep, I use this. It's great for finding cheap hotel deals and booking on the spot. You can modify the search results to list by price or rating. They also have special deals by destination and can do flights and car rentals as well. Often, the bookings will have free cancelation up until the day before. I've only used it state-side, but I know it can be used internationally. 

Let's Go!

Let's Go! is primarily for student travelers going to Europe. They are all about finding deals and ideal destinations for students. Plenty of their recommendations apply to any budget traveler, but this one is billed as For Students, By Students. If that applies to you- check out their site for great guides and blog posts about traveling around Europe.

Lonely Planet

Ah, the famous Lonely Planet guide books: Now as an incredibly thorough travel website! They have all of their guide books for sale on the website, but the site itself has tons of information via it's numerous advice articles. It also has direct searches for flights, accommodations, tours etc. It has categories such as Beaches, Budget Travel, their Thorn Tree travel forum, and by destination country.

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That's what I have for now. I'm sure I'm missing some. If you have any sites you think I should include please let me know! I will periodically update this list as I learn about new sites or remember anything I'm forgetting.

I should probably also mention many of the classic airfare and accommodation sites that I assume most people are familiar with, but just in case:

Expedia, Kayak, Orbitz, PricelineTravelocity, or any airline's own website.

Personally, I use Kayak and Expedia to check airfare a lot. I use Priceline sometimes, especially if I'm wanting to do their Name Your Own Price deal, which is cool. Before using Name Your Own Price, do your research so you know what a good deal is, because by doing Name Your Own Price you are agreeing to purchase if they match your request. Don't forget about going direct to the airline for discount companies such as Southwest. Also, try the airline's website for any airline you have a miles reward program with to see what they can offer you.

Happy traveling!!

The Halfway Point

After Pittsburgh, I drove to Chicago to spend the night at my cousin's house. 

The most important factoid from that drive that I can share with all of you future roadtrippers is that there are a ton of tolls. A truly astonishing amount of tolls. Bring CASH*!

Seriously. Bring a ton of cash.

(*To be clear, you can pay with a credit card at the major tolls on the tollways, I believe, but it takes extra time and the lines are longer. Bring cash. Of course if you have an i-PASS the whole thing is infinitely quicker, but what out-of-towner has an i-PASS?! An i-PASS is a different system than an EZ-PASS.)

Also, bring a ton of coins.

When you get to Illinois, there are a bunch of small tolls when exiting highways that require coins only. The issue is that the toll is not 25 cents or something, it's between $1-2. Which can burn through a lot of change if you didn't come prepared. I did not come prepared. 

They do offer the possibility of paying online afterwards. The way it works is if you come to a toll and do not have the required coinage, continue on through. You then have 7 days to go online to illinoistollway.com and pay your toll. It's a huge pain in the butt, since you have to remember/figure out what street you exited in order to know what toll to pay. Let me clarify this annoying situation: The system expects YOU to tell IT which toll you missed. 

For a roadtripper from elsewhere, this was confusing as crap since I did not expect this. So helpful hint: make note of the exact highway exit toll you missed. 

Once I actually got to my cousin's house, I had a lovely time relaxing with some food and wine while watching the World Cup. 

Chicago hospitality, courtesy of my sweet cousin Angela.

Chicago hospitality, courtesy of my sweet cousin Angela.

My cousin is incredibly sweet and even created a travel bag of goodies for me, including a CD with some excellent road trip tunes.

After leaving Chicago, I got back on the tollway (through a coins-only entrance, of course) and continued on to Denver, CO.

In Denver, I picked up my bestie Carmella from the airport, who had flown in from Cali to accompany me and share in the road trip fun.

A word about Denver International Airport: it is crazy large and as such, ridiculously confusing. I ended up having to do four (4!) loops out and around through the pick up area before Carmella and I managed to be on the same level at the same time. Before you think that we are idiots, the levels are not labeled and the same airlines are listed on multiple levels. The whole thing is bonkers.

Once we finally made contact, we drove out to meet my good friends from Maryland, Sarah and Dave, who just so happened to be in town for a wedding and housesitting the same weekend that I was passing through! They asked their friends, whom they were housesitting for, if it would be alright if Carmella and I crashed at their house for 2 nights, and they kindly said, "Sure!"

So once again, I was treated to free lodging!

Fun factoid about Denver: it is nicknamed MENver for its abundance of single, manly mountain men. Supposedly, the ratio of Men:Women is the highest in Denver at 3:1. I'm not sure if the latest statistics still support this, but there sure seems to be an abundance of fine-lookin' lads in Denver. 

Denver is a cute city, but it is not the mountainous landscape I was expecting. Therefore, we ventured out to Boulder where we were promised to find the classic mountain beauty I was looking for.

The canyon drive was spectacular and definitely the highlight from our Denver/Boulder time. I highly recommend driving the canyon and getting the opportunity to stare in wonderment at Mother Earth.

Denver also has a pretty good food scene and Dave, being a fellow foodie, knew where to go.

One of the food highlights was brunch at Snooze, where we were treated to truly amazing pancakes.

Snooze Pancakes

Snooze has an assortment of different types of pancakes- I got one Sweet Potato, Pineapple Upside-Down and Banana-Nutella. So. Frickin'. Good.

After departing Denver, we headed west to Grand Junction, CO to stay with Laken, my good friend from my time in New Zealand.

Before arriving in Grand Junction we stopped off in Vail. Vail in summer, of course, is in its off season, but since Vail is such a famous location it seemed like as good a place as any to make a rest stop. We didn't spend much time in the ski town, but we did walk around and grab some coffee. It is clearly a very charming town and I can easily picture the well-to-do inhabitants filling the streets sporting fashionable winter-wear and high-end ski equipment.

Vail

After departing Vail, we continued on to Grand Junction.

Grand Junction is a quaint small town, located in the high dessert at the very western side of Colorado. GJ has a charming main street that is reminiscent of most typical small, sweet townships: strips of one-story boutiques and shops that are pedestrian friendly and safe.

Laken's house is incredibly cute with a huge cherry tree in the back yard, of which we availed ourselves of its fruit.

Catching up with Laken, whom I hadn't seen in several years, was an absolute joy. We laughed and recounted old stories from trekking around New Zealand and the various shenanigans we got into.

There are few things that I enjoy more than sharing laughter, stories and ideas with friends all over the globe.

The next morning, Carmella and I packed up our things and headed towards Arizona to begin the desert adventure part of our expedition.

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Katie Dawn Habib

Katie Dawn Habib is a Holistic Nutrition Coach with a M.S. in Nutrition and Integrative Health. By combining her nutrition knowledge with a love of writing, Katie created her own website, The Hungry Gypsy, where she talks about food, nutrition, wellness and travel. On her site you can also find information about her nutrition coaching practice and join in on the conversations. Katie would like to contribute in some small way to global healing and help her clients and readers feel inspired.