I love to find venues where I can hook up with travelers and learn from them. One group, I’m involved with is a Los Angeles travel meetup group. It’s led by a woman who has traveled to 85 countries, mostly by herself. At our last meetup, we talked about where we’ve been, where we’d like to go next and then she gave us tips and suggestions for best travel gear and online booking sites.
Some of the countries she’s traveled to are places I would never have thought to visit like living in a leech-infested hut in Rwanda or a remote spot in Mali. She’s pretty adventurous, over 50, and hasn’t stopped traveling yet.
I wanted to share some of the recommendations she and our group of world travelers discussed.
When we were asked what some of our favorite online booking sites for flights were, here’s what our group came up with. And remember, you can get great deals on flights, hotels, and more when you save up your points and take advantage of senior discounts.
Travelocity – Well, we all know it’s the official travel booking site for “The Amazing Race.” Their motto is “travel wisely.” You can also find deals on hotels, cruises, car rentals, and vacation packages.
CheapOair – This is an independently owned company. They are more competitive for international flights rather than domestic and you can find great deals. They also offer hotels, cars, cruises and vacation packages.
Google Flights – Not surprisingly, Google’s search engine finds excellent prices on flights.
Expedia – This site searches millions of flights as well as hotels, car rentals, cruises, and vacation packages. They have a price guarantee and no Expedia cancellation fee if you have to cancel your hotel reservations.
Kayak – This site also searches hundreds of airlines at once and helps you find deals on hotels and rental cars.
Don’t wait in line!
Best online travel sites to find hotels
The top of the list in our group is TripAdvisor – It’s the best online travel site to get feedback from travelers who have been to a destination and experienced it first hand. I rely on it heavily to look for ideas for hotels, places to eat, and activities when I’m planning a vacation. You can now book hotels and vacation rentals directly on TripAdvisor and it will usually give you outstanding rates.
Hotels.com – Several people in the group recommended Hotels.com because it’s the premier site to find hotels anywhere around the world. You might want to compare it with TripAdvisor and see what you come up with.
Booking.com – The same goes for Booking.com – It’s owned by the Priceline group but offers a wider selection of options and it’s easy to navigate. You can plan your entire trip on it because it also includes flights, cars, trains, buses, and business apartments.
Gate1 Travel – This was our group’s hands-down favorite tour company and everyone who has used them raved about this company.
Country Walkers – Love seeing nature and walks in the countryside? You can find walking tours all over the world and enjoy them at your own pace. Some tours are guided and others are self-guided. Walk a few miles a day or find longer treks depending on your preferences.
Viator – You can always search for tours practically anywhere you want to go on Viator.
Big Bus Tour – Walking is wonderful but sometimes it’s easier and less time intensive to take a bus. We adored our Big Bus Tour in London and took advantage of the Hop on Hop off bus while we were in Rome.
Rail Europe – The best way to travel through Europe is on a train. It makes life so easy! If you book a high-speed train it will take you where you want to go in much less time and it’s so comfortable.
Auto Europe – This site offers the best auto rates in Europe. It’s been around for 60-years and has partnerships with all the most reputable car rental companies. If you find a lower car rate, they will lower their rates to beat the price. They also have a 24/7 Service Hotline – Available from Pick-Up to Drop-Off and over 20,000 convenient pickup/dropoff locations throughout Europe.
Best Travel Gear
Our meetup organizer, Elisa, haunts the 99cent Store and often finds amazing (and super cheap) items to use on her trips. She buys lightweight rubber placemats there to use for wrapping breakable items she purchases on her trips. They also have infinity scarves made out of microfiber that can double as a face mask (to avoid germs) or can be used as a quick drying towel. Dollar stores are also the cheapest places to shop for travel bottles, plastic bags, and sample size products.
If you’re looking for luggage, Ebags is a fabulous online shopping site for name brands at the best prices. They have a wide range of nifty travel accessories that include purses, backpacks, organizers, packing cubes, RFID bags (to protect your credit cards) and other travel accessories.
Packing cubes come in all sizes including long, which are great for undies, socks, bras, bathing suits, etc. Compression packing cubes will decrease the space you use in your suitcase and keep your clothes from wrinkling.
Scarves.com – has a wide variety of scarves for every type of weather that are fashionable and fun, including infinity scarves.
Zappos Travel Page – Travel-Friendly Clothing, Shoes, Accessories, and More
Clark’s Shoes – The ultimate in comfort and class for the stylish traveler who doesn’t want sore feet. They are like walking on clouds.
Tom’s Shoes – Tom’s is known for its casual slip-on canvas shoes and is perfect to wear going through security and on a plane. It’s a give-back company as well. Proceeds from sales go to designated charities.
You may also enjoy:
Inflatable footrest – If you have trouble with edema on flights, like many of us over 50 do, don’t forget to bring along an inflatable footrest. This puts your feet in a more comfortable and healthy position especially if you’re on an overseas flight.
Light slippers to wear on the plane – Take your shoes off on a long flight, put on some comfy socks and relax. Then, easily slip on light slippers when you have to go to the restroom to protect your feet from germs. This will help keep your feet from swelling up and protect your health.
TRTL Super Soft Neck Support Travel Pillow – This is amazing! It doesn’t shove your neck forward and you can wrap it on either side of your neck. Plus, it’s super soft.
Waterbag to protect electronics – If you’re going to be in rain, are river rafting or anywhere you can get splashed, make sure to store your camera, cell phone, and other electronics in a plastic water bag that won’t leak. Elisa found one at the 99cent store that works perfectly, but you can also try this Waterbag set on Amazon.
I personally love my Canon Powershot camera because it’s affordable, light-weight (so it doesn’t strain your neck) and easy to use on auto. It also has a killer zoom lens that you can’t get on a smartphone.
I hope you enjoyed these tips for the best travel gear and online booking sites. If you have travel gear and online booking site recommendations of your own to share, please leave a comment below.