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.
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.
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.
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.
Gate1 Travel – This was our group’s hands-down favorite tour company and everyone who has used them raved about this company.
Travel Zoo – This is a fabulous online booking site if you’re looking for the best deals on tours. One of our good friends travels extensively and absolutely swears by it.
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.
Hop on Hop off Buses – 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.
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.
Magellan’s – This online shopping site features travel clothing, bags, wallets, luggage, travel accessories, electronics, all-weather gear, organizers, and other knickknacks for your traveling comfort.
Eagle Creek – This is a cool site for luggage, duffels, backpacks, purses, travel accessories, organizers. Check out their pack-it specter bags. You can use them to fold up all your clothes into a nylon envelope to save massive space in your suitcase.
Kipling – Another excellent online shopping site for handbags, backpacks, totes, luggage, travel accessories. Elisa says it’s her favorite site for travel gear.
Shouldit Infinity Scarves with zippered pocket – Want a light and fashionable way to safely hide your passport, money, and other valuables? These light and beautiful infinity scarves have a built-in zipper that will keep your valuables hidden and leave your hands free.
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.
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Homing Pin – Get your lost property back fast. A homing pin kit comes with baggage loops, tags, key rings and stickers coded to use on mobile phones, Ipads, laptops, passports, wallets, bikes, and other valuables. If something goes missing and someone else finds them, they can go to homingpin.com or an airport’s WorldTracer system and enter the code so you’ll be alerted that it’s been found.
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.
Cabeau travel pillows – Cabeau’s super soft travel pillow is made with memory foam so they conform to your neck and won’t push your head forward. They have removable covers for easy washing and shrink down to ¼ of their size so you can easily store them.
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.
Light-weight camera – I personally love this 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 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.