There are lots of great travel blogs out there with long lists of websites, apps, gear, etc. I’ll include links to these sites as a reference. But, I’ll start with a few of my personal favorite online tools and resources that I use for planning my adventures.
This is my primary online tool for booking accommodations. I prefer it to Booking.com and AirBnb, mainly because of the loyalty program. Hotels.com offers a free night stay for every 10 nights booked! For a person who travels as much as I do, that’s a pretty good deal. And that’s on top of 8% - 10% coupons periodically.
Hotels.com is easy to use from my computer or iPhone. I usually search by city and date, and then go to “map view” to find places in the desired part of the city.
In case you haven’t realized, I’ve chosen SquareSpace as the web platform for this website. I found SquareSpace very user-friendly for my entry-level skills at website development. SquareSpace doesn’t offer the flexibility that WordPress has, but that’s ok for my purposes. My initial site was up and running within a matter of days. Then I gradually added to it as I figured things out. (I still have a long way to go!)
I’m now on the second iteration of www.dannyboytravels.com, using a new template from SquareSpace. The first version of my site was up for over 3 years and certainly suited my needs for just basic journaling of my adventures.
Travel insurance is something I’ve purchased more recently in my travels, in addition to my normal medical, dental, and vision insurance. Travel insurance is inexpensive, temporary, and very customizable. Squaremouth provides a marketplace for reviewing insurance providers and plans.
I don’t have an international cell phone plane. Instead, I subscribe to Skype for $13 USD per month, which enables me to make unlimited phone calls over WIFI. This is very convenient (and usually great quality) as long as WIFI is available (which is more and more the case these days). Obviously, if I’m walking around the streets and need to call a taxi or something, it doesn’t work. But most of my calls are to handle “administrative” issues (e.g., bills, banking, etc.) back home in the USA, which I can usually tackle from my hotel room or cafe, with WIFI.
I have had some extraordinary experiences volunteering for families in Chile, Thailand, and even California! How do I find these opportunities? I use HelpExchange (www.helpx.net) which acts a sort of match-making service for “hosts” (people who need help with their business, farm, or household) and “helpers” (people who are willing to help out). Be sure to check local visa requirements.
If you want to learn to sail, whether as a weekend hobby or as preparation for travel adventures, I highly recommend the OCSC Sailing School. Based in Berkeley, California, the school offers the opportunity to learn in the challenging waters of San Francisco Bay. Big wind, heavy traffic, strong currents, obscuring fog. Some say that if you can sail in San Francisco Bay, you can sail anywhere. Plus, OCSC has some of the finest instructors in the country! :-)