Whether you’re still dreaming about your next trip or actively planning it, using the right tools and gear can save you time and money, and keep you safe!
Over the past few years, I’ve really honed my travel planning and packing processes to find reliable products and service providers that make travel easier and cheaper.
From organizing flights and hotels to what I put in my bags, the following are some of my favorite travel tools and products. I hope they will be as useful to you as they are for me!
Note: This page contains affiliate links. If you make a purchase, I may earn a small commission at no extra cost to you. That said, I promise I’m recommending these services because I use them, trust them, and I believe they are of value to you!
Skyscanner allows you to search an entire month to discover which days will be the cheapest to travel.
If you don’t know where you want to go, you can select “anywhere” and Skyscanner will find the lowest airfares to destinations around the world for you to choose from. If there’s a destination you want to keep your eye on you can also sign up for email alerts and Skyscanner will send notifications of price changes right to your inbox. Pretty handy right?
I’ve used Expedia for rental cars and hotels as well as flights, and I find they often have the lowest rates. The search functionality isn’t quite as flexible as Skyscanner’s, but I still find this site easy to use.
I mostly use Expedia for booking hotels and rental cars, but sometimes it can help save you money if you bundle flights in as well. I always suggest comparing rates across Expedia, Booking, and Skyscanner before making a final decision.
I’ve become a big fan of Airbnb over the past few years. It’s an especially good option when you’re traveling in a group because you can save quite a bit of money by sharing one unit, rather than paying for extra guests in a hotel room. It’s also great for longer stays. Many hosts offer generous discounts for reservations of a week or more.
Airbnb offers the opportunity to live like a local in an unfamiliar city. It’s nice to arrive to a “homey” space, rather than a generic hotel room! Not to mention, many Airbnbs come with perks like a kitchen, bicycles, kayaks, and more, depending on where you are!
If you’re new to Airbnb, use this link to receive a $40 travel credit on your first reservation!
A rental car offers a great way to explore lesser-known and harder-to-reach destinations within Mexico. It will also allow you full control over your schedule! DiscoverCars.com searches across a myriad of rental car providers to show you the best deals.
The prices display the full rate, including any extra fees that some search engines leave out. This makes it easy to find the best rates on rental cars without unpleasant surprises when you reach the rental counter.
In the unlikely event that you’re unfamiliar, Uber is a ride-share service (aka taxi alternative) that you request via an app on your phone. It’s popular in most US cities, and many cities in Mexico as well.
With Uber there’s no need to carry cash; all payment occurs virtually through the app. There’s also no bartering over prices because they’re set within the app and you are given an estimate before requesting the ride. In Mexico City, Uber is almost always cheaper than taxis, and the cars are much newer and more comfortable.
New to Uber? Get your first ride free with this code: janined407ue
Travel insurance is a must when you’re outside of your home country. You never know what could happen and it’s always best to be prepared. World Nomads offers a wide range of coverage for everything from trip interruption, theft, medical, and dental.
Depending on your travel style, a VPN may be of interest to you. A VPN masks your IP address and browsing information to protect you from threats online. They are especially important when using a public WiFi connection. If you’ll be doing any banking, making online purchases (such as travel reservations), or sharing anything at all that you wouldn’t want to be accessed by strangers, a VPN will protect you.
As someone who frequently works from coffee shops, I use NordVPN all the time to protect my connection. It’s inexpensive, easy to install, and gives me peace of mind.
My microfiber towel from PackTowl has been one of my favorite purchases and I go almost everywhere with it. It’s lightweight and compact and it dries super fast. It comes in a neat little carry pouch, making it easy to pack.
I often use it as a pillow, a blanket, and, of course, for a beach towel. If you’re headed somewhere that you are confident will provide towels (like a resort) you may not need a travel towel, but otherwise, it’s really nice to have.
A reusable water bottle is a must for Mexico. Since the tap water isn’t potable in most parts of the country, locals rely on bottled water. If you carry a reusable bottle you’ll be able to refill it from the 5-gallon jugs (called garrafones) found in your accommodation. Otherwise, you’ll be stuck purchasing single-use bottles as you go. For this reason, I carry a HydroFlask with me everywhere.
A reusable shopping bag has all kinds of practical applications while traveling in Mexico. For one, it helps you avoid single-use plastic bags from grocery stores and market stalls. It can also handy to use as a beach carry-all, a laundry bag, or as a way to carry on the souvenirs that you can’t fit in your suitcase on your way home.
Any reusable bag will do, but my favorite is my Baggu bag. It’s super strong and folds down into a small pouch that I can stick in my purse or backpack when I’m out and about.
I highly recommend carrying an anti-theft purse while traveling. It will give you so much peace of mind knowing that your valuables are protected while you’re out and about, especially if you’re a solo traveler.
I have a Travelon Hobo Crossbody bag and, while I don’t always use all the anti-theft features, I do when I’m in crowded spaces or big cities (especially Mexico City). If an anti-theft purse isn’t in your budget at the moment, at minimum carry a crossbody bag as it will be much harder for someone to snatch it away from you.
A portable battery charger is super handy for keeping your devices charged. You may not need it every day of your trip, but it’s good to have on hand for travel days.
Keeping your phone battery charged enables you to make reservations on the go, use Google translate, and track your location. For solo travelers, a portable power bank ensures your phone battery is charged so you can call for help if needed.
Browse my collection of packing posts for tips and advice related to your chosen destination or travel style.