Below are some links to resources, software, and tech gear we found useful as digital nomad types and long-term travellers. From searching for the best flights and accommodation, our favourite tech gear, and helpful and inspiring websites: from our rabbit hole to yours.
Travel research and booking
To find the best flights, I check all of these sites and set up travel alerts. After I see some good options, I check the airline websites, often booking directly with the airline if possible. Remember to take into account the cost of add-ons, as that amazing deal you found isn’t quite so sweet when you have to pay to check bags. And be sure to use a credit card that includes coverage for lost or stolen luggage and cancelled flights. Take it from me.
- Fare Detective: See cost trends and search multiple booking sites at once. If you’re flexible, you can consistently find the cheapest flights here.
- Google Flights: Sign in with your Google account and track prices. See the cost trends for your destination and when it might be a good idea to change your dates. Set up handy travel alerts too.
- Momondo: aggregate search engine and booking site
- SeatGuru: find out where the best seats are located on any aircraft, any airline
- Rome2Rio: a transportation search engine that tells you how to get from Point A to Point B by any means. Except donkey.
- Get by Bus: an aggregate online booking site for bus travel throughout Europe. It worked very well for us in Croatia, even when I had to make changes. Excellent customer service–better than in person at the bus station.
- Uber: We used Uber and Grab extensively in Malaysia and Uber a little bit in Croatia. We were always impressed by the level of service, the quality of vehicles and the price. Drivers were very friendly, helpful and always willing to share their insights about their country–the good and the bad.
- Two Together Railcard (UK): For 30 GBP a year, get up to 1/3 off rail fares for couples, family members, or friends travelling together. There are also special offers for attractions and accommodation.
- Trip Advisor: I don’t book through TA but I use it to find recommendations for things like restaurants, spas and hair salons, taxi drivers, and shopping. I also take all reviews with a grain of salt. One person’s fabulous experience is another’s nightmare.
- Airbnb: If we aren’t house sitting (see below), this is our go-to for accommodation. We usually book for one week and if we like it, we book by the month. We’ve had discounts of up to 40% for stays of a month or longer. However, we have also made deals with hosts outside of the platform for long-term stays. Just saying.
- Agoda.com, part of Booking.com: I use both for when Airbnb isn’t an option.
- Trusted Housesitters: This is one of the most popular house and pet sitting membership websites. It has loads of listings, but also has the most competition for the choicest sits. We were able to get our first sit with references from previous experiences pet sitting for friends and family, along with a kickass profile. We were in the right place at the right time to score a wonderful pet sit in Penang, Malaysia. Since then we have done back-to-back month long sits in England, and heading back for more. It’s a fantastic way to stay in a comfortable home environment at no cost and get your furry creature fix at the same time. We also joined House Carers, Nomador, House Sit Mexico and Housesitters Canada, but mainly we use TH.
Use this link to get my “Refer a Friend” discount for 25% off a membership with Trusted Housesitters.
- Plug adapters
- 2 power bars (multi-plugs)
- 2TB external drive
- ChargeTech portable chargers: We travel with two of these babies. They’re the size of a book and can charge a laptop and phone at the same time. They’re indispensable for those extended power outages in Tanzania, and also when there just isn’t a plug outlet close by, like on the verandah next to the hammock. 😉
- Harmon Kardon bluetooth speaker: This is the size of a paperback book. Not only is it great for music, but also to plug into the laptop for good sound when watching movies.
- Tablets: Besides our smartphones and laptops, I have an iPad mini and Shaun has a Samsung 9-inch tablet. They’re perfect for watching movies on the plane, or reading or just about anything. I also have a bright orange mini bluetooth keyboard meant for a phone or tablet. I was about to ditch it because I wasn’t using it, and it was another thing to lug without purpose. But now I’ve lost the USB plug to my proper Logitech keyboard that I prefer to use. I may use the little orange keyboard yet.
- Kindle e-reader: I’m very attached to my old Kindle. I love having a buffet of books at my fingertips, and it’s easier on the eyes than reading from the phone or tablet. Unfortunately, Shaun lost his Kindle somewhere between Tanzania and Cambodia. He was gutted and finally replaced it when we landed back in England.
- Google Chromecast: plug the dongle into the HDMI port on the back of the TV, install the Chromecast App on any device, and you can stream content from loads of mobile apps like Netflix, Youtube, and much more.
- Camera: For now, I just have an easy point n’ shoot, an older model Nikon Coolpix P530 with 42X wide zoom. And even so, I get lazy and use the camera on my phone more often than not. Someday…
- Luci Lantern: This is a super little portable light for power outages, or simply to use when there are no proper bedside lamps. Solar powered, they’re also great for backpacking because they squish flat and are inflatable and waterproof.
- LED headlamps: For reading in bed or rummaging through your pack, so portable and hands-free, we can’t live without these.
- Coffee press: An indispensable piece of kit for us coffee lovers, until it got stolen. (I’ll tell you the saga of Shaun’s lost luggage sometime.) We had a gorgeous double-walled stainless steel press typically used at safari camps in Africa. Oh well. It was too heavy to keep lugging around anyway. I’ve met other long-term travellers who always carry special tea or coffee making paraphernalia so we’re not alone here. We bought a small coffee press in Albania, but we’ve also learned how to make “camp coffee”, or the way many folks in Europe do: using only a small pot with pouring spout. Simple.
Software and apps
- Virtual Private Network (VPN) subscription: encrypts your connection to protect your privacy and identity if you have to use public Wifi, or even if you don’t. I subscribe to Private Internet Access (PIA) VPN service provider.
- Skype: I have a paid subscription so I can call landlines or mobiles in Canada for CHEAP. Skype numbers aren’t available in Canada yet, so I’m considering purchasing a US number. Then I can give out one phone number rather than ask everyone to keep track of a new number for every country.
- FlyNumber: In the meantime, I found this option to purchase a Canadian phone number so at least I have one to give to banks and such that need a Canadian number on file. You can set it up for forwarding to a VOIP service (except for Skype) but it’s complicated. I only have it set to forward to voice mail, but I receive messages instantly as an audio file via email. So far it’s not capable of receiving SMS messages, which is a bit inconvenient as many systems need to verify your phone number this way.
- LastPass: free online password manager
- Protonmail: free encrypted email account for sending or receiving sensitive information. My bank recommended it as a secure way to receive verification codes since they usually won’t send those to an overseas number.
- Spotify: Now that internet speeds most everywhere are fast enough for streaming, having a massive selection of music at hand helps create a homey atmosphere or starts a party anywhere. As it’s not available in quite every country, subscribe to it before you leave home, then access through a VPN server based in your home country.
- Netflix: Comfort food for travellers. Yes, sometimes you just need to shut the world out, no matter how exotic, and binge-watch House of Cards.
- Simple Currency: This is the currency converter for Android OS that I use, but there are so many to choose from.
- Google Translate: It’s not perfect, but it helps.
- WhatsApp: This is my go-to for calling, messaging, and sending quick photos. Practically everyone we’ve met on our travels uses it, and for communicating with drivers and Airbnb hosts, it’s been essential. I like the ability to access it on my laptop too.
- Smart Doc Scanner: This is a handy app to snap a photo of that important paper document to save as a PDF to your files or send it to someone.
- World Nomads Travel insurance: We’ve used other providers, but went back to World Nomads for their ease of use, flexibility to renew, and comprehensive coverage. DO NOT travel without emergency medical coverage. Period.
- Yoga mat: Shaun can’t survive all the back crunching sitting he has to do without regular yoga so this was non-negotiable. We started out with one mat each, but had to leave one behind so I just use his.
- Good quality waterproof sunscreen: This is crazy expensive in many places and the quality can be iffy, especially for the intense tropical sun. Don’t cheap out. Check out Riemann P20 SPF30 on Amazon. Highly recommended.
Websites & Blogs
These are websites that help inform our travels and our lifestyle in general. This is just a taster mind you, as I’m a certified information hoarder and research addict. To avoid overwhelm I’ve narrowed it down to these. For now.
- Numbeo: A crowdsourced website that lists average costs for everything from rent, to a pair of jeans, to a cappuccino in most any country and most any city, using NYC as a benchmark.
- NomadList: Similar to Numbeo, but specifically geared to digital nomads
- Nomadic Matt: See how a pro does it
- Goats on the Road and The Planet D: fellow Canucks who are really rocking the travel blogosphere and showing us mortals how it’s done
- Cheapest Destinations
- Afford Anything
- Mr. Money Moustache: “Financial freedom through badassity”
- House Sitting Magazine
Safari njema/Happy travels!