travel essentials

Me and my J-Pillow.

I’ve travelled extensively around the world and over the years, I’ve used many travel planning resources, products and services. This page features a list of travel products and services I highly recommend – tried and tested – to ease your travel planning process and ensure a safe and comfortable trip.

Note: this page contains affiliate links to services and products. This means that I’ll earn a small commission for any purchase made via these links, at no extra cost to you. These commissions help me to maintain my blog and they contribute to my travels, so if you’re purchasing something, THANK YOU! Get in touch if you have any questions.

Travel planning resources

Accommodations

I use Booking.com regularly to search for and book accommodations. I’ve used various booking engines and I still find Booking.com the best in terms of how comprehensive their coverage is and ease of booking.



Booking.com

Flights

When it comes to finding flights and comparing prices, I head straight to Skyscanner. Compare prices on flights with Skyscanner.


Car hire

Find and compare prices for car hire at locations around the world with Rentalcars Connect.

Airport transfers

If I’m visiting a place I’m not familiar with, I often book an airport transfer in advance, just to be on the safe side. If you choose not to arrange an airport transfer in advance, beware of touts at the airport and only choose the official taxi companies (or Uber/Grab, if available). Book your airport transfer with Taxi2Airport.

Tours, tickets to attractions & activities

If there’s a tour I’m particularly interested in or a specific attraction I’d like to visit, I often book this in advance to avoid disappointment or long queues. GetYourGuide offers tens of thousands of tours around the world, including fast-track access to the biggest attractions. Find your tours on GetYourGuide.

Visas

Before you travel, check the validity of your passport (the general rule is that it should have a validity of at least six months). Find out if visas are required for the countries you’re visiting. If you require a visa, one service I’ve used before is iVisa.com. You can easily check for the visa requirements and apply online for a visa.

iVisa.com

Travel insurance

Travel insurance is a must in my book. I have a pretty comprehensive travel insurance which is valid year-round and automatically renews. I’ve added various temporary options to my insurance plan on various occasions, such as during my round-the-world trip and for trips with sports/adventure activities like winter sports and sky-diving. World Nomads offers a broad range of plans for short and longer term travel for all types of travellers.

Taxis

I use two taxi apps: Uber and Grab. Both offer (generally) reliable and economical service. I use Uber throughout Europe, North/South America and South Africa. I use Grab primarily in Southeast Asia. Sign up for Uber now and receive a €5 credit on your next ride.

Stay connected

flexiroam-microchip-photo

Sticking the FlexiroamX microchip onto my home SIM card.

International data roaming plans can be pricey, using a local/global SIM card involves switching SIM cards in your phone (with the added risk of misplacing your home SIM card, something that’s happened to me twice!) and local wifi hotspots can be patchy and unsecured. I’ve used a variety of solutions, including purchasing local SIM cards and carrying mobile WIFI devices. One solution I started using a while back is FlexiroamX which works as a microchip stuck on your home SIM card. It’s easy, convenient and offers coverage in 100+ countries.

Read my review of FlexiroamX.

Essential travel accessories & tools

Sleeping well

I often have trouble sleeping well on a plane, especially when I fly in Economy Class. That changed when I discovered the J Pillow. This soft but sturdy pillow provides great support for my neck and keeps my chin from tipping over when I fall asleep. Read my J Pillow review.

Another accessory that helps me to sleep well on a plane is a set of Bose Noise-cancelling headphones (combined with my J Pillow and an eye mask). These excellent headphones provide unrivalled audio quality for the inflight entertainment system and cancels out  noise when I want to sleep. They fit comfortably around my ears and they’re easy to carry in my hand luggage.

 

Navigation

If you don’t have Google Maps on your phone yet, get it! I use it everywhere I go to find my way around, look up ideas and reviews for attractions, restaurants, bars, and timings for public transport. Another handy navigation app is Waze.

Languages

Another Google app I use often is Translate. I especially like the camera function which automatically translates text on menus, letters, etc.. directly on your phone screen. Simply turn on the camera function, point your phone at the text and the translation appears on your screen!

Currency exchange rates

I use the XE app for all my currency exchange rate information.

Weather

My preferred weather app is AccuWeather.

Back-up your photos and videos

I back-up my photos and videos as soon as they’re created to avoid losing them if anything should happen to my mobile phone or camera. There are various cloud storage options and one of them I use is Dropbox. If you haven’t yet signed up for Dropbox, sign up here and receive a 500MB bonus.

Send and receive money cheaply

Send and receive money quickly and cheaply using TransferWise. I use it often to send or receive money from family or friends. Transferwise currency exchange rates are fair (mid-market with no mark-ups) and their transfer fees are very low. Furthermore, the transactions are processed just as quickly as other more costly channels. Sign up for TransferWise and pay zero fees for your first money transfer (up to €500).

Travel tips and advice on Velvet Escape

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