House Sitting: How to Get Free Housing Anywhere

By Sara | September 20, 2016

We just wrapped up a two week stay in southern Spain. Our days were filled with puppy kisses, long breakfasts, and nightly sunsets over a stunning view. The best part? All of it was free, thanks to house sitting. If you’re wondering how we scored such an awesome place on a travelers budget, and are interested in learning how to get free housing, read on!

What is House Sitting?

For many travelers, finding affordable accommodation can be difficult. Staying in hostels and using websites like Airbnb and HostelWorld can certainly lower the cost of accommodation abroad, but for those looking for free housing, there’s another option: housesitting.

We signed up with Trusted House Sitters at the beginning of our trip, and have used it several times throughout our European travels. The setup is simple: Home owners who plan to be away for an extended period of time list their home on a house sitting website, and travelers who need a place to stay apply for the job. Home sits vary in responsibilities but typically include locking up the house each night, maintaining the landscape of yards, and caring for any pets that homeowners have. In exchange for looking after a house, travelers receive free housing.

How Does it Work?

To apply for a house sit, travelers should first choose which site they’d like to go with. There a number of options at the bottom of this post that have good reputations, and we personally use Trusted House Sitters. Most house sitting websites have an initial sign up fee, but this pays for itself after two to three nights of house sitting, and is well worth the cost.

After signing up, fill in all the applicable profile details to show home owners who you are and what you can offer. If you have anyone willing to write you a review from previous experience, this is very helpful and should be added as soon as possible.

Once your profile is live, start applying for house sits! Make sure that each email is unique and clearly says who you are, what you can offer to the particular sit, and what experience you have that makes you the perfect fit. If it helps, think of each message like a job application. We’ve included additional tips and tricks to land your first sit below.

Landing Your First House Sit

1. Sign Up For Emails and Apply Quickly

When you sign up, allow Trusted House Sitters, (or related site) to send you daily emails. These emails contain the most recently posted house sits, and you should apply for any that suit you immediately. Most house sitters choose their sitter out of the first few people that apply, so it’s important to have your profile in that bunch.

2. Be Flexible

When it comes to applying for house sits in a certain location, it helps to be flexible. Most house sits aren’t in major cities, and the ones that are go incredibly fast. Try to be flexible with your location preferences to open a wider net of potential sits.

3. Practice Email Etiquette

Email etiquette is important, as this is the only impression outside of your profile that potential hosts will get of you before a Skype call. Double check for spelling and grammatical errors, include the names of the home owners and their pets in the email, and let your personality shine through in your writing. Imagine you are in a home owner’s shoes, about to leave your pets with a stranger. What would you want to see in an application message?

4. Have References

Having references on your profile boosts your chances of getting chosen immensely. Users gain references by completing house sits and having hosts write reviews for them on their profile. If you’re trying to get your first sit and find yourself getting declined even after following the rest of the above steps, try to get a reference another way. Most sites allow people to ask references about your work ethic, character, or past home and pet sitting experience outside of the platform. When we signed up, we asked our neighbor, whose dog we had watched several times, to write a review about our ability to care for pets. This review was enough to land our first house sit, and we’ve had no troubles since.

Which Site Should I Sign Up For?

The sites below are some of the best house sitting sites out there. Each of these sites has testimonials from travelers, and a decent variety of sits. Take a look and find one that suits you best.

1. Trusted House Sitters

  • World wide, most house sits are in the United States, Europe, and Australia.
  • Same cost for both home owners and sitters ($75 for 3 months, $120 for one year)
  • Take 20% off with this code

2. House Carers

  • World wide, most house sits are in the United States and Europe
  • Free for home owners, $50 per year for sitters

3. MindMyHouse

  • Smaller house sitting database, most house sits in the United States and Europe
  • Free for home owners, $20 per year for sitters

4. House Sit Match

  • Primarily caters to European House Sits
  • Free for home owners, has two membership levels (£35 and £75) per year for sitters

5. House Sitters America

  • Caters to United States House Sits
  • Free for home owners, $30 per year to be a sitter

6. Aussie House Sitters

  • Caters to Australian House Sits
  • Free for home owners, $65 per year to be a sitter

7. Luxury House Sitting

  • For luxury listings, smaller database
  • Free for home owners, $25 per year for sitters

House sitting is a great way to get free housing while exploring new places. It allows you to meet new people, see places you may not have otherwise, and often times, cuddle and play with adorable pets. Regardless of your motivation, house sitting is an experience worth looking into!

Some of the above links are affiliate links. This means that we make a small commission if you choose to sign up after clicking on some of the links in this post, at no extra cost to you.

How Traveling As A Couple Changed Our Relationship

By Sara | August 17, 2016

It’s been almost a year since Greg and I traded our Silicon Valley apartment for two backpacks and a pair of one way tickets. We left everything we knew and began an adventure that we knew would change our lives, but had no idea how much. Over the last eight months I’ve learned more about Greg, and he about me, than we knew was ever possible.

After spending a year and a half of our relationship doing long-distance, we thought that we’d talked through everything we could possibly talk through. Boy, were we wrong. The only thing harder than sustaining a long distance relationship is sustaining a 24/7 relationship.

We travel together, live together, explore together, and now work together. As two strong, opinionated individuals, this has not been without its struggles. Our relationship has changed and evolved and continues to do so as we travel and adapt to new ideas and surroundings. For all the traveling couples out there, we’d like to share some tips to keep things going smooth(ish) on the road.

1. Know When to Be a Best Friend

All that glitters is not gold, and all parts of travel are not watching sunrises from mountaintops. Traveling has its hardships, and having a best friend who is there no matter what is often times more helpful and beneficial than having a romantic connection. Know when to be the best friend cheering each other on and making each other laugh, and when to bring the romantic spark out.

2. Find Time For Romance

At the end of the day, though traveling is great, the relationship has to take priority. If you’re determined that you’re traveling with your forever person, your relationship needs to come before everything else. Make time for date nights once in a while, and don’t forget about the little things throughout the day; they make the biggest differences.

traveling as a couple

3. Apologize Often

When spending every single day with any person, whether it be a significant other, family member, or friend, eventually you’re going to step on each others toes. Greg and I have both had our fair share of moments when we said some things we shouldn’t have, or picked an argument that was pointless. Always remember to apologize and forgive as quickly as possible while still being genuine so you can move on and enjoy the rest of your day. We’re only human after all!

4. Eat Often

If I had a dime for how many arguments were started because one of us was hungry, tired, hot, or sore from carrying our backpacks, I’d buy a really big cup of cocoa. It’s never a good idea to argue or have an important conversation when one party is not on their ‘A-game’, so carry snacks and try to have big conversations after a nice meal.

5. Establish a Piece of Home

Whether traveling as a couple, solo, or in a group, there are going to be times that are difficult. Everybody misses home or the idea of home at some point, so establishing a sense of home in some small way can make the biggest difference.

When Greg and I travel, I bring store bought coffee grounds and make a cup for both of us every day. This way, no matter where we are in the world, our mornings start the same. Greg’s sense of home comes from his over-ear headphones, which was his “can’t leave without” item during packing. Having a small item or daily routine helps keep a sense of home while traveling.

traveling as a couple

6. Ask Yourself the “Is It” Questions

When frustrations arise, it’s easy to say what’s on your mind without thinking about how it may come across to the other person. After spending so much time together, couples may become too comfortable and say things on accident that are hurtful. Recently, we started working on a new thought process that’s been going well so far. Before speaking, we ask ourselves, a) Is it kind? b) Is it necessary? c) Will it add value to our relationship/project/etc? If the answer to these questions is no, don’t say it.

7. Share Common Goals

Traveling with someone who has drastically different goals than you will almost never work. Unless you find a way for your schedules and goals for travel to align, be prepared for a bumpy road. Figure out what works best for both of you in terms of when you go out, what you enjoy doing, and when you have work and relax days. Once this is established, everything will move more smoothly.

traveling as a couple post

8. Find Time For Yourself

At the end of the day, everyone needs some alone time. Greg and I learned that he enjoys experiencing nightlife, while I’m more of a PJ’s and Netflix kind of girl. We balance this by having Greg go out with travelers and explore the evening scene in different countries while I get some time to relax and just ‘be’. Everyone we’ve met handles alone time differently but agrees that it’s a crucial part to traveling as a couple. Don’t be afraid to take small breaks from each other!

9. Laugh A Lot

So many absurd, frustrating, surprising, crazy, and just “out-there” moments have happened during our travels, and we quickly learned that the only thing to do is laugh about it. As soon as we learned to make fun of ourselves (and each other) when things went wrong, traveling became even more fun. Take a breath, get some perspective, and just laugh!

traveling as a couple

10. Make New Friends

Whenever we meet other people traveling as a couple, Greg and I throw a mini geek fest. Making friends on the road is one of the coolest parts of travel, because you get to have a first hand look and fresh perspective into someone else’s way of living.

For those traveling as a couple, meeting other couple travelers is even better because of how many things you have in common right off the bat. It also gives you both space to hang out with someone new on your own. Don’t be afraid to attend events, walking tours, or online groups to meet new people on the road.

11. Never Stop Trying

Greg is a wise man, and my favorite belief that he holds, and that I share, is that any relationship can succeed if both parties commit to keep trying. This means from day one, both people are doing everything they can to be the best partner they can be. Both parties go out of their way to make the other smile, and both people never, ever stop trying, even when they’re mad, sad, upset, or hurt.

Even through our toughest times, which we’ve certainly had, Greg and I always come back to this point and it’s a big part of what has kept us going the last 4+ years.

12. Remember Why You Started

At the end of the day, there’s no right or wrong way to travel. There’s no blogger, traveler, YouTuber, or luxury vacationer who does it “better” than anyone else. Never forget that initial pull to see and experience the world, and how buying that first plane ticket was the best feeling in a long time. Remember why you decided to travel, and keep going until it feels right to come home.

Traveling as a couple is not easy. It tests relationships in ways I never thought possible and both parties need to be fully committed to making it work and embracing change. Traveling as a couple requires patience, forgiveness, and an understanding that travel changes everyone in different ways.

For those who can talk through the issues, forgive the mistakes, and make the most of the reality of life on the road, traveling together can change your relationship in so many positive ways and you’ll become a stronger couple than when you left home.

traveling as a couple post

**Photo Credit in this post goes to April Zelenka, who was so kind to meet up with us during her trip to Ireland to shoot these pictures at the Gap of Dunloe!**

The Worst Part Of Travel

By Sara | July 28, 2016

Traveling the world is a fantastic. Every day we get to meet new people, see new places, and learn new things. However, there are some down sides to long term travel that would-be travelers should know before considering a long term travel lifestyle.

1. Carrying Backpacks

This is right at the top of our list of the worst part of travel. Carrying backpacks to and from destinations is never fun, and at times is downright maddening. We’ve been stuck walking to the train station in pouring rain and sweltering heat. More than once, we’ve forgotten things and had to lug all of our packs back to our accommodation. We’ve had back pain, shoulder pain, and blistered feet from carrying heavy loads, and that’s with only carryon sized bags. Unless you’ve allocated a budget to take taxi’s to stations, carrying a backpack long distances is one of the worst parts of travel.

2. Getting Sick

There’s no getting around it, travel will make you sick. It will break down your body, test your mind, and expose you to a whole range of germs that you wouldn’t have met at home. Being sick on the road is not a fun experience but is an aspect that comes with long term travel.

3. Sleeping in Hostels

Sleeping in bunkbeds is never fun, but Airbnb’s aren’t the cheapest or best option in every city, even though we wish they were! This means that some, or most nights are spent sleeping in hostel rooms with 4 to 20 other people. It’s highly probable that someone in the room is a snorer, so make sure to pack earplugs to avoid sleepless nights.

4. Daily Goodbyes

Meeting new people and making new friends is one of the best parts of travel. Learning about other people’s values, beliefs, and culture makes you a more worldly citizen, but it also means saying goodbye. Over and over and over again. After a while, it becomes difficult to have so many relationships short-lived.

5. Lack Of Constant Community

When talking about the worst part of travel, not having a constant community is right up there with saying goodbye. It’s easy to take friends, family, and even neighbors for granted when you’re living in one place and seeing them often. Traveling makes staying in touch hard on all parties, and it’s likely that your social circle will extend to you, any travel companions, and your close family members.

6. Loneliness

People say travel is a great way to “find yourself” and this is true. However, the reason finding oneself is possible is because of the amount of time you have to just “be”. At first this can be a blessing, but after some time it’s easy to become lonely. Even surrounded by other, like-minded travelers it can be hard to connect in a meaningful way and get out of your own head.

7. Missing Out on Celebrations

For most long term travelers, flying home every time there is a birth, wedding, holiday, or even funeral isn’t always realistic. Flights can be costly and the reality is that certain life events will get missed during your travels. Sure, you can always send a card and “be there” over Skype, but it isn’t the same as spending time with your loved ones. This is one of the worst parts about travel and is a tough realization to come to terms with.

Is Long Term Travel Still Worth It?

It’s important to note that though this post is a compilation of the downsides of travel, it in no way undermines all of the amazing parts of travel. For every negative there are countless positives, and often the negative experiences make the best stories. Be aware of the less glamorous parts of travel before you decide to plan a world trip, but appreciate every moment. After all, the absolute worst part of travel is missing it when it’s over.

How To Travel the World As A Couple

By Sara | July 15, 2016

Let’s be clear: traveling with your significant other isn’t always as amazing as it sounds. Sure, you make countless memories together, are with each other for all the ups and downs, and know each other better than anyone else. But, there are times when traveling with your significant other is incredibly difficult.

Traveling with another person means true, 24/7 contact. You take transportation together, explore together, relax in together, and maybe even work together. That much togetherness can get exhausting quickly, and it can be easy to take out frustrations on your partner. However, there are ways to adapt in order to have a more harmonious trip as well as strengthen your relationship. The five tips below contain a few suggestions on how to travel the world as a couple.

Tip 1: Alone Time is Okay

This is tip number one for a reason. Even couples that live together don’t typically spend 24/7 together, so it’s important to schedule out time for yourselves to stay sane. Whether one person explores with another fellow traveler while the other has a Netflix day or whether you work in different rooms of an Airbnb to get some breathing space, taking time to recharge alone will help both parties appreciate each other’s presence more.

Tip 2: Remember the HALT Rule

My mother taught me this rule and it’s true what they say: mom’s know everything. HALT stands for ‘hungry’, ‘angry’, ‘lonely’, ‘tired’. If you or your significant other are feeling any of these things, don’t engage in an argument or debate. Solve the HALT issues first, and then see if it’s still a discussion worth having.

Tip 3: Communicate

Once the HALT factors are solved for, make sure to remember to communicate clearly with your partner. This includes sharing the joys, excitement, fears, and failures openly with each other and never forcing one person to play a guessing game of what the other person is thinking or feeling.

This also means communicating in a way that resonates with the other person. Knowing your partner’s love language and preferred communication styles can prevent many problems before they even arise. The more that issues or potential issues are talked about and worked towards together, the more peaceful and loving the relationship will be.

Tip 4: Share Responsibilities

Traveling the world alone is hard enough, and though there are many great reasons to travel the world as a couple, there are also many additional challenges. It’s important to share the workload equally so that no one party feels like they are pulling more weight than another, and no one party feels a lack of purpose.

The best way we found to to this is to write down all of the daily and weekly tasks that need to be accomplished (blogging, video recording, planning transportation, planning itineraries in cities, brand connections, making money, etc.) and then divide them up equally, or in a way that works best for you as a couple. Having an equal workload can help to increase understanding between couples as well as make each person feel like what they contribute is valuable.

Tip 5: Don’t Take Your Partner for Granted

This last tip is so crucial and yet so easy to fall into a habit of. It’s not easy spending so much time with the same person, but if you can sustain long term, or even short term travel together, then you’ll be that much stronger for any other obstacle that comes in life. A huge part of making it all work is appreciating the things that your partner does and letting them know that.

Whether it’s little things like her making coffee and breakfast every morning or big things like him staying up late to finish projects, let your partner know that they are appreciated. Likely, you’re the only one they’re hearing it from on the road which makes it all the more important.

These tips aren’t everything that goes into making a relationship work on the road, but they’re a good start for those wanting to travel the world as a couple. Have any couple’s travel tips? Comment below!

How to Save Money on Food

By Sara | June 3, 2016

Food can be a big expense when traveling, but it doesn’t have to be. While sampling the local cuisine is part of the cultural experience in every country, you don’t have to break the bank eating out. Here are some of our top tips to save money on food while traveling.

1. Grocery Shop

This is the number one way to save money on food. The markup on food purchased in restaurants is much higher than many assume, and over time can drain a travelers savings. After a few months of eating out, we started to grocery shop to save money. Once we committed to this approach, the monetary difference was outstanding.

On average, we save over $350 per month by eating food from the grocery store instead of going out to eat.. If you can stay somewhere with a fridge and working kitchen, groceries will save the most money on food.

2. Eat Like a Local

In every city there is an area, a street, or a neighborhood that is a ‘tourist trap’. The food costs more, souvenirs are priced higher, and at times even metro tickets are marked up. When exploring a new place, do some research to find out where the locals eat and shop, then make your way there. Not only will you save some money, but you’ll also get a more authentic experience.

3. Share Meals

If you’re traveling with a friend or significant other, sharing meals can bring huge cost savings. Many times a large meal will cost less than two smaller meals, so start with that and if you’re still hungry you can always buy more food. More often than not, food portions are large enough to share, and this way no food goes to waste.

4. Look for Deals

Signs that say “two for one” are a travelers best friend. For that matter, any food place that is advertising a deal is a good place to check out. It’s always worth asking if a restaurant or shop has any promotions going on and to keep an eye out for signs that scream ‘sale’.

5. Snack Efficiently

Everyone likes snacks, and snacks are a great way to eat smaller portions at meal time. However, the type of snack you choose matters. Some snacks will leave you content until dinner, and some snacks will have you just as hungry as when you started eating. The trick is to buy filling snacks like cheeses, yogurts, and peanut butter. Steer away from candy and snacks that only fill you up if you consume large quantities. This approach will save your wallet and your waistline!

Whether you’re on a tight budget or just want to save a bit of extra money, utilizing these tips can help a huge amount. What are your favorite cost saving tips for travel?

Where is Home? (A Philosophical Approach)

By Sara | May 5, 2016

One of the many reasons that traveling the world is amazing is that we get to meet people from all walks of life. Every interaction is unique, but in each conversation we are eventually asked “where is home?” We can usually dodge the question by saying “United States” or “California,” but answering any more specifically is a challenge.

Right now we are in London, a week ago we were in Paris, everything we own is in a storage unit in California, and our mailing address is in Wisconsin. As you can probably imagine, home is difficult to define right now.

After sitting at our AirBnB dining room table debating where our home was, we threw the question out to our friends and family on Facebook and got some great responses.

Both of my apartments in WI and MN that I lived in for a year I never called home. I always called them “the apartment.” I think it was because I knew they were temporary. Now in CO we own a condo and I will call it home because it is more permanent, even though we may move back to AZ someday where we grew up, and now that I am married I live with my husband instead of alone or with roommates. However, I still also call my childhood home in AZ “home.” So what I get out of this is that there needs to be some sort of permanency, living with or close to family/friends, and a place where precious memories have been made and will continue to be made. Even if all of my family moved away from AZ, I think I would always call it home. Just things to think about…
-Facebook Follower

Home is a feeling at this age. It may be where you’ve moves all your things or where you pay to live, but home is somewhere, hopefully with others, where you feel accepted and most comfortable. It’s somewhere you take refuge.

-Facebook Follower

Home is where my wife stores her Ikea purchases

-Facebook Follower

Home is a fluid concept. It is where happy memories are made, and that change as life changes. Home is about gathering places of loved ones. It’s all about the company you keep, and where people you love gather.

-Facebook Follower

The real “home” is the place where you feel good. The tricky part is that it isn’t always a physical place… It can be every steps of your trip across the world 🙂

-Facebook Follower

c.s. Lewis said we were made for another world. home is not getting attached to temporary places. But finding a eternal place to dwell. <3

-Facebook Follower

A place with memory and a place you have spent a lot of time. I spent a lot of time in Texas growing up. And sure I “lived” in Wisconsin but Texas always felt like home. I felt relaxed and at ease. Felt like that’s where o was suppose to be

-Facebook Follower

Home is where you feel safest, where you feel at ease and with people you love 🙂 hope you guys are well!

-Facebook Follower

My home is earth.

-Facebook Follower

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The overwhelming consensus was that the definition of home has three main components: belonging, longevity, and safety.


The first thing required to feel at home is having a sense of belonging. This can include feeling comfortable enough to be your true self, wear what you’d like, come and go as you please, and feel accepted by those around you.


The next requirement of a home is having a sense of safety. Living in an environment of both physical and emotional safety is crucial to calling a place home. A house doesn’t make a home all by itself, but having a sense of safety helps begin to transform that.


The last requirement of home is a sense of longevity, or the feeling of home being continuous and always ‘there’. It is important to note that this is relative per person. For instance, while traveling the world Greg often refers to the AirBnB’s or hostels we stay in as home while Sara does not. The sense of longevity varies person to person, and plays a big factor in determining where home is.

Through many discussions and inputs, we’ve come to the conclusion that home isn’t just where your family is, but it’s also a base, a safe house, a network of people, and a place you can always return to. When any of those things are no longer present or become difficult to define, the “where is home” debate opens.

In the last 5 months we’ve been to 8 countries and 30 different cities, and while we’re having the time of our lives there are moments where we miss our California home. We miss things like walking into an apartment furnished with our own things, cooking meals with actual ingredients from our neighborhood grocery store and hosting monthly wine and cheese parties. We miss having girls nights to watch the new season of the Bachelor while the guys play the latest zombie game. The reality is, when you leave everything behind to travel, home changes.

Extended travel is one of the hardest journeys we’ve embarked on, but the reward is so worth it. Travel will change you, it will make you sick, it will push you into situations that are foreign and unique, and you’ll probably emerge a different person than who you started as.

But travel will also help you grow, help you learn, increase your compassion, and teach you so much about the world that just can’t be understood through news or textbooks. We miss having a constant home, and we know that we’ll make another one someday. When we do, it will be the most cherished and valuable thing in our lives. But for now, the road still calls stronger than having the feeling of home, so we’ll travel on.

AirBnb vs. Hostels

By Sara | March 10, 2016

Every traveler enjoys having a nice place to rest their head at night. Hotels can be an expensive option, so more and more travelers are turning to hostels and Airbnb’s. The question is, which one is right for you?

What Are They?

Airbnb: Airbnb began as a Silicon Valley startup and is now a major travel resource. People who have extra sofa’s, bedrooms, or entire properties can list them on Airbnb, add some photos, and set custom prices per night, week, and month. Travelers can book either a shared space, private room, or entire place to themselves and all payment goes through Airbnb’s system.

Hostels: Hostels are similar to the concept of a hotel, but usually don’t have the luxury amenities. Most hostels have a series of rooms with bunk beds and a shared bathroom, and charge by the bed per night.


Airbnb: Staying with a local can give travelers a great insight into the local culture, and can help to foster new friendships. The large range of price points provides flexibility and can accommodate budget and luxury travelers alike. Airbnb’s are also quieter than hostels and can feel more like home. And, if anything does go wrong, the Airbnb service team is quick and reliable (we’ve tested this!).

Hostels: The major advantage of hostels is the price, particularly for solo travelers. If all you need is a bed and a bathroom, hostels are the way to go. Many hostels have discounts on excursions, and an information desk with activities. Lastly, since hostels can accommodate more people, it’s very easy to make friends or even find a travel companion.


Airbnb: The host controls the home, so things like quality of wifi, temperature, and pets are all factors that you’ll have to accept or modify by talking with your host. Additionally, Airbnb trust stems from user reviews, so if you’re just starting off it can take a while to get an accepted stay.

Hostels: The downside to hostels varies depending on where you stay. They are typically a bit rowdier, the wifi signal isn’t as good, and amenities aren’t usually as nice as Airbnb’s.

The Verdict

Though there are pro’s and con’s to both, we try to book Airbnb’s whenever we can. A general rule of thumb is to stay in a hostel if you’re looking to meet new people or get a cheap stay, and book an Airbnb is you want to work, relax, or live with a local. If you haven’t tried out Airbnb yet, here’s $35 off your first stay!

Where do you stay when you travel? Comment below your favorite Airbnb or hostel!

Finding Places to Stay on the Road

By Sara | February 18, 2016

One of the highest costs when traveling can be booking a place to stay. However, there are so many alternatives to staying in hotels that accommodation can become one of your lowest costs. Below are five websites that we use to find places to stay when we travel.

1. Airbnb

We were hosts with Airbnb when we lived in California, and had such a great experience that we knew we wanted to use them when traveling. What’s great about Airbnb is the flexibility. Whether you prefer an entire apartment yourself or just need a sofa to crash on, there’s an option and a price for every person.

Booking is simple and their customer service team is excellent should you have any problems.  With Airbnb, we’ve been able to stay in some very nice, conveniently located places while learning about the local culture and making some lifelong friends. Get $35 off your first stay here.

2. HostelBookers

HostelBookers is our go-to site for when we want to meet other travelers. The site allows you to choose to book either a bed in a dormer or a private room, and prices are rarely more than $15-$20 per night.

In some countries like Morocco and SouthEast Asia, hostels average $5 a night, leaving the rest of your budget for experiences and food!

3. HostelWorld

HostelWorld is very similar to HostelBookers, but doesn’t always have the lowest prices. You can still find great hostels all over the world though, and the platform is easy to use.

4. House Sitting

A different option while traveling is signing up for a service like Trusted House Sitters or House Carers. These sites allow you to stay for free in someones home in exchange for taking care of their pets and house while they are away. We did this for two weeks in Spain, and wrote about our experience here. If done correctly, you can eliminate your housing costs completely by just house sitting.

5. Couchsurfing

Couchsurfing is another free option and a way to meet locals. We haven’t personally used this service and have found that many hosts don’t want to host two people. If you’re a solo traveler, you may have better luck.

What are your favorite sites to use when traveling? We love to hear how other people travel and hope that these tips help you plan your next trip!

6 Transportation Websites for Budget Travel

By Sara | February 16, 2016

The notion that travel is expensive is a fantastic myth that airlines and transport companies have profited from, but the truth is that cheap travel is easier than you’d think. Here are a few go-to resources that we use every week when planning our next destinations.

1. Skyscanner

We’re big fans of SkyScanner. The ability to search based on one airport and have everywhere in the world show up is priceless. We save hundreds of dollars by looking at full month of prices in the chart view and choosing the cheapest dates. I never book flight without checking SkyScanner first. If you don’t want to do the research, check out our Cheap Flights This Month page for weekly updated flights from all over the world.

2. Rome2Rio

Every time we travel, Rome2Rio is a site I do a quick check on. The site pulls up relevant busses and trains for a given route and has a direct link to book tickets. It’s easy to price check ground transport against flights within minutes and know whether you’re missing a good deal or not.

3. Skiplagged

Skiplagged shows what the cheap travel transportation options are. I don’t often book directly through them because you can find better rates elsewhere, but Skiplagged displays routes that you may not have thought of before.

For instance, with Skiplagged I was able to find out that a direct flight from Morocco to Belgium was $30 cheaper than the layover route I was planning with Ryan Air. I booked through our credit card rewards instead and got the flights for free.

4. RyanAir

Oh, Ryan Air. A travelers best friend and worst nightmare. Ryan Air gets away with dirt cheap travel prices to almost anywhere in Europe (we’ve flown for as little as $5 per person) by placing extremely stringent guidelines on what they offer. Read: you pay for your seat and that’s it.

Want a booking confirmation text? Three dollars. Want to choose your seats? Six bucks. Bring a carry-on bag that doesn’t fit in the overhead bin? Fifty dollar fee. Forgot to print your boarding pass? There’s a fee for that too. Now, the bright side – their website is fantastic and their prices rock. It’s a decent deal if you can travel light and play by their rules. After all, there’s a reason that their airfare is inexpensive!

5. Credit Card Rewards and Partner Miles

This one varies based on your credit card and score. Greg and I have the Chase Sapphire Preferred card, which gives us bonus points on all travel and dining – two of the biggest expenses while traveling.

The Sapphire Preferred also has no foreign transaction fees and gives  cardholders $500 after you spend a certain amount within the first three months. There is such a thing as free money! We earn plenty of points just by buying the things we normally buy, and in return can redeem our points for free flights and experiences.

Look into credit cards that give you cash back or help you earn points that can be exchanged for flights or hotels to save money on travel.

6. Kayak Explore

Last but not least is Kayak Explore. Kayak Explore pulls up a giant map of the whole world. You can choose your month of travel and price boxes appear over every country. This is great to get a general idea of where to travel and when. The down side is you can’t specify a destination city or choose one-way tickets as a viewing option, so the explore site is best used as a reference before looking into specifics.

Whether you use a site on this list or your personal favorite, travel doesn’t have to be expensive. What sites do you use to book your travel transportation? Comment your favorite below!

Optimize Your Cross-Country Driving

By Greg | January 5, 2016

So you’re planning to go home for the holidays. You’ve been looking forward to that free week off all year, and eagerly put your search dates into Google Flights. The page loads, and you’re shocked to be looking at a choice of small fortunes to be able to visit your own family.

For whatever the reason, sometimes the costs of flights aren’t feasible, or maybe just not sensible, to commit an entire paycheck to. So with no other alternative aside from not traveling, you decide to save your money and drive. Here’s how to make the most out of it.

Step 1: Plan, and Review the Plan

Planning your trip ahead of time will save you money and stress while on the road. The few things you must do are:

  1. Get the oil changed in your car
  2. Check the air in the tires
  3. Make sure you have a spare tire
  4. Pack snacks for the road
  5. Determine which route you’ll take

For cross-country driving, it helps to look at which route is easiest to drive (avoid mountains and bad weather) along with the length of time each route will be, and make the best choice for you and your travel companions.

Step 2: Start Early to Avoid Peak Traffic Times

Starting the drive before everyone else wakes up can save you hours of cross-country driving. If you are driving through a major city, do everything possible to get through the traffic madness before 5am or after 8pm.

The problem with starting late rather than early is that as the night goes on, driving gets harder and harder because your mental clock begins getting ready for bed. However, if you start early in the morning your brain will typically automatically begin to wake up at around 5-6 am and allow you to drive without fatigue the entire day.

Step 3: Use GPS

GPS is a wonderful tool that almost everyone should take advantage of it. Using Apple Maps on iPhone and Google Maps on Android can help you avoid accidents, find faster routes, find the next gas station and even navigate you through the never ending construction zones.

Waze, a popular community driven iPhone and Android app, can tell you if police are waiting right after a speed limit drop. Use GPS when you can, shut it off during long 100+ mile straight-a-ways and DON’T FORGET YOUR CHARGER. The last thing you want is your GPS giving you a faster route and then having your phone shut off. Trust me, I know.

Step 4: Pack Snacks, Not Drinks

This rule is simple: eat everything except super salty foods. Salt dehydrates you and causes your body to want water. When you drink anything you typically have to use the restroom an hour later, which  just adds time onto your already long cross-country driving adventure.

Each stop on average takes about 15 minutes because you have to get off the highway, find a restroom, park the car, go to the restroom, grab another pack of beef jerky and mosey back onto the highway so you can pass that 18-wheeler for the 7th time. It’s ok to drink liquid, just do it 1-2 hours before stopping to get gas. You go to the bathroom when you refuel. It’s that simple.

Tip: This does not mean relieve yourself on the side of the highway. If Jimmy the cop drives by and is having a bad day, you just became a registered sex offender.

Step 5: Cruise Control

Cruise Control is key. Not only does it save gas, but it keeps you moving and can prevent traffic tickets. You can always tell when someone is driving long distance without cruise control because they go back and forth between 50 and 70 miles per hour. The tortoise won the race because he was consistent with his speed.

Step 6: Optimize Your Stops

You are going to need to stop every 4-6 hours or 300-600 miles depending on the car to refill the gas tank. Begin looking for gas stations when you have 1/4  tank left. The last thing you want to do is end up between El Paso and San Antonio where there’s nothing but desert because you thought you could make it to the next gas station 150 miles away.

Plan your gas stops with your bathroom breaks to maximize time. At each stop, make every travel companion throw out their trash, get out to stretch, and use the bathroom.

Step 7: Follow the Group

If traffic is going 80 and the speed limit is 70, stay the speed of traffic. It is safer to drive the same speed as everyone else, and on the plus side you can make up some time. If a Corvette zips by you going 90 in a 70, do not try to catch up. Cops pull over chasers before speeders. Last, if traffic is going slower than the speed limit but the driving conditions allow you to go the speed limit, do it.

Step 8: Stay Awake

We can all agree that it’s far better to make it to your destination alive than dead. There are rest areas scattered all along the highways and you can even doze off in Walmart parking lots for a few hours if you need to.

Listen to music, drink some coffee, play the A-Z travel game, but above all stay awake and alert. When you start blinking a lot and your eyes get heavy, get off the road! Even the greatest of men enjoy sleep. Get off and give your eyes a rest. The road will be there tomorrow.

Hopefully these cross-country driving tips help you prepare for your next great road-trip. We’d love to hear what your craziest road trip story is! For more tips on travel by air, train, bus, and car, check our 6 Transportation Websites for Budget Travel.