When you take as many trips as we do each year, you’re bound to find a LOT of unique and interesting ways to plan your travels.
So instead of keeping these ideas all locked away in my head, I wanted to put everything down on paper (internet?), so you can find some new ways to travel too!
Full disclosure: we haven’t used the services of every company on this list. Some (like WWOOF’ing or Couchsurfing) just aren’t for us. BUT, since everyone likes to travel differently and is on a different budget, I wanted to make this resource list as comprehensive as possible!
I’ll be adding new travel planning resources as I come across them. If you have any favorites you find super helpful that aren’t on the list, let me know in the comments below!
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Inspiration & Guidebooks
- Pinterest | My go-to for trip inspiration and blogger recommendations for new destinations. Head to our Pinterest boards to get started with your search!
- Eater | Lists of the best restaurants by city, built by foodies (i.e. much more reliable than those TripAdvisor ratings!)
- Rick Steves Pocket Guides | Still my favorite for no-nonsense guidebooks with easy to follow itineraries and tips. Rick’s pocket guides are the best for tucking away in your carry on.
- Lonely Planet Kids | Awesome kid-friendly guidebooks for school age kids.
- Read More: 6 Awesome Travel Apps to Inspire Your Next Adventure
Travel Gear & Packing
- Babies Getaway | Baby and toddler rental gear, servicing every state in the US except Hawaii and Alaska
- Babierge | Another baby/toddler rental gear company covering most of the US and Puerto Rico.
- Skyroam | Portable wi-fi hotspot for internet connection in 110+ countries. Read more about why we love it here.
Related Packing Tips + Gear:
Deciding on which flight search engine to use is really a matter of preference. We typically research using a search tool, and then book directly through the airline or our travel rewards credit card‘s booking tool.
- Skyscanner | Flexible flight search engine, with options to search by cheapest destination or month.
- Google Flights | Another great flexible flight search tool with built-in alerts. Search to whole regions and get suggested time-frames for the best deals.
- Airfare Watchdog | Cheap flight deals with special alerts for sales from your departure city.
- Southwest Airlines | Not to be overlooked for travel throughout the US and Mexico/Caribbean, especially during their fare sales. Their prices will not appear on the search tools above.
- The Points Guy | Follow for flight deals and important airline-related news.
- Scott’s Cheap Flights | Another good follow for cheap flight deals and error fares.
- Park N’ Fly | Pre-pay for airport parking and save a ton! I seriously just discovered this and don’t know why we haven’t been using it for years!
Hotel rates can vary widely, so it’s always worth comparing prices across multiple search engines.
- Booking.com | The most comprehensive search tool for hotels, also including many bed & breakfasts and mom & pop-type accommodations.
- Hotels.com | Easy hotel search tool with a rewards program (book 10 nights, get 1 free!).
- Agoda | Another search tool for hotels, especially comprehensive for Asian and Australian destinations.
- HotelsCombined | Compares all hotel search sites (Booking, Hotels, Agoda) in one place!
- Jetsetter | Sign up for special limited-time deals on luxury and boutique properties.
- Airbnb | No secret, our personal favorite for family-friendly accommodations around the world.
- VRBO | Great for cabins, lake homes, beach houses, etc.
- FlipKey | Another option for private rentals. We have yet to try it out, but it’s owned by TripAdvisor, so you know you can trust them.
- Kid & Coe | International portfolio of family-friendly rental homes.
- Clanventure | Family-friendly vacation rentals in the US at a lower price-point than Kid & Coe. Most of the homes come already stocked with baby or toddler-friendly gear.
- Glamping Hub | Unique private rentals, including yurts, campervans, treehouses and more!
- Trusted Housesitters | Exchange your house- or pet-sitting services for a free stay.
- Home Exchange | Connect with families looking to swap their homes with each other for a week or more.
- Love Home Swap | Book either a direct swap with a family, or lend your home out for credit towards a future stay in someone else’s home.
- WWOOF | World Wide Opportunities on Organic Farms, exchange your help on the farm for a free place to stay. The search tool allows you to find family-friendly opportunities.
- Workaway | Lend your skills (farming, building, teaching) in exchange for free accommodation. A great way to connect with other families abroad.
- Hostelworld | Hostel search tool with results ranked by past visitors. The search tool allows you to find affordable hostels that are suitable for families (family rooms, private bathrooms, etc.)
- Couchsurfing | Affordable stays with local hosts in their own home.
- RentalCars.com | Search all car rental companies at once. We’re not loyal to any one company in particular, and usually go with whoever is cheapest (yet still reputable) in our destination.
- RailEurope | Book single or multi-leg trips across Europe, as well as whole Europe or regional/country passes.
- Eurail | Another option for Europe rail tickets. Prices tend to be higher than RailEurope, but it’s worth checking both sites to get the best deal, especially for multi-country passes.
- FlixBus | Great for long-distance journeys in Europe where trains don’t connect you as well.
- BlaBlaCar | Carpooling app that allows you to “hitchhike” a ride with others traveling long distances. A popular and trusted option in Europe.
- Uber / Lyft | Taxi alternatives we love. Just be sure to check they are legal and operating in the city you’re visiting before you go.
- GroundLink | A one-stop-shop for booking a car service to or from your hotel.
- Family Transfers | Family-friendly transfer service to and from many of Europe’s airports, train stations and ports.
- Rome2Rio | Search tool that tells you the cheapest and fastest way to get from A to B using any combination of transportation options.
- Transit App | Easy to follow, up-to-the-minute public transportation info for 125+ cities worldwide.
- Google Maps | Download region maps before you leave and use the app’s turn-by-turn directions, even if you don’t have an internet connection.
Experiences & Tours
- Airbnb Experiences | Wide-range of bookable travel experiences from city tours, cooking classes, volunteer opportunities, and beyond.
- Viator | One-stop-shop for guided tour bookings.
- Free Tours by Foot | “Name-your-own-price” walking tours available throughout major cities in the US, as well as some international cities.
- Local Guddy | Unique guided tours led by locals in the world’s best cities.
- EatWith | Eat with locals in a new city by booking a seat at a home dinner party, doing a market tour, or challenging yourself to an in-home cooking class.
- Chase | Our favorite travel rewards credit card with built-in travel insurance for trip cancellation, trip interruption, lost baggage and more.
- World Nomads | The most popular option for travel insurance (including medical coverage) abroad. Additional coverage can be added for adventure sports and activities.
- Cover More | Travel insurance with extended coverage options for those with pre-existing health conditions.
What are some of your favorite resources for planning family travel?