- Skyscanner – an amazing site that helps you find the best possible airfare. It is extremely user friendly, will tell you the likelihood of price change, and you can set it up to send you alerts. I haven’t used it for hotel research, but if you have, let my nerdy little heart know what you thought!
- Kayak – The term under a rock comes to mind. But sometimes the oldies are overlooked. This site is great for finding competitive prices for airfare. I have used it in the past for hotel research, but I honestly think there are a few better sites out there for that particular aspect of travel.
- GTFO – I didn’t use this app for this particular trip, but I do use it as my security blanket. If you are a wandering heart and looking to get out of town fast, this app will tell you where you can go at any given moment for the cheapest price. I can’t help myself and check it almost daily. You never know if a weekend needs a beach, a lake, a city … or just a few new faces.
- Booking.com – This was the first time that I used the site and it was awesome. They have great deals, and it is super user friendly. You can search by price, accommodation type, value deals … the like … I liked them a lot. Plus they have a cancellation policy that rocks!
- Lonely Planet – If you like backpacking at all, you already know about lonely planet. I didn’t book through them because their site is a little less user friendly – it is a little more difficult to understand exactly what type of room you are booking – but I used their references, reviews, and user recommendations as a cross-reference (told you I was beautiful minding it).
- VRBO and Airbnb – I didn’t use these sites for this trip, but have in the past and they are amazing. If you are looking to rent out someone’s house or apartment (have a little space of your own) or more simply rent out a room in someone’s house / apartment – these are absolutely great options. It feels like a little bit of a gamble but I have never been disappointed – as a matter of fact I have made amazing friends through the sites.
- HostelWorld – Oh man. My favorite site. They are the best. And yes, they have way more options than your basic hostel – they also have bed and breakfasts and hotels. I used it almost exclusively when I lived in Europe to travel around. You have to check it out – the prices you can find and the places you end up staying are absolutely awesome. I once ended up in a private cottage, situated in a lemon grove on the southern coast of Italy for 20 dollars a night.
This really only pertains to those looking to do things outside, like say hike a ridiculously tall mountain, go on a safari, and end up on snorkeling on a beach in Africa.
- The Cylmb – Amazing deals on all kinds of outdoor brands. The company is based out of Portland, Or and seriously awesome.
- Backcountry – Great prices for outdoor gear and clothing – also a pretty steller company company. Side note, BCountry is also connected to Steep and Cheap, look at that for a daily deal that are pretty great for those of us on a noodle budget.
- Sierra Trading Post – I didn’t end up ordering anything from them on account of running out of time but! they did have some amazing deals that made me tear up a little.
- Also – pro tip- A lot of outdoor brands have web specials that beat the prices anywhere else online. I checked Patagonia (a personal favorite), REI, Marmot and a host of other brands directly and ended up buying a lot of stuff directly from them. Also, REI usually hosts garage sales that are pretty freaking great. They basically sell all the items that are returned for whatever reason at an extremely discounted price. I got a $200 jacket for 40 dollars – and the jacket has a lifetime warranty on it – you just can’t beat that. Amazon was also my buddy in purchasing smaller things – like a travel document wallet which came in extremely handy.
- Lastly – offline – I became a regular at the thrift store and the dollar tree – you need snacks, hand sanitizer, wipes, tissues, lotion … and paying a dollar for each is a pretty great feeling. I also put call outs on Facebook and reached out to friends. Some of the gear is expensive and if you can borrow … well why the hell not?
We went through the most amazing company – Zara Adventures – I highly, highly recommend it. The people were absolutely amazing at every point of the journey. Definitely check them out if you are interested in hiking Kilimanjaro or going on a safari.
Looking for a pack list for Kilimanjaro? Here is a list of what I took with me. I also included links to some of the gear I bought/ had/ borrowed for the trip. Don’t at all feel like these brands are the only option. I am a bargain hunter, a lot of the brands I went with simply had the best deals at the time.
One – Small or medium duffle bag – Base Camp Duffle
One – Daypack – Camelback
One – Waterproof jacket
One – Insulated jacket – I rented this at the hotel in Tanzania
One – Base layer jacket – Nano Puff Hoody
Two – Long sleeve, light, moisture-wicking shirts – REI Crew Shirts
Two – Short sleeve, light, moisture-wicking shirts – Champion Powertrain Tees
One – Waterproof hiking pants – REI Sahara Convertibel Pants
One – Fleece pants
One – Long underwear / or something similar – Patagonia base layer leggings
One – Shorts – light, moisture-wicking – REI Venturi Shorts
Three – Underwear, moisture-wicking – Patagonia Activewear
Three – Sports bras, moisture-wicking – Underarmour
One – Brimmed Hat
One – Sunglasses
One – Knit hat / or something that covers your ears and will keep you warm
One – Bandana or something to cover your face and your neck
One – Waterproof gloves – think ski gloves
One – Glove liners
One – Hiking boots
One – Camp shoes – like flip flops or your most comfy shoes
Three – Wool, thick, hiking socks – Smartwool
Three – Sock liners
One – Gaiters – Outdoor Research
Two – Water bottles – I suggest getting the kind with a filter built in – Brita
One – Water bladder
One – Towel (quick dry) – I honestly didn’t really use mine until the last day but it was nice to have
One – Head lamp
One – Set of extra batteries for your headlamp, or for your friend’s headlamp
One – Sunscreen
One – Lip Balm
One – First Aid Kit
Two – Hand sanitizer
Three – Wet wipe packages of 25 – you can get them at the dollar store
Two – Pens
One – Journal
One – Set of hiking poles
One – Sleeping bag for cold weather
One – Creature comfort – a pair of sweatpants, a sweatshirt … something to make you comfortable at camp
Multi pack of tissues
Toiletries – all that you can think of – toothbrush, toothpaste, moisturizer, hairbrush, hair ties … you know … all that. Side note – makeup isn’t necessary, we didn’t take any with us because, honestly, what is the point, you are covered in dirt most of the time.
Snacks – nuts, granola, beef jerky, snickers, anything that gives you a quick burst of energy or sugar – bring a lot of snacks … just so many. You will want to share with your guide and your friends and people you meet along the way … but you will also want to make sure you have enough for yourself.
Copies of your passport, visa, driving license, and immunization records. A written account of anything you are allergic to should be included on this copy. People struggle sometimes with the altitude and you don’t want to take any of your important docs with you on the actual hike. Should you get into trouble and need to be rushed somewhere, having the info on you could be really helpful.
All medication needed.