Common Questions & Other Tools

I no longer have to worry about procuring visas in advance, but in the days of going everywhere I used VisaHQ. (There’s a Canadian version as well.) VisaHQ let me down a few times, but then again, I don’t think they had many customers like me. Overall I had a good experience with them.

For car rentals, I usually use and take the cheapest available option. There isn’t much process to it. Priceline often has even cheaper deals—visit to know what to bid. Be aware that everything booked through the ‘Name Your Own Price’ option is non-refundable.

Silvercar is a new service that I enjoyed in Los Angeles. Uber is a nice step-up from regular taxis.

You can download maps of many subways and public transport systems for your phone.

Packing List

An older AONC post detailed my packing strategy in the middle of the quest. The principles of that outline haven’t changed: pack less! Bring the basics and pick up anything else you need along the way.

Less stuff = less stress. I’m not a minimalist (or any other label-ist) and this isn’t a philosophical stance. My practice of taking less stuff is 100% practical.

My main bags are still the Briggs & Riley and the Tom Bihn Empire Builder. These two bags (the originals!) have gone to nearly 100 countries with me. If I ever need to replace them, my plan is to buy the same thing again.

As a matter of principle I never, ever check baggage. Fight for your right to carry-on!

My MacBook Air comes everywhere with me. I’m always amazed when I hear about travelers who only use mobile devices. I guess if you don’t want to work, that’s fine. But I always work. I’d rather have my laptop than my phone or iPad or anything else.

I read books on the iPad Kindle app.

When coming home to the U.S. from an extended trip abroad, I sometimes use Amazon Prime to send a fresh t-shirt, socks, or underwear to my first domestic hotel. The wonders of next-day shipping!

International Readers

Much of travel hacking is fully international. Aside from the large credit card bonuses, there isn’t much you can’t do no matter where you live.

The U.S. airlines have the most generous policies and promotions. You can (usually) benefit from them regardless of where you live—and in some cases, you can benefit more.