“A journey of 1000 miles must begin with a single step.”
Perhaps by now you’re wondering what mid range travel resources I use to book my adventures? What items and steps do I follow to make sure I avoid looking like a tourist?
One of the reasons why I started this blog back in 2017 was because I noticed there was a void for travellers seeking advice when exploring the world with a mid-range budget. There are many blogs about backpacking on a shoestring and others sharing 5-star luxury experiences, but at the time I couldn’t find any for us folk after something in between!
For me, mid-range travel can be defined as splurging on a few experiences while also ensuring I’m getting bang-for-buck when I’m abroad. If hostels aren’t your thing and 5-star luxury hotels aren’t either, everything you’ll find here on my mid-range travel blog is for you.
Below are my tried-and-tested, ultimate go-to’s that I’ve carefully selected in over a decade of travelling. I’m sure they will help you travel without contributing to overtourism issues as some of these things have been game-changers for me. And I hope they will be for you, too.
As an added bonus I’ve also sprinkled a few pro travel tips throughout as well as resources I avoid and why. If you’d like to learn my secrets for how to “be invisible” on your next adventure using these resources, read on for more!
This guide to my favourite mid-range travel resources will cover:
This post contains affiliate links, at no extra cost to you. I may receive a small commission if you click through and make a purchase.
Essential travel gear I won’t leave home without
Oh my goodness these packing cubes would have saved my life living out of a suitcase for four months in Europe and the US, I wish I started using them years ago. I absolutely will not travel anywhere without them now, even if I’m only going away for a weekend!
I highly recommend these to any sort of traveller. They’re unbelievably handy for keeping your clothes and other bits and bobs organised whilst you’re moving from place to place. Say goodbye to rummaging through your suitcase looking for a particular top or pair of pants!
The cubes come in different sizes so I like to put all tops in one, pants in another, etc. It depends on how long I’ll be away, but if I’m only going for a weekend I’ll be able to fit all my clothes neatly into one packing cube.
PRO TIP: After some trial and error, I found the best way to store clothes in the cubes is to roll them. Rolling allows you to squeeze more in each cube and helps to limit the amount of creasing, too.
Small cross-body bag
In order to not look like a tourist, I have always avoided carrying around a large daybag or backpack. Being invisible means minimising everything! My FAVOURITE travel bag of all time would have to be my Furla Metropolis Satchel. Here’s why I can’t recommend this bag enough for travelling:
- It’s stylish! You won’t normally see a stereotypical tourist wearing a bag like this. The structured design means it seamlessly goes from day to night.
- Exceptionally durable as the leather has a special coating making it water resistant, too.
- Option to use the cross-body strap, or carry on your arm or in hand by the top handle.
- The pocket on the back is super handy when you need pop your phone in and out during the day and saves you having open the lock closure.
- The top flap and gold lock closure make it secure. Good luck to pickpockets trying to get that open without you noticing!
Another smaller option is the Furla Metropolis Mini. If you’re heading out to dinner or a night on the town, this mini-bag fits the essentials such as phone, card holder and room keys.
You can also take a look at this guide to anti-theft travel bags if you prefer.
PRO TIP: Choose a neutral colour like beige, grey or black that will suit everything in your travel wardrobe. That way there’s no need to worry if your bag will go with every outfit.
Canon G7X Camera & several SD cards
The Canon G7X camera or Canon G7x Mark III are perfect for me because I want SLR-quality photos without having to lug a huge thing around (as you know by now, I like to be an Invisible Tourist). It also fits neatly into my cross-body bag so I don’t scream “tourist” with it on show dangling around my neck.
I recently upgraded to the Mark III as it shoots videos in 4k.
PRO TIP: For extended trips, I change the SD cards frequently so if my camera is ever lost or stolen I’ve only lost what’s on the card in the camera at the time, not the photos from my entire trip.
it’s also wise to bring 1-2 spare batteries with you each day so your camera won’t be rendered useless if it dies from taking too many photos!
Universal travel adaptor
A universal travel adaptor like this for your electronics that can be used in any country is a must! I used to buy two for the individual countries I was visiting but having one or two universal ones is so much better, especially when switching countries often. These days they even come with USB ports on the side so you don’t need to use up the larger adaptor. So handy!
A leather travel wallet like this is amazing for keeping passports, travel docs, cards, leftover currency etc altogether and organised. It’s perhaps the most useful gift I’ve ever received, and was given to me by my lovely colleagues at the job I decided to quit to spend a year travelling the world.
BONUS: If you choose a pretty stylish one it can double as a clutch on a night out as well!
Basic travel makeup kit
When travelling it’s important to look confident, especially in places that target tourists to scam. What helps me feel confident is knowing I look put-together and not a sloppy hot mess (even though I may feel that way after a long-haul flight).
This is why I like to pack a small makeup case containing a few basics when I travel. Over the years I’ve learnt how to streamline my little routine to get ready as well as minimise the products I take. My travel makeup kit contains:
- My favourite mascara, it’s super durable and lasts all day through heat and sweat
- A small liquid concealer to cover blemishes
- Transparent powder compact to set the concealer so it doesn’t smudge during the day
- Eyebrow pencil to define my brows
- Neutral-coloured lipstick that can go from day to night
- Small, neutral eye shadow palette and kohl eyeliner for nights out
- A small cruelty-free make-up brush for eyelids and larger one for setting powder (from a travel-sized brush kit like this).
That’s it! All this fits in a small cosmetics case that doesn’t take up much space in my suitcase leaving more room for important things like souvenirs. Of course, these suggestions are options/brands that work for me personally to give you an idea. You may need more or less than what I’ve listed here to suit your needs, but the overall aim is to minimise what you pack.
I prefer not to have feral attention-grabbing hair when I’m trying to blend in with the crowd so I’m one of those people who won’t go anywhere without my GHD hair straightener. The heat-proof case is handy for when you need to pack the straightener right after you’ve used it.
Knock on wood, this one has lasted me throughout my 11 years of travel and we’ve shared so many memories together… We’ve laughed, we’ve cried, we’ve been separated by oceans and baggage handlers but we’ve always found our way back to each other, thankfully!
Eye mask for sleeping
Unfortunately I am one of those people who needs pitch black to sleep, which isn’t always possible. Obviously on overnight flights there is a small amount of light and some hotel rooms have flimsy window coverings (like the sliding paper windows in traditional Japanese accommodation). I wish that light didn’t bother me!
I used to find it impossible to sleep, even with a little light so an eye mask like this has ensured I get the sleep I need to face the next day of travelling.
Travel gear I avoid
These aren’t necessary when travelling if you’ve done your research into pickpocket scams of your destination beforehand. A cross-body bag like I listed above does a good enough job and is just one of my 10 easy steps to look like a local when travelling.
Many people like to use anti-theft backpacks to deter pickpockets. In my humble opinion though, this makes you look like a tourist who is worried about their bag being tampered with!
Full-size wallet from home
Cardholders are great for travel due to their compact size. They are excellent for just the essentials and won’t take up much space in your bag or pocket. Do you really need to bring all your cards out with you each day? Those loyalty cards from your pharmacy or coffee shop back home aren’t going to be useful when you’re abroad! Again, it’s all about minimising what you have when you’re out and about.
After exclusively using my lightweight travel card holder for months during long-term travel, I decided to ditch my larger everyday wallet I was using at home. Now my everyday wallet is a cardholder so I can use small crossbody bags that don’t weigh me down when I’m running errands.
PRO TIP: With cards, I tend to leave my keycard for withdrawing cash behind in the hotel’s safe and just take my credit card and enough cash for the day out with me.
Although I am prepared, I can be assured that if anything were to ever happen at least I still have access to my money with one card. I’ll always use an ATM to receive the best exchange rate rather than go to a currency exchange (Bureau de Change), too.
Bean neck pillows
Those weird things are bulky, awkward and take up quite a bit of space in a carry-on bag. Air-inflated neck pillows like this are much more comfortable behind your neck for long-haul flights and they fold up into a nice, compact size.
Searching & Booking
I usually use eDreams to search for flights within Europe, or I directly Google airport codes (if you don’t know this just use the city name) to pull up all flights and airlines that fly to the destination, for example:
I usually tend to book directly with the airline. Booking directly with the airline for mid range travel doesn’t always mean you’re paying more. There’s no middle-man to painstakingly deal with if there’s a problem with your reservation.
99% of the time I will book a direct flight, even if it costs more than a flight with a stopover. The money I save not using a travel agent to do this means I can use that amount on a direct flight to make the most of my available time.
Crucial travel time could be better spent exploring a city rather than waiting around in transit an airport. If I have to make a stopover en route to Europe from Australia, I’ll stay a few days somewhere in Asia (like I did in Hong Kong or Singapore) to break up the journey and visit a new city along the way.
PRO TIP: Compare whether you can save money by booking in the local currency. For instance, if flying from Australia to Europe via Hong Kong, it sometimes works out cheaper after currency conversion to book your flight to Europe from the Hong Kong version site and pay in HKD rather than booking through the Australian version of the site and paying in AUD. Us Aussies are typically ripped off, travelling bunch we are!
Flight resources I avoid
I always avoid flight comparison sites such as Webjet or Skyscanner because years ago they used to add around $20pp per booking on top of the fare (which I thought was dodgy) so I never bothered using them again.
The main downside for me is I noticed they don’t always show every available flight by an airline either, and instead display flights with several stopovers that are geared towards low-budget travellers with lots of time to spare.
Yes, that’s fine if you have the time and the interfaces of these sites are user-friendly but I’m all about travelling with a mid-range budget so I’d rather avoid cheap flights with annoying stopovers and pay a little extra for a direct flight to get me to my destination faster where possible. Why not spend that time exploring rather than wishing time away in an airport terminal?
Mid-Range Travel Resources for Finding Hotels
Did you know despite its booming popularity Airbnb might be illegal in your destination city?
Booking.com have a user-friendly map view of hotels that are available in my desired area and show any sold out already. Easy options to filter for specifics like kitchenette, parking, guest rating etc. Usually get quite a good deal due to their large buying power and I highly recommend them!
If available for my specified dates, I’ll usually book with local accommodation providers rather than large global hotel chains to help keep money in the local community.
TripAdvisor is literally my BIBLE specifically when it comes to reading reviews, not just for accommodation but for activities and attractions, too. The reviews on TripAdvisor seem to be more recent and frequently updated than on Booking.com or Expedia.
It’s handy to see the travel stats of each reviewer to gauge how often they travel and how much weight their opinion has as opposed to someone who’s written perhaps only one or two reviews.
PRO TIP: After checking both Expedia and Booking.com, I will always cross-check their pricing directly with the hotel I’ve decided on to see if I’m missing out on any offers, and book directly with them in some cases. If you have any special requests, ALWAYS ring the hotel to confirm personally if booking through a third party. Sometimes special requests get lost in cyberspace!
Lonely Planet Guidebooks
I’ve placed these under the Accommodation section of this guide because I use Lonely Planet guidebooks to help me figure out the best area for me to stay. I have a read through these and choose my accommodation based on proximity to the main sights I want to see.
Accommodation options I avoid
I won’t use Hotels.com anymore as I found when I booked with them several times in the past I ended up getting a crappy room and had to pay upfront which isn’t always ideal.
Also, I won’t use Airbnb. As mentioned earlier, not many people are aware of this fact but despite its popularity Airbnb might be illegal in your destination city. For example, in New York City it is illegal for anyone to rent out their property to a visitor for under 30 days. Surprised? I was, too!
There’s more info here and a horror stories here. There’s been a crackdown on many European cities and in Japan thanks to overtourism so ensure you do your research first. As an invisible tourist, our aim is to help support locals, not make their lives more difficult.
Yes, loads of people run the risk each day but I’d rather not have that burden over my head when I’m trying to enjoy a holiday!
TIP: My guide to ethical alternatives to Airbnb will help you achieve the same travel experiences without inadvertently taking residential properties away from locals.
BOOKING CULTURAL EXPERIENCES
In case you weren’t aware, I am a HUGE fan of enjoying unique cultural experiences when I travel. Not only does this enable you to learn and understand more about the local culture, it helps to keep traditions alive and supports local businesses.
Part of being an invisible tourist is about getting organised and prepared in advance. There’s little point to booking popular activities at the last minute only to realise tickets are sold out. I personally prefer to avoid disappointment by booking activities and experiences in advance. My favourite sites to do this are:
Offering discounted railpasses, pocket WiFi, SIM cards and tickets to unique activities around the globe, Klook has become one of my go-to sites for finding experiences when I travel. From Asia to Europe to Oceania, Klook have you covered!
The booking platform is becoming quite popular at major destinations they sometimes have a dedicated skip-the-line section at certain attractions for Klook ticketholders. If you’re wondering if this service is too good to be true, read more in my article, Is Klook Legit?
in Japan, I absolutely love using Magical Trip for small group tours showcasing authentic cultural experiences. Small tours of 8 people or less are more personal and help avoid contributing to issues caused by overtourism in Japan.
The best part is the friendly tour guides are Japanese locals from the city and are very keen to share more about their hometown and culture with you! Read my dedicated reviews with Magical Trip here.
Another for Japan, a great way to experience local culture is through food! airKitchen is a service that allows you to book authentic cooking classes with locals in their homes or restaurants. Learning how to cook the local cuisine is a souvenir from Japan that will stay with you for life. Read more about my cooking class in Kyoto I took here.
There’s apps for everything these days. I find these the most useful for planning my trips and when travelling:
I began using the TripIt app in 2012 and I cannot speak about it highly enough, especially for long-term travel when you have multiple months’ worth of flights, accommodation and activities to collate.
It’s super simple to use, convenient and best of all it’s free! There is also a Pro option that instantly alerts you to flight delays, gate changes and baggage carousel info but I have never needed it.
Simply sign up then forward your flight and accommodation confirmations to a dedicated email address and they will appear as an itinerary in your TripIt app. Add activities, notes, costs and much more into your trip to keep track.
PRO TIP: I also love the printable PDF option so it’s possible to email your itinerary to friends and family.
As mentioned earlier, the Klook app is super handy to book tickets and experiences on the go. Take advantage of being able to skip the line at some attractions by booking through the app!
Great to keep track of the exchange rate before and whilst you’re travelling so there are no unexpected surprises on your credit card when you return home.
TripAdvisor as mentioned earlier as I find reviews by others invaluable, especially when it comes to accommodation and finding out tips for requesting a better room.
Google Offline Maps
You can save an area of your destination for offline use when you haven’t got access to WiFi. This comes in super handy and you can avoid data roaming charges on your phone. Win!
Have you heard of Pinterest? It can best be described as a digital “pin board” for discovering ideas and saving them for later. I’ve been using Pinterest since its early days back in 2012 to find inspiring destinations to travel to! If you’re already using the platform, come and follow me on Pinterest to never miss my new posts.
Mid-range travel resources for finding transport
In central Europe and in Japan, trains really are the best way to get around. The combination of major cities being relatively close together and trains boasting speeds of 200+ km/h mean they don’t take much longer than the entire flying process of checking in, flight time, collecting baggage, journey from airport to city centre etc.
Trains take you directly into the city’s heart plus you get to see the stunning countryside during your journey that you’d miss up in the clouds. Great photo opportunities! You can book tickets online in advance to avoid queues or you can purchase them at the local railway station at your destination.
I need to apologise in advance if you’ve come here with the hope of me recommending bus services or overnight trains for travelling between cities… They just aren’t for me.
Although buses and overnight services cheaper alternatives to flying and high-speed trains, I personally won’t use or recommend them because they aren’t the fastest way to reach a destination. I’m all about efficiency after all and go into more detail about this in my Japan itinerary!
Anyway, I’ve used all these high-speed train companies on various trips around Europe and highly recommend them:
- OBB in Austria (Österreichische Bundesbahnen)
- SBB in Switzerland (Schweizerische Bundesbahnen)
- SNCF in France (Société nationale des chemins de fer français)
- Thalys in Netherlands and Belgium (WiFi on board, win!)
- From Switzerland to Italy, I used Trenitalia and while an improvement on trains back home, it wasn’t as clean or as comfortable as the trains mentioned above. The view for the duration of the journey made up for it, though!
- In Japan, to work out my rail journeys I use HyperDia or Google Maps.
Hire car options
For countries like the United Kingdom, Ireland or New Zealand, it’s usually more convenient to hire a car. I always go straight to Avis because in all my years of using them I have never encountered any nasty surprises or unusual fees charged after the fact.
I can also receive Qantas Frequent Flyer points through Avis. In the past I have been ripped off by other hire car companies so I steer away from them (literally).
BONUS: Language for travel
To find out how to learn language for travel fast, I have a dedicated article on what resources have worked best for me. It really makes all the difference to the experiences you have with locals! If you’re heading to Japan, check my article about the best travel books for Japan, including my favourites to learn Japanese.
Are you ready to “Be Invisible”, too?
By even using a few of these resources you’re sure to be a little more of an “invisible” tourist on your next trip. I’m sure these will help you save money and time as they have worked brilliantly for me over the years in maximising my travel experiences.
I turn down collaboration opportunities from many companies and brands regularly as their philosophies do not align with mine. Here on my blog you will only see me recommend products and services I genuinely love and approve of. I’m not one to recommend something I don’t believe in because that isn’t going to be helpful to anyone!
What are your favourite travel resources? Did you learn any new tips or tricks you could use? Let me know in the comments below or check out my Destinations page to see if I have a dedicated guide for your next adventure.
Until next time,
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This guide to mid range travel resources contains some affiliate links, at no extra cost to you. I may earn a small commission if you decide to make a purchase and if you do, thanks for your support! This helps with the costs of running my blog so I can keep my content free for you. As always, I only recommend a product or service that I genuinely love and use myself!