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Arriving in Queenstown, New Zealand

I was two when my parents put me on a plane to spend the summer with my grandparents on the East Coast. Throughout my childhood, they continued to send me East every other summer. Other times, we bounced from Kaua’i to the other islands, to California, Canada. There was even a South Western road trip before I went to college. These were the days of Mom’s travel binder stuffed with printed MapQuest guides, printed flight and hotel confirmations. Pre-iPhone.

As an adult (or “adult”), I’ve taken short business trips to week long vacations, to even longer working and living situations across the country and abroad.

Below are some things that help me travel with confidence and ease because when we travel, that’s what we want. We want the process to be as painless as possible for our wallets and peace of mind. We want to get right into the experience.

These items help me do that*:

The travel rewards credit card: Chase Sapphire Reserve

For frequent travelers, this card is gold. The annual fee is much, much higher than other cards, however consider the perks: a $300 statement credit for travel-related purchases, including ride-sharing services like Uber and Lyft, a statement credit for the Global Entry fee (more on that below), a hefty rewards points bonus after meeting the terms (something like spending $3,000 in the first several months of sign-up, which can easily be met if you’re planning a big trip or special occasion.

You could also do what I did and ask people you trust to reimburse you for the big purchases/bills paid with your Reserve card). Travel-related purchases receive 3 points per dollar, and every else 1 point per dollar. I read through my card benefits booklet recently and it also comes with trip protection, emergency medical insurance and roadside assistance, as well as bonus points for shopping at a number of retail partners through their online portal.

I’ve used this card to get me back to San Diego from Lisbon recently (all with rewards points). Before that, the card helped me take an impromptu trip to Colombia.

The accommodation network: Airbnb

Most people already know about this homesharing service, and it’s been interesting to watch them grow from helping people find alternative accommodation into a global, destination experience platform. When I travel, I tend to use a combination of boutique private and shared-room hostels, though for an extended stay in Portugal I booked a private room in a shared apartment exclusively with Airbnb. Before that, I’ve used Airbnb on an extended business trip in Austin, while passing through Sydney and while on vacation in Panama without any issues.

If you haven’t tried Airbnb yet, you can get $40 off your first stay at the link above (remember to read the terms).

The customs line lifesaver: Global Entry

An ID card that allows you to bypass long customs lines when re-entering the U.S. There is a tedious application, an application fee (last I checked it was about $100, though my fee was waived courtesy of my Chase Sapphire Reserved card) and an in-person interview, though if you believe time is money, Global Entry is worth it. The extensive process has paid me back in time saved.

The card is linked to your passport though, so you’ll all need a valid passport for the application.

The flight-planning app: Hopper

I was on a press trip in Houston once and delighted to hear that the other attendees (fellow travel writers themselves) were a fan of this price tracker. While I don’t use this app as the end all be all for purchasing flights, its been helpful for alerting me – based on historical data – when flights are usually more or less expensive.

It also suggests adjustments in order to snag a cheaper fare, like flying out or into a neighboring airport or choosing to travel on a different day of the week.

The news service (that’s actually fun to read): theSkimm

Sometimes I get so caught up and distracted when I’m in a new destination that my morning news consumption routine goes out the window. Plus, there is a lot of interesting people watching to be had at airports. This daily e-newsletter founded by two former NBC journalists provides a snappy, sometimes snarky but always entertaining yet informative summary of current events. Each summary comes with theSkimm, or the ‘so what’ factor of the news. They help contextualize what’s going on in the world today in a way that I (and I feel like many Millennials) can understand.

It’s perfect for taking a few minutes from people watching in the airport terminal, or when I have some downtime in my Airbnb, or when I’m scrolling through Instagram and realize I could probably be using my idle time more productively.

*Some links are affiliate links, which mean that if you sign-up or purchase I may get some perks, like more rewards points, a discount etc.