The following resources can help you plan the perfect vacation. Everything you need is here, from flights to rental cars, accommodations, and more. Some of these are affiliate links, which means if you make a purchase on their website, I will make a small commission at no additional cost to you.
Flights – My domestic airline of choice is Delta. Any time I can, I fly them because I try to get points and I find them to be good at what they do. If a particular trip doesn’t lend itself to Delta, then American Airlines is my second favorite.
Rental Cars – Why have more people not heard of Fox Rental Cars? I used to use them when I flew regularly to San Diego, because they were the cheapest by far. But their still had good service and their lot in San Diego was easy to get in and out of. However, I will admit to not being brand-committed when it comes to rental cars. Given the high cost, and since I’m not flying overseas, I simply try to drive or use public transportation and Lyft.
Hotels.com – I have very strong feelings about Hotels.com after having some bad customer experiences with them. As such, I no longer recommend them. I suggest you avoid them too.
Booking.com – I do use Booking.com for my own travel, although generally I try to book directly. If you like to use an aggregator, then I have found this one to be better than most others. You’ll see a widget to them in the sidebar if you’re on a computer or at the bottom if you’re on your smartphone. That widget lets you search for accommodations right from this website! If you prefer you can also just click here to go directly to Booking.com (affiliate link; opens in a new tab).
Although I’m not a full-time blogger, I take this business seriously. Here is the software and other resources that I recommend to other bloggers.
WordPress – I like WordPress for blogging because it’s so powerful. It’s more than just a blog platform, too. I actually use its content management system to run all of my websites, even those that don’t have a blog. It can handle static sites, blogs, e-commerce sites, pretty much anything you can think of.
Hosting – I recommend not using WordPress.com to host your site because it’s a limited version of the software and many things can’t run on it. Instead, you should use the self-hosted version and have a GOOD host. Kinsta is the one I recommend. Their platform is top-notch and their customer service is beyond belief. They cost a little more than some of the starter hosts, but the amount you save in lost time and frustration with problems with other hosts is well worth it.
Theme – This blog runs on the Redwood theme by SoloPine, available on Envato’s ThemeForest.com. I used to use Genesis almost exclusively, but they don’t seem to be releasing updates to their themes or any new themes. I still love the Genesis framework if I want to build a theme from scratch, but I rarely do that anymore.
Ad Network – I recommend Ezoic because that’s what I know and use. The ad revenue I make is way more than what I made on Google Adsense! Ezoic isn’t the easiest thing to set up, but once it’s done, you don’t need to do much to maintain it.
Other people love Mediavine, but I have yet to qualify for it. (Feel free to visit more often and help me fix that!!!)
Camera – I use the same camera for both birding photography and landscape photography. One day I’d like to switch to a full-frame camera, but my crop-sensor Canon 7D Mark II works really well. I do still have an old Canon T4I that I’ll use if I want to carry two sets of gear at once. I also share that older camera with two of my children who are interested in photography.
Telephoto Lens – I shoot wildlife almost exclusively with my Sigma 150-500mm telephoto lens. This is not an expensive lens (compared to others with the same amount of zoom, that is). Again, one day I’d like to upgrade, but this works very well for me. Occasionally if I’m shooting something very close, too close for my sigma to focus, I will use the landscape lens mentioned below. I bought my lens in 2014 and it’s no longer available, but the one below is similar and actually zooms to 600mm. I haven’t tried it to know how well it works, but it’s very well rated. (Also if you don’t shoot Canon, make sure to switch to the correct mount for your camera.)
Landscape Lens – For landscapes I usually use my Canon 35mm macro lens. It’s a fixed length, but it’s versatile in that it can do both macros (up close photography with a 1:1 ratio) and regular photography. That means I’m not limited by how close I am to a subject. I also use it for food photography, something I’m trying to learn more and get better at doing.
Backpack – Because I travel a lot with my large camera/lens setup, I need a good quality photography backback to carry it in. I love the Lowepro flipside backpack that I’ve had for a few years. It (just barely!) fits under the seat in front of me on most planes, and comfortably in the overhead bin. In it, I can carry my main camera with the zoom lens attached, as well as the small camera body, one to three more lenses, and various accessories like my tripod mount, battery charger, lens cloths, and more. If I leave out the second camera, I sometimes even pack in snacks or a change of clothing. The removeable compartment dividers make this bag really able to accomplish a lot.
Tripod – My tripod is the AC-1321 by Oben. It’s not a super duper sturdy one, but it’s strong enough for the field work I do and, most importantly, lightweight for travel.
Scheduler: I keep changing the social media scheduler I use, but I think I finally found one I love. It’s called Buffer. The price is reasonable and there are different plans (including a free one) depending on how many profiles you want to manage and how many posts you want to schedule out.
In the past I tried Crowdfire, but it had some bugs that I found annoying. Before that I used Hootsuite, which was good until they tried to raise my price more than 10x what I was originally paying!
The main difference with Crowdfire is its curation tool. It gave me suggested topics to post to my social media channels from other websites, so on weeks where I was swamped, or platforms like Twitter where I want to post more often than I do elsewhere, it allowed me quick access to “filler” that wasn’t fluff.
Selfie Stick: To my kids’ ultimate horror, yes, I use a selfie stick! But not just for selfies. It’s great any time you want a different perspective for a photo or video, such as a birds-eye view or to get out from behind some obstacle. This is the one I use. And I highly recommend it because it’s lasted awhile, and because I lost the remote and the company sent me a new one, no questions asked! I was back in business within just over a week. I love that kind of customer service.