Our philosophy here at DIY Travel HQ is to help everyone travel longer for less.

Here are the tricks of our trade and the tools we use to travel and blog our way around this big, beautiful world…

Antigua Photo Walk Photographers in Need of Help

Hey there! It’s us – Sheena & Erik – at Chichen Itza, Mexico!


Google Flights – We’ve recently started using Google Flights more and more. We love being able to see prices via calendar view and all of the flight options at the click of a button.

Skyscanner – Our long-time favourite has been less appealing lately. Many of their prices are inaccurate or based on dubious 3rd party websites. We still use it to do flexible searches by month, country or (the all-time greatest feature) Everywhere!

Hopper – We’ve just started using this app and have been finding it quite handy to keep an eye on prices. It’s great that Hopper uses historical data for it’s price predictions and advice on the best time to book.

Expedia – We use Expedia to check prices but we don’t like that you can only search by the day. We haven’t booked a flight directly with Expedia before but their prices are competitive. My mum recently booked a flight with them over Qantas as the prices were identical but Expedia charged a lower credit card fee and their online booking process was easier.

Airlines – After checking flights with the above sites we go to the airlines websites directly to verify the prices. They aren’t always cheaper but if so we prefer to book with airlines directly.

Google – We’re pretty familiar with which airlines fly where but if we are searching a lesser-known destination we’ll do a Google search to find out which airlines fly there (Wiki usually has a list). 3rd party airlines don’t show all available flights.

Woman standing in airport in front of departure screen

The hardest part is deciding where to go…


Couchsurfing – There’s no way we would’ve been able to travel as much as we had in the early days without couch surfing. We’ve surfed on 70+ couches – that’s free accommodation in over 20 countries across 5 continents. These days we value our own time & privacy more but we still use couch surfing ocassionaly in more expensive cities, when we’re traveling alone or when we are slow traveling and have more time to spend with hosts.

Hostelworld – This is our go-to site for booking hostels around the world and we’ve been using it for as long as we’ve been traveling (over 10 years).

Booking.com – Our favourite accommodation booking site is easy to use with photos and reviews to help you decide where to stay. It offers the best prices, free cancellations & Genius discounts for frequent users.

Airbnb –  We were late to jump on the Airbnb bandwagon but now we love it! We used it all throughout the UK (where hotels were much more expensive) and we’ll be booking Airbnb for our upcoming New Mexico, US trip too. It’s like paid couchsurfing but with less unspoken obligations as a guest and more reliable hosts.

Hotel room at Casa Cristina

Stay at Casa Cristina in Antigua, Guatemala

Travel Insurance

World Nomads – We’ve been using World Nomads ever since we started travelling over 10 years ago. They’re the cheapest provider I’ve come across for Australians. I’m not familiar with travel insurance for Americans but Erik uses World Nomads too. I’ve made several claims over the years without any issues.

* Check out our guide on Travel Insurance for Backpacking

Travel insurance for backpacking

World Nomads covered my overnight stay & 16 consultations at a Beijing hospital

Car Rental

Europcar – We collaborated with Europcar in the UK and had a fantastic car rental experience. Their prices are always competitive, if not the cheapest.

* Check out our guide on: 

How to Plan a Hire a Car in the UK

UK Road Trip Planner

We recommend Europcar for any road trip!


Pacsafe X40 Backpack – We believe that this is the best backpack on the market. It’s lightweight with supportive and comfortable straps. It has excellent anti-theft features such as hidden pockets and smart zipper security. We each have a Pacsafe Backpack!

LifeStraw Water Bottle – This is our favourite travel product. We used lifestraw to safely drink tap water on our 1.5 year trip around Asia, Central America and Europe – saving money & the environment. Say goodbye to water bottles forever.

El Imposible National Park Filling LifeStraw with Stream Water

LifeStraw allows you to drink any water safely and straight away


Nikon D3300 – Our trusty dSlR camera never lets us down. We even re-bought the exact same model after we were robbed in Panama. The Nikon D3300 takes fantastic photos, especially outdoors and even on auto settings.

Nikon D7500 – Our new camera delivers excellent image quality and can shoot 4D ultra HD video. It has a tilting touchscreen for shooting in different angles and 51 focus points. With so many features it really inspires us to   take our photography to the next level.

NIKKOR 55-300mm Zoom – This lens helps us to capture subjects in the distance, particularly wildlife. The VR II image stabilization produces sharper images and more stable video.

Sigma 10-20mm Super Wide Angle – This lens is awesome for landscapes and group photos (like weddings) as it captures wider views and a greater depth of field. It’s also fantastic for shooting in tight spaces indoors, such as hotel rooms.

Tamron 90mm Macro – We use this lens mainly for taking photos of food people animals and when we really want to focus in on a subject. It produces really sharp images and it works especially well in low light.

ZOMEI Portable Tripod – It’s easy to travel with this compact and lightweight tripod. It can be configured in different positions, giving flexibility to capture a wider variety of angles.

GoPro HERO6 – We take our GoPro along on all our adventures, especially on diving and snorkelling trips. Now featuring a new touch zoom and an updated 2 inch display, we hope to upgrade to the HERO6 in the near future.

* Check out our guides on: 

Best Travel Cameras in 2018

Best GoPro Travel Accessories in 2018

Antigua Photo Walk Expensive Camera Not Needed

You’ll never find us without a camera!


MacBook Air – As a blogger I always travel with my MacBook Air. I prefer using a laptop and I can work on the road, as well as back-up my photos here as I go.

ASUS ZenBook – Erik’s laptop is even lighter than my MacBook Air – and also lighting fast. The resolution is superb and it features and touchscreen and a fingerprint sensor in the touchpad. It’s one of the best options if you prefer using Windows.

Samsung Galaxy S8 – Erik’s phone offers the best value for money in it’s range, in our opinion. The camera takes excellent photos and video. The battery life is amazing and it charges fast. The Infinity display gives the impression of a (crystal clear) wider screen, so it still fits nicely in your pocket and is comfortable to hold.

Moto G5 Plus – This was my awesome smartphone before I was pickpocketed in Nepal. It has fantastic features and a high quality 12MP camera at a budget price. I replaced it with the basic Samsung Galaxy J2 Pro but I’m on the lookout for a major upgrade to the Samsung Galaxy S9 or the Google Pixel 2.

WD Portable Hard Drive – We travel with a hard drive to ensure that our photos are backed-up on multiple devices. With some formatting, it can be used on Macs & PCs. We have also used Seagate and Toshiba hard drives in the past, without any issues, but we feel that Western Digital is the more reliable brand.

* Check out our guide on:

Things to Know About Smartphones for Travel

Devices Macbook Gadgets

So many electronics, so little time…


Maps.me – We freakin love Maps.me! We use it in our daily life but it’s a saviour when we’re traveling and don’t have data. You simply download offline maps for your destination and you’re good to go! There are also many hiking trails mapped out so it’s really helped us hike independently, all around the world, without tours or guides.

SmartNews – This is another one of our faves! It helps us to stay up-to-date with the news and provides us with plenty of reading material on those long transportation journeys.

Google Translate – It’s not always 100% accurate and there are sometimes awkward translations but this app is definitely a life saver when traveling in foreign countries. We find it really handy in restaurants in working out what to order!

Google Keep – We keep notes in Google Keep! You can also make lists and check them off as you go. Best of all everything is automatically backed-up to your Google account when connected to the internet.

Trabee Pocket – If you like to keep track of your expenses on the road this is the best app for it. You can classify your expenses into the different categories, it’s strangely addictive!

Prey Anti-Theft – This app helps to locate lost or stolen phones. It gives you remote access to your phone to erase data, take pictures of the thief, or use GPS to find your phone. Best of all, it hides in the background so no one knows the app even exists.

* Check out our guide on:

Top 20 Free Backpacking Apps

Europcar Car Rental

Apps can make life on the road much easier & more enjoyable


Bluehost – They’ve been our web host for the blog since 2015 and we’ve been impressed with their customer service. Whenever we have any questions or issues we jump on live chat and are able to sort it out. We recently upgraded from the $3.95 a month service to the $30 a month VPS.

X Theme – We built & designed our website ourselves using X Theme. There are so many options that it can become really overwhelming – but if we can do it, anyone can. The best thing about X Theme is the support from the Apex Forum. You can ask any question there and the customer service team will respond and help you create your website every step of the way.

Namecheap – GoDaddy is actually our current domain name registrar however we’ll be switching over to Namecheap shortly, based mainly on price.

Keysearch – It took us awhile to understand the importance of SEO. Unfortunately great content only gets you so far – you need to help people find it. Keysearch helps you target keywords based on volume and competitively among other factors. Use our discount code for 20% off.

Tailwind – We recently signed up to Tailwind which allows us to schedule pins easily to post at optimal times on Pinterest. Use our discount code for 20% off (coming soon).

Lightroom – We’ve just started using Lightroom to edit our photos and we’re excited to learn how to create presets.

* Check out our guides on: 

How to Start a Travel Blog

How to Choose a Travel Blog Niche

Namecheap vs GoDaddy

Notebook laptop coffee phone on wooden table

The essential tools of a blogger!

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