I think of many of my posts while in the shower. This one just came to me ten minutes ago while I was getting fresh and clean. Rather than sit on it, I’d thought I’d post it now before I forgot all the witty things I was going to say. Everyone has their own favorite travel companies- companies we always use, products we never travel without. Here are my favorites:
For travel insurance, I always use World Nomads. That’s not just because I have a banner for them, but because I like their services (which is why I have their banner up). I do all the ordering online- it’s simple, easy, and everything gets mailed to my house. No fuss, no muss. But I also like how they deal with travelers. They make a big effort to connect with the online travel community, are always running contests and freebies, and even have a cool blog. Their online guy, Chris Noble, is very cool, too.
I’m a pretty lazy guy and so once I start using a brand, I rarely change, which is why I tend to use Lonely Planet guides for most of my travels. However, I rarely use guidebooks these days. After 2 years on the road, I can get by without them. I had one last summer for Europe and opened it twice. However, when I do use them, I use LP or Rough Guides. I tend to use LP for Europe and Asia, and Rough Guides for everywhere else. I don’t know why. I just find it works out well that way.
Travel Discount Cards
Whenever I need a discount card, I head to STA Travel, even though I am not a student. They have all the cards there, even ones for people who aren’t students. If you find yourself in Bangkok, you can buy fake ones, but for the $15 dollars it costs to get a VIP, ISIC, IYIC, or whatever funky card I need, I’ll get the real one. They have saved me bundles.
Travel Credit Card
I used to have a Citi Premier Pass card. They recently changed their rules, requiring you to spend an equal amount of money in order to get your miles, making the card utterly useless. With the redemption rules changed on my Premier Pass card, I switched to Citi AAdvantage card. Now I earn miles for American but it also gets me into the Oneworld system, which has my favorite airline- JAL. But I hate AA. In fact, I’d rather fly Air Canada than AA, and I’d rather walk than fly Air Canada, which doesn’t say much for American. But, this card is the only way to get cheap JAL flights. Sacrifices had to be made.
Online Travel Bulletin Board
Boots N’All. While I love Lonely Planet, their Thorn Tree forum sucks. It’s filled with many useless and asinine posts. Riveting posts like “Can I use an ATM card overseas?” or “Where can I get money?”, or my favorite, “Hey, I landed in country X! I’m so excited!” After scrolling through pages of these, I get frustrated and log off. Boots N’ All doesn’t see as much traffic, but the questions are good and relevant, the answers are useful, the people are nicer, and it’s a bit better organized. If you want a board forum for long term travelers, use Boots.
Without a doubt, the best tour company in the world is Gap Adventures. They were my first tour company, and you never forget your first. But more than that, they offer great tours. I’ve never heard anyone say bad things about them. They are very, very committed to sustainable tourism, supporting local communities, and helping the environment. They offer a lot of flexibility and free time in their tours, so you don’t feel like herded cattle. In fact, so much free time, I ended up getting lost in a jungle when I took them. Interesting story really. No matter where I’d go, they are the only tour company I’d use. They should be the only one you use too.
My REI Mars backpack has been going strong for over two years now. It looks and works as good as the day I bought it. With products that good, I wouldn’t consider buying from anywhere else. The staff at the store is very helpful, and they know a lot about the products they sell- a rarity these days. I am downsizing when I start my next trip this summer, and you can bet money, I’ll be buying REI.
Note: If you want to help support this site and keep it going, using the companies above through the links above when you book your trip, does just that! Please consider it!