The Travel Companies I Use

By Nomadic Matt | Published December 22nd, 2010

at the airport in bangkokI get bombarded with PR emails every day; I see a lot of travel websites and get offers to try a lot of products. I get to see the good, the bad, and the ones with potential. People always ask me which companies I work with and which ones are the best. I wrote about my favorite travel companies early last year, but I thought I’d expand the list and name my favorite travel companies of 2010.

Seat Guru – Seat Guru lets you see the layout and configuration of all the airlines’ airplanes in the world. It comes in quite handy when I am picking seats on a plane. Seat Guru is definitely worth using, especially if you’re trying to decide if it’s worth using points to upgrade. Some planes are old and you aren’t going to get that many amenities and checking the planes on Seat Guru can help you plan better.

World Nomads – If I need travel insurance I use World Nomads. I like their coverage and their price. There are a lot of companies that sell travel insurance as it’s big business but I wouldn’t use anyone else. When problems arise, World Nomads has a great reputation for getting involved and getting travelers the help that they need. They have excellent customer service and they are very supportive of the blogging community, which makes me like them even more.

reading a guidebookLonely Planet – I love their guidebooks as they appeal to my travel style. I like how they are all over Twitter and other forms of social media. Mostly, I find their guidebooks better laid out than other travel guides. Travel guides come down to personal preference and LP is mine. (Guidebooks shouldn’t be used as the only thing you use when you travel. There are a lot of good other alternatives that you should also use.)

Huffington Post Travel Section – This where I get my travel news, interesting stories, and other travel related facts. They link to articles all over the web so its easy to find stories. I’d rather search one website for my news than 100.

G Adventures – The only tour company I use, Gap Adventures offers the most affordable tours out there and they are very eco-friendly. Moreover, the company is really involved in social media. Every employee has a twitter account and the company blog is constantly updated.

Momondo – I mostly book with American Airlines since I like to keep my Oneworld elite status. I find all my long haul flights on Momondo when I can’t use Oneworld. I don’t know how their flight search algorithm works but it always seems to find the deals that are hundreds cheaper than other sites. Plus, they sponsored TBEX Europe and I like companies that support the blogging world.

Skyscanner –This is the best site for finding cheap ticket deals on low cost and budget airlines. Whenever I book flights around Europe, for example, I use Skyscanner to compare all the budget airlines.

REI –They have the best gear. I still have my Mars REI backpack after 4 ½ years of beating it up on the road. I believe any serious traveler should purchase all their gear from REI. Their products last forever. My backpack looks just as good as it did the day I bought it. (Here are my tips for buying a backpack.)

couchsurfing on a stranger's couchBest Buy – As a digital nomad, I use a lot of electronics. Cameras, video cameras, iPhone, converters, etc. They need to be bought somewhere. If I’m not buying them cheap in Asia, I’m buying them from Best Buy. They have a great selection and deals.

Couchsurfing – A great site for finding free accommodation when you travel. The site connects travelers with locals offering free accommodation. It’s been around for ages and it’s still one of the best sites out there, although it could use a bit of a redesign! I’ve used it many times and I hosted my first people this summer in New York.

Trip It – This is an app for your smartphone. It’s great. It tracks your reservations and keeps you updated on changes to your itinerary. For people who travel a lot and have multiple itineraries to manage, this app can help keep you organized.

STA Travel – I don’t use STA as much as I used to. I’m not a student or younger than 26. However, when I was either of them, I used STA a lot. They have great deals for students and young adults. I especially like their blue airline tickets because they are cheaper than regular airline tickets. I always managed to save money going through them and I recommend them for young travelers.

Priceline/Hotwire – For the few times a year I actually do get a hotel room, I use either Priceline or Hotwire to find cheap hotel rooms. They usually offer great rates, especially if you name your own price. I’ve gotten 4 star hotels for 100 USD per night in New York City. That is a good deal! I’ve had better luck with deals on Hotwire than Priceline but it’s good to check both.

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!

comments 29 Comments

Jim

Good choice of companies. Glad to see Gap Adventures up there.
Seat Guru is invaluable for getting that best seat on a plane, but did you have to tell everyone? :-)

NomadicMatt

I’m not good at keeping secrets!

Matt, and did you know that I am not the Engineering Director at TripAdvisor in charge of SeatGuru.com? Oh course I am also in charge of TripAdvisor.com/Flights which, if you like Skyscanner and Momondo, you should check out.

NomadicMatt

I heard something about you and seat guru :)

great resources, matt – thanks!

Andrew

Great choices in this article. I always use Best Buy for my electronics fix too. Cant go wrong with Lonely Planet and I have saved hundreds on bidding for hotels on Priceline.

I’m a LP gal myself! :)

rebecca

I compare flight search sites incessantly. I still have yet to find one that beats Tripadvisor for the finding the best deal. Even Kayak doesn’t find the best prices anymore.

Also, sorry to say but I currently am a student and I think STA and Student Universe are completely useless.

lucy

Hostelworld still does charge a booking fee, but not directly to the consumer. They charge the hostel for each booking. Essentially you’re still paying a booking fee because the hostels will build it into their price.

otherwise… I’m a skyscanner and LP addict!

NomadicMatt

But either way, you still pay the fee. Plus, they are pretty aggressive with hostel owners so when I learned how they do business, I wasn’t too excited.

Eric

It is nice that Hostelbookers doesn’t charge a booking fee, but Hostelworld does often have more available beds and hostels in their system and it covers more cities.

That’s why Hostelz.com is great … it actually lets you search Hostelbookers, HostelWorld, Hostelsclub, and other hostel booking sites all at once so you can find out which has available beds… and you can also see which booking system has the lowest price!

Good list Matt! I love REI and hostelbookers as well. And priceline – i’ve gotten great hotels on there for cheap in the past. The best thing about REI is the return policy. I’ve returned many things that didn’t hold up and will soon be returning Randy’s backpack since it completely broke on the trip. This is a great list!

Jill - Jack and Jill Travel The World

REI’s great! I’ve heard great things about Momondo, but haven’t personally checked them out yet.

Hi Matt,

Just wanted to say “thanks” for the mention in today’s article; we’re all flattered here at Skyscanner to have been included with such excellent company!

Have a great Holiday and safe travels!

-Scot

NomadicMatt

You run a good company. What can I say! You’re welcome.

Agree on Skyscanner – great resource for finding cheap tickets around Europe.

Hostelworld’s fees are a bit frustrating, but their directory seems to have a better selection of hostels and I like their feedback system. I reckon you could very easily get yourself a free Gold Card too for booking without fees.

Lonely Planet is one of the best.

You’re right, the layout of Lonely Planet is just perfect. Maybe because they were the first guide books I used, but no other guides seem to have info presented so intuitively. The maps are great too. I’m not super big on Frommers but they do have pretty much their entire guides online — which is nice when you need to quickly look something up on the road.

Skyscanner is great. Also like WhichBudget.com for a more simple list of the carriers that serve different airports.

I like SeatExpert.com for airline seating. And VRBO.com (for rentals), TravelZoo (for last minute deals), and Seat61.com (for the best train info site on the web).

Great post Matt.

NomadicMatt

Seat61.com is a great site for train travel.

Just ran some flights through Momondo and found they were a bit lower on 1 flight, but I found 1 thing to be very random with them (which I assume is not due to their system, but the airlines). They have the option to select the number of travelers after selecting the flight. Once you do that, a pop-up appears warning you that the prices might not be the same if you chose more than 1 traveler.

Sure enough, when I selected 2 travelers, the price nearly doubled for each passenger. Ouch!

Momondo is wonderful! I always use it to get great deals. Booked flights with them to the UK, Seoul, Amsterdam and Turkey before. Will be using them to book UK->Copenhagen, too! Can’t recommend them highly enough, and I always refer friends to them, too.

LP are my guidebook of choice, too. Though sometimes I find them a little too over-enthuastic about places that are, frankly, hovels *cough*Gaziantep in Turkey*cough*

CouchSurfing is another I love as well! It’s connected me with loads of great people around the world, and saved me a few pennies on hostels in Istanbul and Sydney.

I just started reading the Huffington Post and I’m lovin it! Wait… that’s a McDonald’s slogan…

Anyways good bundle of resources, I need to start finding more online resources, I’m sick of lugging around thick travel resource books and trying to swap them in each country. Maybe attempt flashpacking!

NomadicMatt

I use iphone apps so everything is digitized.

I liked the links to skyscanner and hostelbookers. I didn’t know about these websites before. I’m planning a trip to Geneva soon and it looks like it will be cheaper than I expected.

NomadicMatt

Glad I can be of help!

The best site for cheap flights and hotels is in my opinion:http://www.travelmarket.com/ Have you tried that one before?

Great informative article, i like skyscanner , I think it is the fastest booking engine, you don’t have to waste time waiting for page loading. Thanks

Great list, I’m glad you shared this. I’m going to keep it bookmarked for my holiday planning after summer.

Of course one of the main reasons people fail to save money to travel is that their lifestyle often exceeds the difference between both the the money they earn and their monthly expenditure. Keeping a track of outgoings is easier said than done. Like you mentioned money just seems to leak and its difficult to cut back on things that you’ve become so accustomed to.

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