I’ve planned and booked a lot of trips all over the world and the companies listed below are the exact ones I use when I travel. I’m a firm believer in them and that’s why they are listed. They are the best out there, and continually offer the best deals, including some Nomadic Matt exclusives. Check back here before your book your trip for the latest updates.
I buy all my travel insurance from World Nomads. They have great customer service, competitive prices, and in depth coverage. I’ve been using this company since I started traveling in 2003 and think they are the best. They are also recommended by Lonely Planet and National Geographic.
Everyone has their own guidebook preference. Lonely Planet is mine. I like the look of their guides, organization, light weight, and emphasis on budget travel. Lonely Planet also redesigned their books in 2011 and they are now better organized with more photos and better maps.
I’ve had the same REI backpack with me for the last 6 years and it’s as good now as it was the day I bought it. Their products will last you a long time. Because the quality has been so great, I purchase all my travel gear through them. For more on picking the perfect backpack, read this article.
If you are going to visit Europe and plan on taking a lot of trains, get a rail pass. You will save money a lot of money. I’ve used a rail pass three times and saved hundreds of dollars each time. The math just works. I use the company Rail Europe and suggest you do too. They even ship passes for free. You can read about my experience using rail passes and a breakdown of my savings by clicking this link.
If you are a traveler and live in the U.S., you should get T-Mobile. T-Mobile gives their users contract-free plans (starting at $50 per month) with free international data and text messaging in over 100 countries — plus all calls while in those countries are only 20 cents a minute. I’ve been using them for years and love them. They are the best option if you bounce in and out of the U.S. often (like me!).
They offer good small group tours that use expert guides and leave a small environmental footprint. If you go on a tour with anyone, go with them. They are my favorite multi-day tour operator. And, as a reader of this site, you’ll get 10% off all tours over $500 with the code “20331”.
A good company for those under 26 or are students. They offer discounted airfare as well as travel passes that save on attractions. I don’t use them that much anymore since I’m way over 26 but if you aren’t, make sure to check them out.
This company is a leader in RTW tickets. They offer some very good deals and, if you are interested in purchasing a round the world ticket, it’s best to call and get a quote from them first. They know their stuff.
One of my favorite walking tour companies, Context offers in-depth history, food, and cultural tours through cities in the world, with a speciality in Europe. This company gets experts in their field to lead tours (i.e. a chef to lead a food tour or an art historian to talk about art), which is why these tours are good.
Another amazing walking tour company, this company specializes in walking tours in NYC, Italy, and Istanbul. They specialize in behind the scenes tours that give you access to places no one else can get you. I love their tours, especially their food ones!
A good flight search engine for fares leaving from the United States. They search a wide variety of airline and other flight brokers (Kayak is what is known as a meta search engine). I think they are a great starting point for searching for cheap airline tickets, especially if you are based in the US.
A great flight search engine, especially for international flights outside the US. It’s one of my main starting points for when I book international tickets and I’ve found fares on their site hundreds of dollars cheaper than I’ve found elsewhere.
This great website searches a lot of different airlines, including many of the budget carriers that sites like Kayak miss. This site should be involved in your search for cheap flights.
This is one of my all time favorite search engines. They always seem to find airlines that offer the best deals. I tend to make this my starting point for all international flights.
This website monitors airline ticket prices and will alert you when deals occur. They find a lot of unadvertised fares and I highly recommend signing up for their newsletter. This is one of the best websites on the Internet to find airfare.
One of the best flight search engines out there, Google Flights lets you enter your departure airport and see flights all over the world in a map so you can see where the cheapest destination in. They also suggest different dates for cheaper flights. You can’t book here so I start here before booking with Momondo.
Another good accommodation alternative, this site connects with homeowners who rent out their homes/apartments to you. You’ll get all the comforts of home, the chance to stay in a local, non-touristy part of where you are going, and pay a fraction of the cost of a hotel room. If you sign-up for the service using the link here, you’ll get $25 off your first stay!
An amazing website for accommodation in Asia. This should be your primary accommodation website for guesthouses and hotels in Asia. They have the most robust inventory and offer the best rates. When I travel around Asia, I don’t use anyone else.
Booking.com provides great resource and booking site for cheap hotels and other accommodation. I like their easy to use interface too.
This is probably the hotel site I use most. I really enjoy their blind booking process. They essentially say “we have a super rate on a 3 star hotel in New York’s Time Square” and you book it without knowing the hotel. While that sounds scary, I’ve never ended up in a bad hotel and have saved a ton of money in the process. Highly recommended site.
The best hostel accommodation site out there with the largest inventory, best search interface, and availability. I use them for my bookings and they are an official sponsor of this website.
This website allows you to stay on people’s couches or spare rooms for free. It’s a great way to save money while meeting locals who can tell you much more about a city than you will find out in a hostel/hotel. I have used this website dozens of times and the site also has groups where you can meet up for events in your city.
Not my favorite website but they do a really good deals on cruises, hotels, and sometimes flights. Better flight booking sites are Kayak and Vayama. However, for cruises and package deals, you really can’t beat Expedia. They also have a really good loyalty program.
One of my favorite hotel sites because it allows you to bid on hotels and save a lot more money than just by booking directly. When used in conjunction with the bidding site Better Bidding, you can substantially lower the cost of your hotels by as much as 60%.
If you are looking for a good TEFL class, check out I-to-I. They run online courses, are cheaper than their competition, widely recognized, and will help you find a job. I highly recommend them over any other company if you are looking for to get a TEFL in order to teach English overseas.
This website is the ultimate guide to train travel anywhere in the world. They have the most comprehensive information on routes, times, prices, and train conditions. If you are planning a long train journey or some epic train trip, consult this site.
This website allows you to see how to get from point A to point B the best and cheapest way possible. Just enter your departure and arrival destinations and it will give you all the bus, train, plane, or boat routes that can get you there as well as how much they cost. One of the best transportation website out there!
Great website showcasing highly-discounted last minute tours and hotels. Great for the last minute planner.
If you are looking to volunteer when you travel and want to support good organizations, use this website. It compiles a list of good local volunteer organizations that keep the money within the community. This is a tremendous resource for anyone wanting to volunteer overseas.
This company works voodoo magic and searches the web for the cheapest cruises on the web, sometimes as cheap as $27 a night. This may not be your typical cruising website but a deal is a deal. This website is especially good for repositioning cruises across oceans.
This book is the best resource for those looking to work on a cruise ship. The author, Wandering Earl, spent close to a decade working on ships and has created this phenomenal book that will help you find jobs, learn about the application process, experience, how to interview, and much more. It’s the only book I know of that puts the secrets of working on a cruise ship in one place.
Speaking the local language is an important part of traveling. Best selling author Benny Lewis of Fluent in 3 Months has a series of guides that can help you learn the basics of any language for your trip. If you want to learn a language, this is the best course to get. I’ve used Benny’s tools to help me pick up French and Swedish. It’s way better than Rosetta Stone (which I tried and hated).
Books & Movies
My Favorite Travel Books
- The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho
- On the Road by Jack Kerouac
- Do Travel Writers Go to Hell? by Thomas Kohnstamm
- Unlikely Destinations: The Lonely Planet Story by Tony Wheeler
- The Beach by Alex Garland
- Oracle Bones by Peter Hessler
- Smile When You’re Lying by Chuck Thompson
- Vagabonding by Rolf Potts
- Seven Years in Tibet by Heinrich Harrer
- In a Sunburned Country by Bill Bryson
- The Geography of Bliss by Eric Weiner
- The Lost Girls by The Lost Girls
- The Longest Way Home by Andrew McCarthy
- The Great Railway Bazaar by Paul Theroux
- The Sex Lives of Cannibals: Adrift in the Pacific by J. Maarten Troost
- Eat, Pray, Love by Elizabeth Gilbert
- Cruising Attitude by Heather Poole
- The Good Girl’s Guide to Getting Lost by Rachel Friedman
- Love With a Chance of Drowning by Torre DeRoche
- The Turk Who Loved Apples by Matt Gross
- Turn Right at Machu Picchu by Mark Adams
- Holy Cow: An Indian Adventure by Sarah MacDonald
- Marching Powder by James MacFadden
- Paris Was Ours by Penelope Rowlands
- Anything by Bill Bryson
Get More Book Suggestions
My Favorite Travel Movies
- The Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert
- The Art of Travel
- The Beach
- City of God
- The Darjeeling Limited
- A Good Year
- The Hangover
- Indiana Jones: The Complete Adventures
- Into the Wild
- Last Stop for Paul
- Lawrence of Arabia
- Lost in Translation
- Midnight in Paris
- Monsoon Wedding
- The Motorcycle Diaries
- Nowhere in Africa
- Romancing the Stone
- The Secret Life of Walter Mitty
- Seven Years In Tibet
- Thelma & Louise
- The Way
- Up in the Air
- Vicky Cristina Barcelona
- Y Tu Mama Tambien
Disclosure: Please note that some of the links above are affiliate links, and at no additional cost to you, I earn a commission if you make a purchase. I use all the companies listed and I recommend them because they rock and have made my travels better. If you are ready to book your trip and would like to support this website in some way, using these links will help do exactly that. Everybody wins and if you have any questions about the companies, e-mail me. I’m happy to answer any questions about the companies you have.