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.
My All Time Favorite Sites
I buy all my travel insurance from World Nomads. They have great customer service, competitive prices, and in-depth coverage. I’ve been using them since I started traveling in 2003. They are also recommended by Lonely Planet and National Geographic so you know they are good.
The best hostel accommodation site out there with the largest inventory, best search interface, and highest availability. I use them for all my hostel bookings. And, since they bought their competitor Hostelbookers, they are the biggest game in town.
This is my all time favorite search engine. They always seem to find airlines that offer the best deals and their calendar view lets you see which days are cheapest to fly. I like them because they search the small booking sites no one else does. I make this my starting point for all flight searches.
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.
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 I take at least two tours a year with them. And, as a reader of this site, you’ll get 10% off all tours over $500!!
If you are going to Europe and taking a lot of trains, get a rail pass. 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. You can read about my experience using rail passes by clicking this link.
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 to lead tours (i.e. a chef to lead a food tour), which is why these tours are some of my favorite.
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!
I enjoy this site because it allows you to experience niche, offbeat, and interesting tours that bigger tour companies might not run (like a street art tour in Los Angeles). Plus, the groups tend to be very small, making for a more intimate experience.
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.
This company is a leader in round the world tickets. Their booking engine will allow you to construct itineraries using multiple airlines so you can piece together the best deals. Their staff is excellent and really knows their stuff.
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 larger sites miss. While I always start with Momondo, I’ll often check this site too as a way to price compare.
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.
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’re new to Airbnb, get $35 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, wide selection, and no money down policy. They are especially good for listing in developing countries.
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.
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.
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%.
Looking to become a better blogger, photographer, or writer? I’ve created an online travel media school and partnered with industry experts to teach you the skills you need to succeed in the digital travel space. These have a step-by-step courses that features monthly webinars, Facebook groups, teacher feedback, and tons of expert interviews and guest lecturers!
Hostgator is my favorite hosting company and great for bloggers just starting out. Their prices are cheap and their servers stay on and I enjoy their customer service. In fact, I still host a few sites on them! If you’re looking for a reliable hosting company, I recommend them.
I’ve been using Aweber to send all my emails for years. They have a easy to use interface, let you set up autoresponders, create tags,and have stellar customer service! If you are looking for an easy to use, straight forward email provider, this is the best one to use.
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!
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.
BlaBlaCar is a ridesharing website that lets you share rides with vetted local drivers by pitching in for gas. You simply request a seat, they approve, and off you go! It’s a cheap and much more interesting way to get from point A to point B than by bus or train!
This Craiglist like site is an amazing resource for travelers. You can find travel partners, rideshares, jobs, second hand gear, homestays, and much more. It is an amazing website for travelers of all kind!
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.
If you are looking to volunteer when you travel and want to support good organizations, this website compiles a list of ethical and responsible local volunteer organizations that keeps the money within the community and not in the hands of a big organiation. This is a tremendous resource for anyone wanting to volunteer overseas.
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 his 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.
HelpX is one of the best places to find work and volunteer opportunities when you travel. They have farms, farmstays, homestays, B&Bs, hostels, and sailing boats who invite volunteers to stay with them short-term in exchange for food and accommodation.
This is another wonderful job finding website! Workaway is a lot like HelpX except this website has more paid job opportunities for when you travel, though it also has volunteer opportunities too.
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. I’ve used Benny’s tools to help me learn French and Swedish.
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.
If you are a traveler and live in the U.S., 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.
This website allows you to eat home cooked meal with locals. Locals post listings for dinner parties and specialty meals that you can sign up for. There is a fee (everyone sets their own price) but this is a great way to do something different, pick a local’s brain, and make a new friend.
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
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.