You can use the companies and resources below to better plan and book your trip. All the companies listed here are the ones I use when I travel. I consider them the best companies out there and the ones that continually offer the best deals.
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.
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%.
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.
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 2006 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.
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 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.
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.
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.
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.
Top Travel Credit Cards
Travel credit cards offer huge sign-up bonuses that help you travel for free. They are worth getting. I’ve listed my favorites:
This is my favorite rewards card. You can earn up to 30,000 bonus points when you get the card as well as a 20% transfer bonus when you move 20,000 to any participating airline (my favorite feature)! There’s no annual fee the first year ($65 per year after that). I use this card for all my day-to-day spending.
Another great card with a 40,000 Ultimate Rewards spend $3,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. You can transfer those points to companies like United, Hyatt, Amtrak, and more. This card comes with no overseas transaction fee and an introductory annual fee of $0 the first year, then $95. This is my second favorite rewards card after the Starwood card and the one I use when I’m overseas.
This card is one of the best credit cards out there. It gives you 40,000 points after spending $3,000. That’s worth $440 in airline credit. There’s no foreign transaction fees, you get two points per dollar spent and 10% back on redemptions. If you aren’t loyal to any specific travel brand, you should get this card. It’s one of the best.
Loyal to American Airlines? Get their credit card. You get up to 35,000 bonus miles when you sign up plus priority access, and free checked bags. You should always have the credit card of the airline you are most loyal to (in my case American).
Loyal to United? Get their credit card. You get with 30,000 bonus miles after you spend $1,000 in the first 3 months, free checked bags, no foreign transaction fees, priority boarding, and two United club passes. There is a $0 intro annual fee for the first year, then $95 each year after.
With this card, you get up to 30,000 bonus miles with your first purchase, reduced reward redemptions, annual companion passes and free checked bags. This is a good card to get because when US airways mergers with American, your frequent flier accounts will get combined. Plus, the easy to get bonus miles are worth a free domestic flight.
American Express Platinum Card (Canada)
The public offer for this card is 50,000 Bonus Membership Rewards points after spending $1,000 in the first 3 months and comes with a $699 annual fee. Referral offers of 60,000 Bonus Membership Rewards points after spending $1,000 in the first 3 months are also available via this FlyerTalk thread.
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.
My Favorite Travel Books/Movies
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: Three Friends. Four Continents. One Unconventional Detour Around the World. 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: Tales of Crashpads, Crew Drama, and Crazy Passengers at 35,000 Feet 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: A True Story of Friendship, Cocaine, and South America’s Strangest Jail by James MacFadden
Paris Was Ours by Penelope Rowlands
The Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert
The Art of Travel
City of God
The Darjeeling Limited
A Good Year
Indiana Jones: The Complete Adventures
Into the Wild
Last Stop for Paul
Lawrence of Arabia
Midnight in Paris
The Motorcycle Diaries
Nowhere in Africa
The Secret Life of Walter Mitty
Seven Years In Tibet
Thelma & Louise
Up in the Air
Vicky Cristina Barcelona
Y Tu Mama Tambien