This page lists travel related companies and products that I recommend. I personally use most of them during my travels, because I have found that they offer the best combination of low prices and good service. In addition to providing recommendations, I will try to make monthly discounts, special offers or coupon codes available to you. You can find these in the sidebar to the right.
I always start with Vayama when I’m looking to buy airline tickets because they generally find great prices and I like their interface. That said I almost always check individual airline sites and I use the ‘compare prices’ feature on Vayama’s site to check fares on all the other major booking sites as well, before actually booking a flight.
Agoda is my favorite hotel booking site because they have a large number of listings, ranging from budget to luxury, for even remote locations and their selection is constantly growing. They offer great prices and their site is easy to use. Most importantly for me, they have great accommodation maps for all their locations. I rarely book accommodation in advance, but I still always check their maps to find out the best area to look for a room once I arrive and to make a list of a few places I want to check out first.
In conjunction with Agoda, I always check Hostelworld as well. This site focuses on the budget range and will occasionally list places Agoda has not yet picked up. Even if they have the same places, it’s nice to have another set of customer reviews to help me make a decision.
This website puts you in touch with locals who are looking to offer travelers a free place to crash. In return, they hope to practice their language skills and learn about your culture. It’s a great arrangement and a wonderful way to travel cheaply. That said, I’ve never used it myself, because I don’t like feeling obligated to spend time with someone I might not like.
Tour and Cruise Bookings
I have never actually booked a tour myself as I’ve always traveled on my own, so I don’t have a first-hand recommendation here. However, I did a lot of research and it quickly became clear that G Adventures enjoys an excellent reputation among travel professionals. They seem to be partnered with a lot of the major travel bloggers and every one who’s experienced one of their tours has only good things to say. They offer much more adventurous tours, with a local or authentic feel, than what you’d usually expect and if I ever decide to travel on a tour, I will certainly use them.
I realize I could have listed them under flights or hotels, but in my experience, the sites above do those things better. Expedia is excellent for package deals and cruises though, as they often have huge discounts.
Another category where I have no experience—yup, I’m one of those idiots who doesn’t bother with insurance. When researching travel insurance, World Nomads kept coming up. Most travel bloggers use them and they’re recommended by lonely planet. Their website also offers a lot of extras, including travel alerts, trip planning advice and a community of travelers where you can ask questions about locations and get answers from people who’ve been there.
I don’t generally use guidebooks to travel anymore, but when I did I used Lonely Planet and when I occasionally flip though one in a hostel for a little advice, it’s always a Lonely Planet too. They do an excellent job for most locations.
For backpacks and other travel related gear, I recommend REI. Their backpacks are great and last forever, but really, I’ve been happy with all their products including several sweaters and a jacket.
Currently I am using a Sony Alpha 7 (most of the photos on this site were taken with my previous camera though, the Canon EOS 450D; or with an even older Canon point-and-shoot). It’s the only mirror-less full-frame camera on the market. I have only had it for a few months so far, but I love it already. It has the image quality of the top-end full-frame cameras from Canon and Nikon, but with a much smaller and lighter body. It is perfect for travel.
My main lenses are the Zeiss 55 mm F1.8 Sonnar and the Zeiss 35 mm F2.8 Sonnar. Both are incredibly sharp lenses. In fact, the 55 mm is one of the sharpest lenses period. I love using them both and often have a hard time deciding which one to keep on my camera. The 55 mm is faster and has a slightly higher image quality, but the 35 mm is tiny, making it more fun to walk around with.
I also have the 28-70 mm kit lens, but I rarely even bother putting it in my bag. It’s not a bad lens, but it just can’t touch the other two in terms of quality (few can and they’re all really expensive). The only time I’ll use it is if I need to get wider than 35mm.
For my photo editing I use Adobe Photoshop. I shoot all my pictures in RAW format and I love the RAW editor included with Photoshop—it’s easily the feature I use the most. Adobe Lightroom includes the same RAW editor and many photographers prefer this program, in large part because of its workflow feature. I’ve tried it and did really like it, but I’ve been using Photoshop for so long that I just feel more comfortable with it. Lightroom is quite a bit cheaper though.
I use Bluehost for hosting and have been very happy with them so far. They offer low prices, their servers rarely seem to go down and, most importantly, when I’ve had a problem, they’ve answered my messages almost immediately and continued to stay in contact until the problem was resolved.
I bought my domain names from Namecheap.com, because, as the name would suggest, they’re cheap. It was a little difficult to switch the domain over to Bluehost, so in hindsight, I would probably just buy my domain directly from Bluehost (you get one free domain when you sign up for hosting anyway), if I had to do it over again. That said, now that I know how the process works, I will continue to buy future domains from Namecheap and save a few dollars. They also offer hosting, but I have no experience with their hosting services.
My blog runs on WordPress. I’ve tried all the other major blogging platforms and none of them even come close to WordPress in my opinion. Most of the alternatives are easier to use, so if your needs are limited, perhaps they’re a better option, but not if you’re looking for flexibility.
Disclosure: some of the links on this page are affiliate links.