On this page, you’ll find all the travel companies I actually use and recommend, including several stand-out sustainable travel companies.
Note: Many of these are also affiliate links. That means if you click through them to make the travel bookings you’re planning to make anyway, I’ll earn a commission from the travel company. (Without increasing the price you pay. And you’ll still have your Booking.com Genius status, and other loyalty perks with the companies.)
This is a major part of how I earn money from this website and can continue to write the detailed guides and reviews you enjoy here, so thank you for using these links!
Table of contents
- Hotels & Accommodations
- Trains, Ferries & Busses
- Day Trips & Tours
- Travel Insurance
- Language Learning (Free!)
- VPNs & Tech for Travel
Hotels & Accommodations
EcoHotels.com (+ hotel discount!)
EcoHotels.com is a new booking platform that only offers certified sustainable hotels. They have a wider range of of properties than other eco-friendly accommodation platforms (in terms of both geography and price), and they’re a small company themselves.
DISCOUNT: You can save 10% on most hotels on EcoHotels.com with the code MAP10 . This is a pretty rare opportunity to book hotel rooms even months in advance with a discount!
Plum Guide (upscale vacation homes)
And they’ve cut out all the extra fees (cleaning, service fee, taxes…), so what you see as the nightly rate on Plum Guide really is what you pay.
(Here are a few more AirBnb and Couchsurfing alternatives!)
Booking.com (my go-to starting place)
Booking.com is my go-to when I don’t find what I’m looking for on EcoHotels.com. I prefer Booking because it has more useful and easy-to-use filters than other hotel sites – including a filter for “Travel Sustainable Properties.”
(As always, my best tip for sustainable hotels is opt for the small, independent and locally-owned ones. So avoid the big chains on Booking.com.)
Oliver’s Travels (villas for rent + sustainability filters)
Oliver’s Travels is similar to Plum Guide, above, except that all of their properties are villas – perfect for unique group trips. They also have an excellent sustainability filter, with dozens of eco-friendly villas for rent across Europe.
Agoda (best for Asia)
Agoda is the best booking platform for hotels in Asia – they tend to have the most selection and best prices on the continent. (But you can use Agoda to book in other places, as well.)
HotWire.com (last-minute deals!)
Hotwire is useful for finding last-minute hotel deals. I find it works best in big cities in the US, and the most value tends to be when you go for a 4- or 5-star hotel in a city center and let Hotwire choose the exact property for you.
Trains, Ferries & Busses
Omio (my 1st stop)
Omio is my first stop to get the lay of the land (and sea and air) for travel options. It shows train, bus, ferry and flight options in a single search, so it’s perfect for giving you an idea of what options you have. (I’ve found it’s best for travel in Europe, the US and Canada, and does the best job with trains and busses.)
I’ve done quite a bit of price comparing and found train tickets in Italy are the same price on Omio versus buying them directly from the train companies. (And it’s a lot simpler, as you don’t have translation issues, or problems with non-Italian credit cards.)
In the US, when looking for Amtrak train tickets for example, Omio is much more of a wild card. Sometimes tickets are more expensive, but sometimes they’re much cheaper.
FerryHopper lets you compare multiple ferry companies’ routes, schedules and prices all on one site – sort of like a Kayak or Skyscanner for ferries in Europe and North Africa. (And with no fees or markups.)
I discovered FerryHopper when I was visiting the Greek islands of Paros and Naxos, and I’ve loved it ever since. Other benefits (besides easy price comparison) include e-tickets, which mean you don’t have to check in at the ferry port, and an app with a live map to track your ferry.
The famous EuRail Pass can be a good way to save money on European train travel – depending on your travel plans. Essentially, the passes let you pre-pay for train tickets in Europe.
Whether it will save you money depends on where you’re going and how many trains you’ll be taking, so you’ll have to look into the different pass options and compare with the prices for individual trains tickets. (Use Omio for that part – you’ll see all the train options for a route without having to check different companies’ websites.)
Kayak is what I use most often, because I find it to be the simplest and easiest, but that’s just my personal preference.
You can try your own comparison with the flight search engines below:
My favorite thing about Skyscanner is that it has a calendar view for comparing a whole month’s worth of flight fares. (While Kayak only shows one week at a time.) And you can filter for direct flights only.
And Skyscanner seems to search small booking sites that other flight search platforms ignore, and makes it easier to book directly with airlines.
Scott’s Cheap Flights (FREE deal finder)
If you’re flexible with your travel dates (and maybe even destinations), Scott’s Cheap Flights can be a great resource. It’s a useful and free flight alert service that emails you deals from your home airport.
And if you can really make plans at the drop of a hat, their premium service is where you’ll find “error fares” and other extraordinary deals. (Eg: when an airline accidentally forgets a zero or two, and publishes a first-class ticket to the other side of the world for $100 instead of $10,000. Those tickets aren’t available for long, so you’ll want to be ready to book when the email comes.)
Even without the error fares though, the free version can be super valuable if you’re planning a trip – or hoping to find a destination you can afford to get to. And it’s FREE, so there’s no reason not to give it a try! (You can always cancel if you don’t like it.)
Day Trips & Tours
Get Your Guide is excellent for booking all kinds of private and group tours with local guides in Europe, North America, and around the world. It’s especially good for more off-the-beaten path destinations and smaller towns in Europe.
Insure My Trip is the first stop I recommend for travel insurance. They’re the largest broker in the US, so they have a wide variety of plans that you can compare side-by-side, and they’re known for having good customer service.
You can go basic with just a “travel medical” plan, or filter for plans that include “Cancel For Any Reason” coverage. This is the biggest reason I recommend Insure My Trip – most travel insurance brokers don’t make it this easy to find plans that will cover you for any reason.
(And it does mean any reason. You’re covered if you get covid, or if the covid rates increase where you’re planning to travel, or if you change your mind for any reason, like your pet gets sick.)
And Insure My Trip is a great option for travelers over 70, who World Nomads can’t insure, for example.
World Nomads is probably the most famous travel insurance company. While their variety of plans isn’t huge, they’re popular with nomads and backpackers for two reasons: Simplicity, and great long-term coverage. (They’re one of the few companies to offer yearly travel insurance plans, for example.)
All of their plans are underwritten by Nationwide for US residents. They also insure your gear (think cameras and luggage). But their plans aren’t currently available for residents of all countries, so be sure to check Travel Insurance Master if you get a “no” from World Nomads.
While it’s not as well known as World Nomads, Travel Insurance Master offers more variety, and lets you compare plans from different providers side-by-side.
Plus, if you’re not the from the US, Travel Insurance Master is more likely to give you options if World Nomads can’t.
I also like that you can choose your own deductible. After selecting a plan, you can check how much of a deductible you want, and it’ll automatically update the quote.
(And plans from one of their providers, Trawick International, are also underwritten by Nationwide, just like World Nomads, which makes it easy to compare between the two.)
- Note: If Travel Insurance Master says there are no plans available for your trip, try changing the “Plan Type” on the left-hand side from “Trip Cancellation” to “No Trip Cancellation.”
Sustainable Travel & Tour Companies
G Adventures is another great option for booking more sustainable and ethical trips. They offer small-group travel with a focus on positive local community impact. Impact is measured through their unique Ripple Score, which shows how much of the cost of your trip stays in the local community you’re visiting
Language Learning (Free!)
Learn a bit of the local language before you travel! Use this link for a free week of language lessons from Pimsleur.
It’s enough to at least pick up a few words or recognize a bit of what people are saying when you land. (The program focuses on listening and repeating, which makes it more useful than many other apps that basically just make you try to memorize written vocab.)
VPNs & Tech for Travel
Usually you don’t actually need a VPN to get online securely when you travel – or any other time (as I learned when I interviewed a cyber security expert for the linked post). Using a password manager is much more important – it makes your passwords unique and uncrackable (and you don’t have to remember them).
If you want to keep things simple and use the same company for everything, TunnelBear makes a password manager called RememBear. I haven’t used it, but it’s well rated and I think highly of the company.