Affiliate marketing is one of my favorite ways to make passive income as a travel blogger.
A few years ago, I took the Making Sense of Affiliate Marketing Course and it completely changed my strategy for making passive income.
It taught me so much about how to place links, how to promote certain products, and most importantly, to only promote products that you absolutely love and believe in.
But it didn’t really give much guidance for me as a travel blogger when it came to the best affiliate programs for travel bloggers.
The creator of the course is a finance blogger and while she is killing it making over $30,000 a month on affiliate income, it didn’t really make sense for me to use the same programs that she was using.
So it was a lot of trial and error instead.
I needed to figure out what websites my audience preferred using. I had to find programs were offering the best percentages of their sales.
It took me about a year to learn about the different programs that worked best for travel bloggers so I hope this quick list will help save you A TON of time.
The Absolute Best Affiliate Programs for Travel Bloggers
These are the best programs that I’ve used as well as how to use them.
Simply whacking a bunch of links into all of your blog posts will not bring you a ton of new income. You need to be strategic about what websites you are recommending, how you are recommending them, how you are marketing these blog posts, and so much more.
This is without a doubt, a blogger’s best friend when it comes to affiliate marketing.
Amazon has everything.
I usually use Amazon to recommend travel guides or books that I love and know will help my readers.
There are a few reasons why Amazon is a great affiliate program for travel bloggers.
The first is that whatever that person buys after they have clicked on your link is all part of your affiliate income.
For example, if you recommend a guide book and then they add it to their cart along with some sunscreen, a new bathing suit, and a pair of sandals, then you get a percentage of that entire sale, not just a percentage of the book you recommended.
The second reason why Amazon is a great option is that it’s easy to join their program and they don’t have any pre-requisites to joining the program. You don’t have to have a certain number of followers or page views. You simply sign up using an existing Amazon account and you can start adding links to your blog posts.
The only bad thing about Amazon is that the cookies only last for 24 hours.
Cookies are basically what allow a website to track where someone came from. It means that from the moment they click on the link on your website until they purchase something, they only have 24 hours before you no longer receive and affiliate income for that purchase.
Booking.com is without a doubt my most profitable affiliate program.
I use Booking.com because I have discovered that most American and Canadian users prefer it over Hotels.com or other hotel booking sites. People tend to have the most trust for this website.
I also love it because they offer up to 40% commission (based on the commission they receive, not on the entire purchase). That is a great percentage for an affiliate program.
The website is incredibly easy to use, you can sign up without needing a minimum number of page views, and they have basically every hotel you could possibly want to recommend around the world.
In my experience, Booking.com is usually the cheapest option as well. So you can rest easy that you are recommending not only a great hotel to your readers but also the best price for booking it.
Booking.com cookies last for 30 days. That means once someone clicks on your link, they have about a month to go back to booking.com to book that hotel or another hotel and you will receive a commission on that booking.
How I use Booking.com links
I insert booking.com links in pretty much every blog post that I write about a specific location. If I’m writing about things to do in Tulum, I will include a section about my favorite hotels in Tulum.
If I’m writing a guide to Berlin, I’ll include a section about the best hotels in Berlin that I found in my research.
This is my most successful method of earning affiliate income through Booking.com. People who are planning a trip and looking for things to do tend to want to find hotels as well, they just haven’t started searching yet.
I write specific posts about the best hotels in a location if I have spent a large amount of time in a place and believe that I can give several really fantastic recommendations.
I also write hotel review posts if I really loved a hotel or I worked with a hotel while I was visiting a city.
The most important thing that you need to do when adding an affiliate link like a hotel recommendation is to link to it at least twice using your affiliate link.
Link to it whenever you mention the actual name, and at the end of the review, be sure to add a call to action like, “click here to book a stay at this hotel.”
3. Shop Style Collective
Shop Style Collective is perfect for those that like to write packing guides or recommend their favorite shoes, bags, or face creams in their blog posts.
This is the second most successful affiliate income program that I use on my blog.
I write a lot of packing posts and find that these convert best when it comes to using this affiliate program.
People who find those blog posts are already prepared to buy new things for their upcoming trip. They are searching for “what to pack” or “what to wear” in their chosen destination so that they know what to buy or bring with them.
Shop Style Collective is the best place to start if you don’t have a big audience. You do not have to have a certain number of page views to be accepted and the interface of this affiliate program is incredibly easy to use.
They have a huge pool of websites and stores that you can choose from like Nordstrom, American Eagle, Sephora, J.Crew among literally thousands of others. They have high, low, and middle-end clothing, shoes, handbags, accessories, and even makeup.
You can not only create links, but you can also create widgets that show people images of the clothing that you are recommending.
The only problem that I have found with this website is that their payout turnaround is very slow. It can be three to four months from the time someone buys something with your link before you get the commission from it in your Paypal account.
4. Reward Style
Reward Style is basically a slightly better version of Shop Style Collective.
This is a good program to join if you have been blogging for a while and have already built up an audience on social media.
You need to apply to Reward Style in order to be accepted into their affiliate program. They will ask you how many monthly pageviews you receive, how many followers you have on your different social media platforms, and how many email subscribers you have.
The program was initially created for fashion bloggers, but as a travel blogger, you can sign up if you meet their requirements (which they don’t outrightly state exactly what they are).
I love Reward Style because the commission percentages are significantly higher than Shop Style Collective, however, they don’t have quite as many stores available as Shop Style Collective.
I have found that many of my readers trust and prefer to shop from places like Nordstrom or directly from the company website like Ray-Ban. This isn’t always possible with Reward Style, so I actually use both programs on my blog when I’m writing packing posts.
5. World Nomads
Having a travel insurance company that you love and recommend to your readers is a great option for affiliate programs for travel bloggers.
I personally prefer World Nomads affiliate program because I think they are easy to use, easy to make a claim with, and incredibly affordable. I have been using them since 2010 and haven’t found a company that I love quite as much as them.
That being said, you need to really understand your audience and what they want. You should sample a few different travel insurance companies or emergency evacuation services in order to find the one that works best for you and your audience.
You Have to Find the Affiliate Programs that Work For You
This list is by no means exhaustive, but I think it’s incredibly important to start off slow when you begin adding affiliate programs to your business.
The most important thing is that you work with companies and promote products that you love and that you know, based on your niche, that your audience will love.
If you are a family travel blogger, you will likely want to look at City Pass. If you write a lot about Disney World, you’ll want to find an affiliate program that allows you to make income from ticket sales.
If you blog about a specific place in the world like Paris or New York, you’ll want to find affiliate companies for the tour companies that operate specifically in those places. You may need to create your own agreements with tour companies if they don’t already have those systems.
If you blog about learning a language (or several languages), you’ll want to have affiliate programs with language courses like I Will Teach You a Language or Baselang.
Did you teach English in Korea or somewhere else? You most likely had to take a TEFL course. Most TEFL companies have affiliate programs that you can use to promote their course to your readers who are also interested in teaching English around the world.
Basically, what I’m trying to say, is think of the programs, courses, products, and websites that you already use. Look at the things that you’re already recommending to your readers.
Think about your niche and what products, websites, and programs would be best for the people in that niche.
Then head to Google and enter the company name and the word affiliate into the search bar and see what comes up.