The 13 Best Travel Affiliate Programs: How to Monetize a Travel Blog

All too often, the difference between those who are successful with blogs (or niche sites) and those who aren't comes down to monetization.

It's surprisingly common for two sites to have very similar traffic levels and writing quality, but vastly different incomes. Some people do little more than put up some ads and drop a few Amazon affiliate links every now and then. More successful bloggers are constantly asking themselves how they can make more money from their content and traffic.

Affiliate programs are a big part of making your site generate the income you need to keep going with it – and while Amazon Associates is a great, high-converting program, we strongly recommend looking beyond just Amazon, especially if you're a travel blogger. 🌴

Many trip-related purchases can't be done through Amazon (yet!), and other programs are often much more generous with their commission rates.

Travel affiliate program example
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Branching out from Amazon also helps to diversify your income. You never know when Amazon's going to change the rules on you and drastically reduce commissions on a key product category.

One of our sites was doing very well with their bounty program, only to lose hundreds of dollars/month when they dropped bounty payouts.

That's minor compared to some of the sites that lost thousands of dollars when they changed the commission structure a couple years ago. The more diversified your affiliate income is, the less you feel those types of changes.

In this post, we'll take a look at some of the best travel affiliate programs and how travel bloggers (or travel niche site owners who don't really consider themselves “bloggers”) can make more money from their efforts.

The Best Travel Affiliate Programs

Since some travel affiliate programs are super specific to different regions, we've divided programs up by “general” and “region-specific”. Please note that commission rates and cookie lengths are subject to change, and while this post was accurate as of late February 2020, programs can change their terms at a moment's notice.

General Travel Affiliate Programs

Hotwire

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Hotwire is one of the most popular blind bidding travel sites. Basically, you set some parameters regarding what you're looking for, then they give you options that tell you most of the important stuff without any identifying information. It allows users to get great deals without the hotels showing abnormally low public booking rates.

Commission: 2%

Cookie: 7 days

Join: Impact Radius

Expedia

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Expedia is one of those big name brands that's been around forever and converts consistently well. They allow their affiliates to promote over 260,000 bookable properties with 150 websites in 70+ countries – so they can work well for just about any travel site.

Commission: 2-6%

Cookie: 7 days

Join: CJ

Lonely Planet

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Lonely Planet should be a familiar name to anyone in the travel industry, mostly for their very popular line of travel guidebooks. You can also book trips and lodging on their website, but that side of things doesn't appear to be included in their affiliate program.

Commission: 15%

Cookie: 30 days

Join: Awin

TripAdvisor

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The TripAdvisor program is kind of interesting one, because the commission is based on clicks users make on commercial links throughout their site. You're not waiting for the person to buy something, they just need to be browsing around and clicking on the links that make TripAdvisor money – which means it converts really, really well (though each conversion is worth a lot less than in many other programs).

Commission: 50%

Cookie: 14 days

Join: CJ

Travel Payouts

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Travel Payouts is actually a small affiliate network focused entirely on travel. Some of the bigger programs on their platform include Kiwi.com, Viator, Hotels.com, AirBNB, Kayak, RailEurope, VRBO, and Booking.com.

Commission: varies

Cookie: varies

Join: Travel Payouts

Walks LLC

Walks is a company that offers interesting walking tours in a variety of European cities (and a few in the US). It's a bit like a smaller-scale Viator, except that Walks actually runs all the tours they offer on their sites, while Viator is a reseller of tours from many companies of varying quality.

Commission: 15%

Cookie: 30 days

Join: Awin

Viator

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Viator is a popular site for booking experiences during trips. Whether your readers are looking for a Costa Rican birdwatching trip or a bus trip out to Stonehenge, they can book it at Viator. It's also worth noting that they're part of TripAdvisor.

Commission: 4%

Cookie: 30 days

Join: Shareasale

Hotels.com

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Hotels.com has been my personal favorite booking site for some time now, largely because they make it really easy to accumulate free nights, and even easier to use them. Rather than sticking with a single chain and hoping they have the property you want in the location you want, you can use your free nights at virtually any hotel in the world – which is a GREAT selling point if you're writing about trip planning. 10 nights = 1 free night (value based on average value of your bookings).

Commission: 4%

Cookie: 30 days

Join: Travel Payouts

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Turnkey Vacation Rentals

Turnkey Vacation Rentals offers a wide variety of higher end properties around the US, and they offer 5% on sales and $50 for leads (presumably, leads for potential homeowners).

Commission: 5%

Cookie: 30 days

Join: Shareasale

Region-Specific Travel Affiliate Programs

Rabbie's

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Rabbie's is a company that primarily focuses on mini coach tours of the British Isles, though they do offer a handful of offerings in mainland Europe. Though I've not personally been on one of their tours, I've spoken with tons of their past customers in one of the Facebook groups we run, and they seem to get more positive comments than just about any other sizable tour company in that parts of the world.

Commission: 5%

Cookie: 30 days

Join: Awin

Bein Harim Tourism Services

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The market for package tours to Israel may not be as big as the market for  Riviera Maya getaways or Paris vacations, but if you write a lot of content related to travel in Israel, this is a great program.

Commission: 15%

Cookie: 90 days

Join: Shareasale

On Location Tours

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On Location Tours

Blog about NYC or Boston? On Location Tours runs a variety of TV and movie-themed tours of the two cities, ranging from Sex and the City to Mrs. Maisel's Marvelous Tour of NYC to more general tours that showcase a wider variety of filming locations.

Commission: 10%

Cookie: 30 days

Join: Shareasale

Brit Movie Tours

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Brit Movie Tours offers, as one might expect, tours of filming locations from British movies and TV shows. Programs like Killing Eve, Downton Abbey, Outlander, Harry Potter, Game of Thrones, Doctor Who, James Bond, and Peaky Blinders are all included in their offerings. There's even a Rom-Com Tour for those who can't get enough of Hugh Grant and Colin Firth.

Commission: 6%

Cookie: 30 days

Join: WebGains

Have We Missed Your Favorite Travel Affiliate Program?

Ultimately, the best affiliate program for your travel blog or niche site will be the one that converts for your audience. If your audience hates package tours, a package tour program won't be a great fit no matter how well it pays out. As a result, it's totally possible we've missed the program that works the absolute best for your site. So – if there's another program we should include on the list, don't hesitate to let us know in the comments.

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