Guide to earning commissions from your travel blog

Travel Affiliate Programs 101

September 29, 2023
So you have a passion for travel and have started sharing it with others. You already have a blog or large social media following, and now you're ready for the next step — making money from it. Perhaps you want to make it your full-time job. Or maybe you just want to make extra on the side with your travel advice. Either way, you'll probably want to make use of affiliate marketing — and this guide will show you step-by-step how to do that.
Guide to earning commissions from your travel blog

Travel Affiliate Programs 101

By Daniel Cole | Published September 23, 2023
So you have a passion for travel and have started sharing it with others. You already have a blog or large social media following, and now you're ready for the next step — making money from it. Perhaps you want to make it your full-time job. Or maybe you just want to make extra on the side with your travel advice. Either way, you'll probably want to make use of affiliate marketing — and this guide will show you step-by-step how to do that.

What's a travel affiliate program?

An affiliate program is one where you use special links (or a code) to share with your audience and receive a commission for every sale that you generate (tracked via cookies or your code).

Travel affiliate programs are those that do that for travel-related services — hotels, flights, tours, car rentals, etc.

Read more about what affiliate marketing is, in general, in our Crash Course in Affiliate Marketing.

Benefits of joining a travel affiliate program

The online travel market is worth $475 million and will continue to grow. Almost everyone uses online travel services — when was the last time you booked a flight any other way than online? If the content you create has anything to do with travel, you'd benefit from joining a travel affiliate program and earning commissions when people book things through your link or using your code.

Content is king

First, you'll need to make sure your blog or social media accounts are ready for affiliate marketing. If you don't have content and an audience, there's not much use in signing up for an affiliate program — without traffic or an audience, you won't earn anything.

Don't stop reading if you're at this point, you can still learn all about travel affiliate programs — and you'll be ready to get started in no time, as you won't need a huge amount of content or a large audience before you can start earning.

Alternatives for monetization

Affiliate marketing is not the only way to monetize your blog (or vlog or Instagram account).

If you have a standalone blog, then display advertising is an option. This means using Google AdSense or something similar to have ads (that may not be directly related to your content) shown on your site. With this type of advertising, you need a lot of traffic to earn a significant amount, so this isn't a great option if you're just starting or growing your blog.

Another popular option is selling digital content like guides, courses, and e-books. This is possible when you don't have a large audience, but a loyal niche audience. It's also a popular thing in some other segments, like those that create IT tutorials. Many travel bloggers have done this, too, though, with guides to things like travel hacking (and you'll find countless e-books on how to be a travel blogger). Of course, you again need a relatively large audience to earn a significant amount by selling digital content.

Guest posting used to be very popular, though it has fallen out of favor recently. Again, you'll need a rather large audience for anyone to offer payment to post on your blog (or on your social media).

Unlike most of the alternatives, affiliate marketing is a great way to start earning money even before you have a large audience (or lots of traffic).

    Selecting the Right Travel Affiliate Programs

    After you have your content down and have an audience, you're ready to start finding which companies to work with. There are numerous lists of travel affiliate programs out there. But you'll want to dig a little deeper before making a choice.

    Of course, you're going to want to join multiple affiliate programs for different services (e.g., hotel bookings, flights, car rentals, physical goods, etc.).

    Spoiler alert! We recommend our affiliate program for car rental.

      Researching and identifying reputable affiliate programs

      Most of the lists you'll find were compiled by people who have never worked with any of the programs. Try to dig a little deeper and find other bloggers or influencers who have written about their experiences with different programs. Look for answers to questions like these:

      • Do they pay out commissions in a timely manner?
      • Do they track sales properly?
      • How is it working with the account managers?
      • Do they provide tips or otherwise help you generate more sales?
      • How easy is it to use their reporting tools?

      Analyzing commission structures and payment methods

      Both the amount of commissions and the structure of them vary by program.

      The structure of commissions obviously depends on what specifically you are promoting. For example, the commission on our car rental product comprises two different services — car rental and our Full Coverage. Commissions on physical products (of which, there are many that are related to travel, like suitcases) are usually just a flat percentage. For other things, there may be a higher percentage for certain add-ons or additional products (like travel protection).
        Specifically, our commission structure is as follows:

        • 70% of our car rental profit
        • 30% of our Full Coverage revenue
        Many affiliate programs that offer booking of travel services, like for hotels, pay commissions from their profit and not based on the total price.

        Our Full Coverage is an example of an additional product you can earn commission on. It is additional coverage for rental cars that our customers can purchase online when booking.

        How you'll get paid is also something to consider (and how often). Will they transfer money to your bank or PayPal account? Of course, how often you get paid and what the minimum payout is are also important to know in advance.

        Finally, you also need to be on the lookout for how long the cookies that your affiliate program uses last.

        Aside: Cookies are how affiliate programs keep track of your sales. When a reader of yours clicks on your affiliate links (which includes your affiliate ID), a cookie is stored on their device. This way, if they leave and return later to complete their booking or purchase, you still get credit for the sale.
        So how long that cookie lasts is important — we have one of the longest lifetimes in the travel industry at 365 days.

        Some programs ('s hotel affiliate program being a notable example) don't use cookies at all — and this means if the customer leaves the page and comes back later directly, then you won't get credit for the sale.

        Evaluating affiliate program terms and conditions

        Don't forget to read the terms and conditions of a program you're interested in signing up for. There you'll see the kind of content that they allow, what they don't allow, and other important information.
          Registering and getting started with travel affiliate programs
          Now that you've decided which programs to register for, it's time to sign up. The process is slightly different for different programs. For ours, you simply fill out the registration form and you'll quickly receive a welcome email with all the information you need to get started.

          All you'll need is to enter your name, email address, and the URL for your website (or wherever you'll be promoting

            After registering

            After registering, you'll receive an email with your affiliate ID and links. At this point, you can go ahead and start adding this to your existing content.

            Important! Make sure all of your links include your Affiliate ID — otherwise your sales won't be credited to you, and we want you to get all the commissions you've earned!

            Keep in mind: Be judicious where you add your affiliate links. They work best when they are relevant, and if you add them everywhere, they will look more like spam and perform poorly.

            For more information on how to use the dashboard and get started, watch the following video where our Affiliate Marketing Manager Sergey Kulpin explains it all:
            You can also use deep links with some affiliate programs (like ours!). Deep links are links to a specific page of a website. When you sign up for our affiliate program, you get access to a landing page generator — this way you can link directly to a page about a certain location that your content is about.

              Other ways to promote the services

              We've mentioned your affiliate links, but there are other ways to promote travel services than just putting your affiliate links in the text of your content.

              Banners: You can put banner ads next to your content. These, of course, look like advertisements like those that come from Google AdSense and often don't perform as well as links in the content.

              Widgets: Many travel affiliate programs (including ours) offer booking widgets that you can add to your blog. Widgets are the search box and often look like they would on the partner's website. When you put one on your blog, your readers can search for a rental car, hotel, or flight from your blog. They'll then be redirected to the site of the partner to select the car, hotel, or flight and complete the booking — you don't have to worry about any of the technical parts of things.

              Here's what it looks like by default:
                Sometimes you can customize the widget to match the theme of your website. We have an extensive booking widget generator that you'll have access to after signing up. With it you can edit almost all aspects of the widget.

                Creating high-quality travel content

                Now that you know all about how to promote the affiliate partner's goods or services, you'll want to move on to adding high-quality content to your site (of course, you should already have your niche figured out beforehand).

                An important thing to keep in mind is that advertising travel goods and services works best when you have a loyal audience that trusts you. So instead of creating random content just to insert your affiliate links into it, you should concentrate on creating content that is useful to your audience and finding the best places in that content to add your links.

                Some of the best travel content comes from personal experiences. You'll first want to write about the places you have actually visited and give tips and suggestions based on your experience there.

                Along with this, it helps when you recommend services that you have actually used. Your readers are more likely to trust what you are linking to if it comes along with a story about how you've used the service before.

                  What now?

                  Now that you've learned the basics about travel affiliate programs, you're ready to start becoming an expert. This includes:

                  • How to get more readers to click on your affiliate links
                  • Learning how to increase your conversion rates (how many readers book after clicking your affiliate links)
                  • SEO basics — how to get your blog posts to rank higher in Google to get more traffic
                  After you've registered with our affiliate program, our affiliate marketing manager will be more than happy to help you with all of these.

                  Daniel Cole

                  Content Strategist at
                  A world traveler, Daniel has been creating content for since 2019. Before that, he had traveled through some 50 countries, highlights of which include traveling by rental car across the United States, experiencing the danger of the sun in Brazil, and freezing in Lapland in the middle of winter.

                  With degrees in Economics and Finance, he has a passion for all things data but particularly telling stories with data visualizations.