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How and Why I use Travel Affiliate Programs to Make Money

… This post contains some affiliate links. Which is kinda the whole point of the story …

It’s been years since I first shared this story and it’s fair to say a few things have changed since then.

My affiliate journey began when I did the Making Sense of Affiliate Marketing course created by the affiliate wizard Michelle Schroeder-Gardner and was all excited about how I could make travel affiliate programs work for my blog.

For those who don’t already know, Michelle has made over a million dollars a year blogging (yup!) and affiliates make up a big chunk of that amount. She shares some of her tips in this free 36 page e-book on affiliate marketing if you’d like to find out more about her incredible story.

I like to be open and honest with my readers so while I was planning to introduce more affiliates to my blog I wanted to let everyone know what was happening and why. And so I wrote the post we’ll be getting to in a moment.

But a few things have changed over the past year or so, including the way I’ve been working with the travel tech company Stay22. At first I was only adding their links to some of my stories, and then they introduced a script that made it so easy to get lots of affiliates bookings with companies including for Booking.com, Expedia, VRBO and more. And this is what has happened with my affiliate bookings:

One of my favourite things about Stay22 is that REAL PEOPLE get back to my emails and quickly too. I’ve asked so many questions and they’ve always been so helpful and patient, and also let me keep one of my affiliates out of their system as I already had a relationship with them. So they’re nice and accommodating too.

Now they’ve introduced a referral program which means if you use my link you’ll get a US$100 bonus after 100 confirmed bookings, and I’ll get a lovely bonus too. 

So if you haven’t already signed up with them, just click this link for that rather lovely bonus.

Inspired by this change, I’ve decided it’s also time to update this post. To add some of the new affiliates I now work with and remove some of the dead wood that I let go. Ready to peek behind the travel affiliate program curtain? Follow me.

Why travel affiliate programs?

When I first started my blog I didn’t have a plan. I just wanted a fun outlet to write about random things that I found interesting.

My early posts included pieces about why only female mosquitoes bite and my take on pedestrian crossing etiquette, but then I realised I wanted to concentrate on travel, and that I wanted to give my blog a chance to actually become something.

So one year I took all of my tax return money and invested it in myself.

I turned to a professional website designer and a few weeks after her job officially ended I realised I could either spend hours on YouTube tutorials, worrying that I was about to break my website every time WordPress emailed me about something, or I could pay her a monthly fee to keep the behind the scenes running smoothly while I did all the other work.

How I use travel affiliates programs to make money on my travel blog

It was a good decision, but of course it meant that there was money going out of my travel blog every month and for a long while there was absolutely no money coming in.

Over time my blog has found lots of lovely new readers (thank you!) and that makes me very happy. But it also means there are times when I receive ‘visitor overage charge’ invoices from my website host.

Read: Gift ideas for travel lovers for every budget

You see, as well as paying an annual fee for hosting if I get more readers in a month than I have in my plan, I pay extra.

Of course it’s a bill that I’m very happy to pay because it means the blog is doing well, but the reality is that as well as investing my time, I invest actual money into my blog every month.

Do I really expect to be paid AND travel?!

It’s taken me a while to figure this out, but yes.

For so long I was so grateful for the travel opportunities alone that I didn’t care that there was more money going out of my blog than coming in.

As my credit card debt will show, this was not exactly the best plan.

If you’ll allow me a little woo-woo moment, I’ve had to work on releasing my energy blocks around money, loving books like Money, A Love Story by Kate Northrup, and doing courses to help me get over my whole ‘but I’m so lucky in life already, it’s greedy to want money too’ mind set.

And the great thing is if I put in the work my blog can make money and help readers at the same time.

If I use my travel affiliate programs right I'll be able to make money more easily on the road

How travel affiliate programs work

Travel affiliate programs work the way all sorts of other affiliate programs work, and that’s by placing special links on websites or sharing them through social media so a business can tell how someone found them and pay a little something for the referral.

So if you read my blog post on great gifts for travel lovers on Etsy, you’d see there are links to the products, and if you were to buy them, or anything else on Etsy after you clicked on my link for a period of time, I’d get a small percentage.

For those of you thinking, ‘hang on, Etsy isn’t a travel site!’ that’s true, but they have great travel related goodies up their sleeve.

Once you join affiliate marketing programs there are hundreds of businesses to choose from and while I do have some that aren’t purely travel, they are still things I believe in and use myself.

I don’t want to pimp my blog out with loads of random links to things, so am rather picky and often say a polite no thank you after being invited to join travel affiliate programs that aren’t right for me or my readers.

Some of the companies I do have affiliate relationships with include…


Get Your Guide



TunnelBear VPN


Sometimes sites have cookie periods, so if you click on a link, go away to think about it for a few days and then go back and buy the blogger still gets something.

Others, like Booking.com don’t use cookies so we only get something if people book when they click through from our site. Obviously I’d love it if there was a week or more’s grace there, but I still use Booking.com because I know so many people like using them and trust them.

Other ways my travel blog makes money

As you can see on my site, I don’t have banner ads or flashing boxes trying to get your attention for someone’s sale.

Instead I work with companies in other ways, and along with affiliate programs I sometimes do sponsored posts.

Read: Travel packing essentials

As the name suggests, this is where a company sponsors a story, and it gives me a chance to share a travel tip or some information that you can use on your travels, while being able to keep the blogging lights on.

Working with travel affiliate programs means I can make a living while travelling and blogging along the way

Regardless of whether a post is sponsored, or if I’m hosted somewhere, I write honestly and don’t let it affect the story.

I also say thanks but no thanks to all sorts of businesses that I don’t believe in or agree with. Online casinos need not apply. Seriously guys, stop emailing.

But I love it when I get to work with companies that are a great fit, and when I can share new things with you guys to hopefully make your travels even better.

So now you know how you’ve been helping lots of bloggers out when you’ve read our stories, clicked on affiliate links and bought something. And on behalf of all those bloggers out there, working away to make their dreams come true I thank you.

And if you’re a blogger who wants to embrace travel affiliate programs and make them work for you, I really do highly recommend Michelle’s Making Sense of Affiliate Marketing course.

And yes, I loved it so much, I became an affiliate. I have a feeling you will too.

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