For those of you who love to travel, you may already know that the Internet is a great place to help you get your travel plans in order. I’m almost to the point that I don’t even think about booking a hotel or a flight without doing it on the Internet. For me, it’s much easier to go to one of the travel websites listed below and find a flight or locate a hotel in the city I’m traveling to and compare prices and amenities. It’s far more efficient than calling around and getting the information the old-fashioned way by phone or trying each hotel or airline site to find a price or schedule. Occasionally, I will have to talk to someone via phone to do things that the website might not provide but that is very rare. Some hotels and airlines offer better discounts for using their websites than you would get over the phone. Although, I’ve been told that sometimes you can negotiate for a better deal by contacting the hotel directly.
You can also get some great discounts by using the metasearch websites such as SideStep or Kayak that will cull the best deals from other travel sites. So, here’s my list of some of my favorite sites. If you have others that you prefer, let me know in the comment area. I’m always looking for the next great website to get a deal.
SideStep is a travel metasearch site that provides information on flights, hotels, rental cars, cruises, vacation packages, and other deals. I use SideStep a lot to get me started on finding the best price for flights. It searches several hundred other travel sites to provide the best deals and schedules for the traveler. It allows you the flexibility to select nearby airports and once it retrieves it results, its SmartSort feature allows you to toggle on and off things such as the number of stops, arrival and depart time, airlines, arrival and departure airports and even the layover airport. SideStep offers a very extensive Travel Guide which provides indepth information, ratings, and reviews on hotels, restaurants, shopping, and attractions in many major cities and vacation destinations around the world. I’ve yet to fully explore this aspect of SideStep since I use TripAdvisor more for this kind of information. That leads to my next handy website.
TripAdvisor is a hotel review site and travel guide that provides a wealth of information about hotels, restaurants, and other attractions in cities around the world. The best part about TripAdvisor is the reviews posted by other travelers. This is often very helpful in getting a better idea about the accommodations and service at hotels and restaurants since it comes from fellow travelers. The site also ranks the hotels in a particular city based on its popularity among other TripAdvisor users. The site also has a search engine for hotels and flights and it has links to other articles and reviews that gives the user a full range of information about their destination.
Orbitz began primarily as a site created by several major airlines to provide the best deals on air travel but they also offer prices on hotels, rental cars, rail, cruise, and other special deals. Orbitz offers additional search options that accommodate those who has flexible travel dates. By using this feature, you can zero in on the best fares for a given time period. This is very helpful in determining the best days to travel and getting the best price for a trip. Orbitz has a Traveler Update feature that provides the traveler with the latest information about traveling conditions at many of the major airports such as weather, security line wait times, highway traffic, taxi lines, etc. These updates are provided by other travelers and show the times they are submitted to help the user determine the timeliness of the information. These updates, which can also be sent to your mobile devices, is reviewed by Orbitz’s moderators to help prevent spam and inappropriate material from being posted.
SeatGuru provides detailed airplane seating information, airline amenities and other information related to airlines. I really like using Seat Guru when I want to get an idea of what type of seating arrangements an airline may have for a particular aircraft on the flight that I am booking. Seat Guru will identify the best seats and seats to avoid. I also use it to determine what seats are window, aisle, or middle seats when I don’t have access to that airline’s website or if I am booking through a travel agent at work and didn’t get a chance to specify my seat preference. It has comparison charts to show the various amenties for each type of aircraft by airline such as seat width and pitch, video type – whether overhead or personal; laptop power availability; and power type. SeatGuru is very helpful to determine that extra bit information about a flight that will make your trip more enjoyable.
Kayak is a travel metasearch site that searches over 100 sites to compare fares and prices for flights, hotels, cars and cruises. It lets you compare your results to those found on Expedia, Hotwire, Travelocity and a few other sites. Kayak’s Buzz feature let’s you see the best fares for the Top 25 destinations or by specific airport. It also offers popular trip ideas, and it lets you set fare alerts that can be e-mailed to you.
Hotels.com, while focusing primarily on providing the best prices for hotel rooms, does offer prices and information on flights, rental cars, and vacation packages. They offer flexible booking and price guarantees that help you find the best price without worry of paying change or cancellation fees.
Expedia is a travel website that was created by Microsoft but is now is part of Expedia, Inc. It is a popular travel website and offers the full range of travel information and prices. One feature I use is the flexible travel dates calendar to find the best fares that fit into my flexible schedule. Expedia has an Activities section that provides information on activities such as amusement parks, resorts, shows, etc. You can select activity by theme such as luxury, romance, family, adventure, or all-inclusive; by location; or select special deals. Expedia also offers a section that caters specifically to business travelers.
Travelocity is one of the more well-know and widely used travel websites that offers prices and information on flights, hotels, cars, rail, cruises, and various travel packages. It also offers destination guides, traveler reviews, and has a special section with travel tips and advice.
GoToBus.com is a website that focuses primarily on bus travel. It searches among the offerings provided by various bus companies to provide the user with the lowest fares and best routes available. Although I haven’t personally used it, I found out about it from someone who used it to find the Chinatown Bus for travel between DC and New York City. After visiting the website, I found that there are many alternative bus companies serving the major cities besides the well-known companies such as Greyhound. In addition to the standard bus schedules, it offers information and prices for sightseeing buses, tour buses, and vacation packages. If you prefer traveling by bus and searching for the best price, this is a great place to start.
These are some of the travel websites that I use a lot. I selected them because they locate the best deals from a broad range of airlines, hotels, cars and other attractions. Of course, there are deals to be found at the specific hotel or airline websites. I use all of the sites at one time or another to compare prices. My list is a great start at getting you to your destination at the best price with the best information. Bon Voyage!