The tried and true…..
Full Service Trip Planning Sites also called aggregators (compare two or more):
http://www.travelocity.com – “Travelocity is one of the most powerful one-stop travel sites on the Internet providing secure online reservation capabilities for air, car, hotel and vacation reservations, plus access to a vast database of destination and other travel information.” There is lots of advice here and I believe they are the site that is advertising the ability to book multiple flights so that all travelers (from multiple airports) arrive at the same destination near the same time (good for reunions, etc…).
Travelocity FareWatcher PlusSM is a free, personalized subscription service that tracks pricing for up to 10 city pairs of your choice. When you subscribe, you decide which itineraries and destinations to track, for how long, and whether you want to be notified of price changes via email or simply watch your travel wish list online.
http://www.expedia.com – Expedia is the premier online travel planning and flight-booking site. Purchase airline tickets, find vacation packages, and make hotel and car reservations, locate maps, destination information, travel news and more. Tip: Read the user reviews of hotels. This can be very helpful. Especially good for hotel/air packages, where the tax may be included in the price of the hotel. Includes daily top deals, including last minute specials.
http://www.orbitz.com – Orbitz gets its flight data directly form more than 400 airlines. Orbitz gives you access to what they say is the largest selection anywhere of low fares and rates on airline tickets, rental cars, hotels, vacation packages, and other travel products. Deal detector allows you to set a price for a flight. When a match is found, you’ll receive an alert.
Tip: While Expedia and Travelocity don’t get their flight data directly from the airlines, they do negotiate directly with the airlines for discount fares (which will not usually be published on Orbitz).
http://www.priceline.com – You can either choose flights, times and airlines from a list of low prices or negotiate your own price. If you choose to negotiate a price, you are obligated to purchase if your price is met. Since you cannot specify exact flight times, naming your price is best for trips longer than three days. Hotel freebies highlights hotel deals by category, such as kids stay free, free breakfast, free nights, spa credits, etc.
http://www.tripadvisor.com will compare many of these for you. (See more information under “hotels”, below.
- http://www.cheapflights.com - Allows you to search several sites, including aggregators along with airline sites.
- http://www.gotoday.com – Specializes in overseas travel. Advertising specials available for those traveling within the next couple of months.
- http://www.airgorilla.com – AirGorilla provides many options for travelers to earn points when making travel purchases or any other purchases using their travel rewards credit cards.
- http://www.economytravel.com – Economy Travel - This site claims to have the lowest international airfare on the web booked online. As one of the largest international ticket agencies, they can offer savings between 10-40% off of published fare on 24 major airlines. Great place to check fares!
- http://www.hotwire.com – Hotwire has some of the best aggregator features, including Trip Watcher which alerts you when prices drop and last minute deals.
- http://www.onetravel.com – One Travel - ”Definitive online travel site for travelers on a budget. Its focus is on delivering great bargains and advice that make their consumers the smartest travelers out there. Over 600,000 vacation packages, great deals on hotels, air tickets, car rentals and more. Great deals, check them out! “
- http://travel.yahoo.com – Shows todays picks for deals from your city.
- http://www.travel.com – compare aggregators
- http://www.itn.net/ – international travel network from American Express
- Compare any consolidator/aggregator pricing with that direct from airline, hotel or rental car sites.
- Include airlines you may not normally think of such as Jet Blue or Southwest if you are traveling out of Chicago.
- Check out the site for the airline of the country you are visiting and compare prices, e.g. Air Italia, Aloha, Air Canada, etc.
- Compare flying from different airports, such as Chicago and Milwaukee (or Moline, Rockford, Green Bay, etc.) if you’re willing to drive to save money.
- Select your seat and print your boarding passes from your airline’s site, when the option is available or appropriate. If you aren’t checking bags, then you can go directly to the gate. If you’re checking luggage, remember you can often bypass the long lines for check-in by using the e-ticket terminals available in many airports. Just swipe your credit card for identification purposes.
- You may want to consider travel insurance, but look carefully at what it covers. At a minimum, pay with your credit card so you are only liable for a limited amount. I purchased travel insurance once when it was $20 and I was unsure of the dates I wanted to travel. If you make a mistake and need to make a change, call the site immediately to see if they can help. If you are a super member at Expedia, you aren’t charged for changes.
- Many services require you to create a free account. Remember to opt out of receiving emails regarding deals if you don’t want a weekly email. Reputable sites will have their privacy and security policies readily available.
- Don’t Underestimate the Value of a Traditional Travel Agent.
- For complicated itineraries or destinations you can save lots of time with a travel agent. They often are familiar with your destination or can provide information regarding guides/tours when appropriate. This is also the best way to book Amtrak and many cruises.
- Weekly top 20 Internet travel deals: http://top20.travelzoo.com (You can also sign up to receive these via email.
- http://www.concierge.com – Air, hotel, etc. and restaurants. Helpful articles, like “what not to do in London” and “pet friendly hotels.
- http://www.concierge.com also has lots of destination information and travel ideas.
- My favorite site of all: http://www.tripadvisor.com. The hotel reviews are detailed and numerous. I have made several decisions based on them. The best part: tripadvisor will search multiple sites (e.g. Expedia, Orbitz, Travelocity) for the best hotel price.
- http://www.hotels.com – They have a price match guarantee
- http://www.HotelPlanner.com – For group hotel reservations
- http://www.fivestaralliance.com – Luxury Hotels
- http://www.vrbo.com – Vacation Rental by Owner. Why not rent a condo or house?
- You can save more if you sign up for hotel chain points programs, such as Marriott Rewards or Presidential Clubs like Fairmont’s. They will send you emails regarding special offers and you can amass points for rewards or discounts.
- http://www.opentable.com – Reservations On-Line (works very well!). Plus, accumulate points for dining certificates
- http://www.happycow.net – Vegetarian restaurants around the world
- Discounted Passes to attractions in many cities (allows you to skip the lines) – http://www.citypass.com/
- http://www.aaa.com – Create Trip Tiks on-line (for members).
Travel news & links
- http://travel.discovery.com – travel channel
- http://www.about.com/travel – tips and planners
(disclaimer – I have not investigated all of these sites)
- Worldwide free travel tools and the best links to help you plan you trip. http://www.freetravelguides.com
- http://travel.nettop20.com – The top 20 Travel Sites
- Top 100 Travel Sites showcases some of the best travel sites
- on the web. – http://www.top100travelsites.com
- The Travel Portal Features popular Travel searches, best of the Web, and a full directory of Travel sites http://www.thetravelportal.com
- TRAVIGATOR Travel Search Engine and Directory Guide – http://www.travigator.com
- http://Travel-Library.com – Personal travelogues and worldwide tourist information
- http://travelsource.com – hotels and city guides
- http://www.planetrider.com – links to many travel sites
- http://www.freeality.com/travel.htm – travel portal
Online guides (NOTE: Many guides and interactive maps are also available for download to your mobile device and your computer. Some also have associated iPhone and/or other device apps.)
- http://www.travelchannel.com – Select ‘Places and Trips’
- http://www.cityguide.com – Lots of video and photos
- http://www.pilotguides.com – includes Globetrekker TV info and guidebook info
- http://www.ricksteves.com – Info from other travelers. Podcasts regarding a host of topics.
Less Mainstream Sites
- http://www.site59.com – Last minute discounted getaways for people who don’t have time to surf the net.
- http://www.travelnow.com – Good for last minute deal info.
- http://www.vacationoutlet.com – package deals
- http://www.milebymile.com – Scenic byway guides and highways with mile by mile attraction descriptions (organized by state).
- http://www.infiltration.org – A list of places they DON’T want you to go when visiting various cities
- http://www.roadsideamerica.com – A quirky guide to off-beat tourist attractions in the US.
- http://www.comebackalive.com – Robert Young Pelton’s guide to The World’s Most Dangerous Places.
- http://www.points.com – Trade your rewards program points between different programs (airlines, etc.), add them up, buy things, etc.
Don’t forget to look at the 10-day forecast for packing!