When you want to travel, what you look for is an excellent travel offer that will not only save you money on the cost of the flight but also give you options for some of the best hotels and sights for the destination you are traveling to.
Most people love using travel sites, as these are companies that know a lot more when it comes to great deals, and they always claim to offer them the best. Well, I did some research on travel sites that have taken the place of travel agencies, and I compiled a list of some of the best that I found.
These are companies that offer you excellent vacation packages, and not just flights and hotel stays, but much, much more. A full-service travel site will provide you with the best flight bookings, best hotels to stay, rental cars, cruises, and many other fun activities for you and your family.
Should you really book for your trip online or make use of a travel agent?
According to research done by the American Society of Travel Agents , the average cost of booking for a flight with a travel agency is $36. Online agencies usually bundle up their fee in the taxes and fees in portion of the quotes they give you, which is significantly less.
Travel agents are paid commissions by the hotels and airlines that have a relationship with them, and they allow them to access upgrades and other insider deals which you may not get with an online travel company.
So, if you have the time to shop around online, you can save a considerable amount of money, but the deals and offers you can get from the travel agents might be considerably more, therefore, either is fine, depending on how much time you have, but since most people are always online, they tend to use online travel sites more often.
Key Features to look out for when using an online travel site
Look for companies that offer you a whole package when traveling, which should include flights, car rentals, and hotel reservations. Some companies actually pick hotels and flights for you so you can get to your destination with the lowest price.
Other companies will allow you to mix and match flights, car rentals, and hotels to fit into your schedule.
Booking the airfare
One of the reasons why most people search for travel sites is so they can find cheap airfare. While there are dozens of airfare specific sites, travel sites will also give you the option of adding hotel stays and other expenses into the offer they give you.
The best travel sites combine flight information from more than nine different airlines, and they let you sort out the flights by price, the number of stops, the duration and the class you wish to travel in.
This is an excellent travel site that boasts excellent connections and partnerships with airlines, hotels, and cruise lines the world over. It is a great choice for online travel reservations and allows you to mix and match your options, so you are never limited to a traditional booking package.
Whenever you book a flight with this site, the results page will show you a wide range of prices next to each airline that you have a preference to. The flights on the page will show you the best deals at the top, so you can sort through your search by departure time, airline, arrival times, and flight duration.
If you are determined to hunt for the best price, you should compare the rates for different flights with the same routes, and also look at other sites which you can find on the Travelocity website.
However, if you want to only book for a flight, then I would recommend you use Orbitz – I have talked about it below, and this is because it will display for you the results for more airlines than any other online travel site.
If you are searching for flights and hotel reservations, Travelocity will provide for you the essential details on the first search. On the next page, you have the opportunity to refine your search with many other preferences you may have.
Be very specific with this, and ensure to enter specific addresses of where you shall be traveling, your points of interest and the best places you wish to stay.
This site will also give you plenty of information that you can use to gauge the quality of a hotel. Each hotel profile has a TripAdvisor review, from previous guests who cover the ins and outs of the hotel which other travel sites may not mention.
Details such as the room’s lists, the number of beds, the smoking status, and the cancellation policy is also included. You will know in advance in case there are any fees to be paid if your plans fall through and you decide not to travel after all.
This website is also not limited to flights and hotels; you can also book rental cars, cruises, and other activities as well. The rental cars come with a Book Now, Pay Later policy, just in case you change your plans.
If you book for a cruise, you can get exclusive deals for the seniors and previous passengers, and you shall find some of these deals if you are a qualifying member of the military or a Union as well.
Travelocity is actually one of the best online travel sites that make fast reservations with only a few clicks. The package deals are useful when you are planning for a long trip or when you need multiple reservations.
If you opt for a travel package, Travelocity shall walk you through each reservation, so you do not have to book anything individually.
You can manage your itinerary on the website or through the mobile app. The app works on all mobile platforms such as the iPhone, iPad, Android, Kindle Fire, and non-touch devices such as BlackBerrys.
When you book with the app, you shall also get access to Travelocity’s top secret hotels, get extra notifications about new deals, and also get updates on flight delays, changes and severe weather conditions that may disrupt your travels.
Their prices may be higher for some budget-conscious travelers, but you are sure to find a near-limitless selection on flights, hotels, vacation packages, and rental cars. If you want the best site for your budget, you can try Expedia, which I am about to talk about next.
When you are an Expedia+ member, you qualify for many different rewards, which includes the ability to earn and use your frequent flyer mile points through the airline you use. You can also use your credit card reward points along with your Expedia rewards.
It gives you the option of redeeming reward points for traveling or donating them to the St. Jude Children’s Hospital to help children with cancer.
The site lets you book for flights, hotels, cars, vacation packages, cruises and other activities you may wish to get up to when on holiday. Their search feature from the homepage also prompts you for the most critical information first.
You can then filter the results for the best flights, hotels, and rental cars based on your preferences. Filters include the departure times, arrival time, amenities, car type, or rental service. If you are looking for an entire vacation package, I recommend you also have a look at Travelocity, which makes booking packages much easier than other sites.
Expedia’s search format features additional details about flights that you can use to expand and learn more about layover times, transfers, etc. When you provide information upfront, it will allow you to plan for your trip with confidence.
If you discover that there is a problem with your travel plans within 24 hours of booking, you can easily cancel most flights booked through Expedia. Unfortunately, free cancellation only applies if you do it within a short period. If you make any changes, after 24 hours are over, you might be subjected to fees or only receive the flight credit instead of a full refund.
Many of the cancellations and change policies through Expedia are subject to the airline, or hotel-specific policies, so your ability to cancel or change anything will depend on the booking you have made.
One of Expedia’s standout features is the “My Scratchpad.” This is a tool that keeps track and saves your notes on travel searches. It is a great tool to use if you fly to the same destination frequently or if you are just waiting for the right time to book a dream vacation.
The feature can watch prices rise and drop on the same routes over time, and buy when the price is low. When you access the My Scratchpad tool, you shall see the prices for the top results in your frequent searches, and it’s very easy to repeat a search if you want to recheck the rates for different dates.
This shall definitely save you time as it gives you a price to compare the new search results.
Expedia’s mobile app, which is free works on both Apple and Android platforms. When you download the app, you shall be able to book for hotels and flights, catch great deals, and view your itinerary. This is exclusive to mobile users only.
Expedia will also provide you with price fares and reservations to many exotic destinations around the world. Deals from the mobile app and website help customers save money on all types of bookings, while the search and online booking process from the website is easy.
Orbitz website works directly with airlines, to help you quickly find the type of flights you want. It has many filters so you can be able to narrow down your search to just several stops, arrival times, departure and flight class.
The Flexible Date search looks for tickets within three days before or after your preferred date. This may give you a much better rate for your flight. Each flight listing gives you a full itinerary with the transfer locations, the length of layover, the time of flight, and the terminal you shall be using.
Orbitz is exceptionally upfront about everything, which is rare in this industry. Many websites are known for obscuring essential details.
Planning for an overdue vacation does take a lot of time and planning than just packing sunscreen and a towel. Online sites give you many ways of finding the best times, methods of travel, and destinations for a fair price.
Orbitz specializes in combination packages, so, it’s never a problem if you want to book for a flight, a hotel, or a rental car individually.
When you purchase for reservations in bulk, it will cost you less than booking for each component individually. The more package deals you purchase with Orbitz, the more rewards you shall earn from each travel.
This makes Orbitz one of the best online booking sites around, and their frequent flyers are great for families that need to book for at least four or more tickets in one trip.
Hotel searches usually display results based on the distance from the city center. This is by default. However, you can adjust these results on Orbitz based on the lowest price, star rating, and reviewer score. These are just a few of the benefits of this site.
If you are planning on staying at a hotel and rent a car at your destination, then you can purchase a package deal that shall cost you less than if you had booked for each one individually. The packages come in different combinations based on your needs.
You can also book any combination of flights, hotels, and car rentals quickly and easily. If you are a frequent flyer, select your most preferred airline, and enter your frequent flier number so you can earn more miles through Orbitz.
If you are considering a package deal for your vacation, Travelocity offers the best package deals. You can also book cruises with Orbitz as well, and just like any other travel website, booking the right cruise only takes you a few tweaks on your initial search. Cruise searches are based on destinations, with the most popular ones at the top of the list.
They list cruise destinations from all over the world and not just the popular Caribbean cruises. You can choose the cruise as you prefer, and your departure date for up to two years in advance. Orbitz can book for you cruises that can last from two to 12 nights. There is a list of all ports of entry.
If you have a cabin preference, you can also choose this from the interior, balcony, ocean view, and a whole suite of rooms at the listed prices.
The Orbitz activities section helps you reserve tickets for events which you can enjoy once you reach your destination and unpack your bags. This feature comes in handy when avoiding long ticket lines for best destinations and popular activities.
Of course, the activities shall vary from location to location, but most destinations have similar activities. They will offer you a shuttle or car service to and from the airport, and you can search your destination with the dates that you shall be there, to find out what will be going on in the area.
Currently, the most popular activities are tickets to Disney World, the Grand Canyon, and Cirque Du Soleil.
Orbitz also lists deals to popular destinations such as Florida, California, Las Vegas, Mexico and the Caribbean on their front page. These deals are often for last-minute trips to popular destinations for vacations.
You can find a last-minute package for up to half off, but the deals are usually limited to participating hotels only.
There are two main features on the website to make a traveling search easy for you; Predictive searching and calendar-style date selection. Predictive searches usually save time by completing for you the name of your destination when you start typing it, while the calendar-style selection chooses dates so you can see what day of the week you shall be making your reservations.
Ticket prices often change based on the day of the week, and hence, if you do not have a date preference, you can always use the flexible date feature.
When searching for reservations, Orbitz allows you to compare prices with other travel websites. Once you have made your selection, Orbitz will guide you through the booking process one step at a time. If you only book for a flight, for example, Orbitz shall offer you a chance to book for a hotel and a rental car with your flight reservations.
They will then send you email confirmations as soon as you book for your seat, hotel room or your rental car. In the email notification, you shall find all of the necessary details about your reservation, just in case you need to confirm anything.
In addition, Orbitz shall also allow you to view and manage all of your itineraries in the My Trips portal. Here, you can change flight seats, update alerts, or cancel your trip altogether. Unfortunately, for cancellations or itinerary changes, the site charges a service fee with possible additional charges.
You can cancel your trip at any time, but you shall not receive a complete refund. If you cancel before the departure date, you can only apply the amount of the ticket for future domestic travels.
Orbitz has an app that can be found on Android, iOS, and other platforms to make your work much easier. It is also very easy to use.
The company also offers a loyalty rewards program they call Orbucks. This is straightforward and easy to use the system. Each dollar you spend equates to one Orbuck, and you can redeem them instantly. You can save up to 5% off of all hotels, and 1% off all flights, plus an additional 1% off of all package deals.
You also get the opportunity to earn extra Orbucks when you refer or book for family and friends.
Online travel sites are excellent at mediating between you and airlines, rental car dealerships, and hotels, so you can get the best price. Kayak website is minimalistic and simple. With only one search bar, and booking tab at the top of the page. Rates to popular destinations are usually displayed below.
Kayak enables you to search for the same booking on other discount travel sites and compare prices as a great way to cover more ground by searching multiple sites at the same time.
When you search for airfares, the comparative pricing appears as a new window, even if you are using your mobile device. This can be a great tool when you intend to use it, but extremely annoying surprise when you do not want to compare prices.
After the initial search, the site has basic filters that can help you sort out your results. If you are new to using the website, it may appear as though you cannot refine your search for a hotel or other location but, if you expand the sidebar menu, you shall see more options, such as star ratings, flexible dates, and available amenities.
While it’s easy for you to catch a flight or reserve a hotel room for almost anywhere, you cannot book for any cruises on kayak. It also misses the mark on Multi-reservation packages. These are not available, which means that you can only book for flights and hotels together.
Most other discount sites offer multiple combinations for vacation packages, which typically lets you book flights, a hotel, and rent a car all in one booking, or some other similar combined reservation package.
Kayak’s most outstanding feature is their mobile app, which is available on both Apple and Android devices. You can book flights, rent cars, and book for hotels. You can also compare prices, set alerts for the right prices, and check for your flight status through the app.
The booking feature on the app is very easy to use and works very quickly. It includes an extra feature such as a customized packing list, a currency converter, and an airline directory.
Outside the app, you shall find similar helpful tools on the kayak website. The Explore tool shows you the rate averages for all the popular destinations around the world, at any time of the year, plus you can also set up email alerts to notify you when the best prices for your trip are available.
Some common features are missing on this site, such as the ability to book for a cruise, but you can still catch some very low rates on flights, hotels and rental cars from all over the world. If you are interested in booking for a cruise, you would have to use one of the other travel sites I have discussed.
This wasn’t always a website, but, they have been helping people book for hotels, flights, rental cars and make other reservations since 1986. CheapTickets offers good value for hotels and flights, and it also provides you with all of the information you need with an easy-to-use interface.
This site has a tab that is dedicated to event tickets, which includes concerts and plays. They also offer deep discount rates that include last-minute deals if you want to book for a quick getaway.
For flights, you can sort your search by departure time, prices, and shortest flight, which is a great option if you have small children. When you book your tickets, you can then access a seat map to select your seat for each flight.
In addition, you can be able to narrow your search by selecting a preferred airline and a price range.
CheapTickets shows the results of hotels based on the maps and the town sections. If you do not know the exact address, you can select it based on one of their many search methods.
This site provides you with some extra perks just for signing up. When you become a member, you shall get a 20% discount off of all prices for qualifying hotels when you book a flight. To sweeten the deal further, CheapTickets also sends you promo codes and other notifications for promotions, fare sales, and new site features.
These are all great if you are a regular traveler and just looking for that perfect opportunity to getaway.
However, they do not allow refunds on all reservations. Since they act as a mediator between you and the airlines, you shall find that some tickets are refundable while others are not. When you book a ticket, look at the Review Fare Rules, and also the Terms and Conditions for more on this.
If you are traveling a long distance, most especially international travels, I would recommend that you consider travel insurance. CheapTickets offers coverage through Allianz Global Assistance. Coverage protects you in case of a medical emergency while on your trip.
If you are renting a car through CheapTickets, you may want to look into their rental car protection. This is temporary insurance that is effected as soon as you get behind the wheel of your rental. In case of an accident or theft, the car is covered up to $35,000. You also get 24-hour assistance. The terms and conditions for this may, however, vary from state to state. Check the fine print for more specific details when booking for your travel.
There is a feedback pop-up at the bottom of the home page on the CheapTickets website, which helps maintain the website the best way possible. On this window, you can add in your suggestions, criticisms, praise, and report problems that you may have encountered. Each comment comes with a black box so you can talk to them in your own words.
Their FAQs section is an excellent way to get quick answers when you do not want or have the time to hold for customer service. The section covers a wide variety of topics such as hotels, flights, travel insurance, vacation packages, payment methods, and all of your CheapTickets queries.
Finally, this is both an online and an offline company which has been around for over 30 years. Their experience is reflected in their impressive amount of booking options, and the search tools they offer. Not only can you book for a flight, rent a car and book for cruises, but, you can also secure tickets for big games or concerts whether you are on vacation or simply just staying at home.
Nothing feels as great as having a good vacation planned that incorporates everything you need such as an affordable flight, a great hotel, a car service, and perfect activities to do when you are at your destination.
This is what a good travel site should be able to offer you. You shouldn’t travel to a different country and have to look for hotels to stay, people to ferry you from one place to another, and even worse, looking for what to do.
The travel sites I have reviewed above are some of the best, and they offer you value for your money. In addition, with their constant promotions and offers from hotels, you get to stay in the best places in any location, while paying the least amount of money.
I would highly recommend that you try one of these sites for stress-free travel experience and the opportunity to enjoy every minute of your travels.