What are the best travel websites? It depends.
Where are you going? Are you flying? Do you need a hotel, too? Or maybe you just need a hotel for a weekend getaway? Will you be driving when you get there? Is there flexibility in your travel dates?
Lots of questions. But don’t worry. Let’s find the best travel websites for your trip.
I’ve done the legwork to list them here. There are thousands of websites, but these are the ones that show up again and again when rated by travel professionals. You’re probably familiar with quite a few of them…but did you know that they are better at some parts of travel than others?
Best Travel Websites for…
- Orbitz: Enter your travel dates and click on “My dates are flexible.” Orbitz gives the fares for three days before and after, so you can see if there’s a better price. Each flight has details including length of connections, type of plane, and baggage fees. You can also filter by airline. Orbitz tells you about cancellation fees, too, for any type of reservation.
- CheapTickets: This site allows you to mix airlines to get the best price. Enter your information, then use filters to sort by airline, times, stops, etc. CheapTickets also saves your searches, a nice feature. Similar to CheapTickets is CheapAir. One nice feature on the CheapAir home page is the tab for choosing flexible dates, by your preferred airline.
- Hotwire: Like surprises? Looking for the best price? Hotwire is for you. It’s kind of fun, actually. Enter the city, and then narrow the search by area, amenities, star rating, and TripAdvisor reviews. Voila! You’ll get a deal, but won’t know the exact hotel until you pay. Sometimes you gotta take a chance.
- Trivago: Easy! Just enter the city and dates, and the list pops up, gathered from over 200 booking sites. Trivago prices are listed along with those of other travel sites, so you have an instant comparison. Filter by ratings, price, brand, and location, as well as about a dozen other ways: number of rooms, restaurants, kid-friendly, sports facilities, accessibility, etc.
- Your favorite brand’s website: Hilton, Marriott, IHG, etc. Not everyone will agree with me, but if you’re a loyalty member, there are benefits in booking with the hotel level that fits your budget. Over time, you get free stays, free wi-fi, and free upgrades.
- Expedia: Most of the websites above also do packages, but Expedia is a favorite. You can bundle deals several ways, right on the home page. There’s also a handy box to check if you only want a hotel for part of the time. Another thing I like is that you start with the hotel; lots of ways to filter: property class, brand, TripAdvisor ratings. Then, on to flights, with ways to choose by airline, times, number of stops. If there is a price difference from the initial package, you find out right then. Same with the car rental. Expedia has its own loyalty program, too. Every reservation earns points for future travel…along with airline and credit card points! Travelocity, which is owned by Expedia, works the same way. Both have lots of partnerships, so they can offer some pretty amazing deals.
- Last Minute Travel: Just so you know, this is a “club” with a $50 a year membership…free for the first year. LMT guarantees that you will save the price of the membership, or they will refund it. The site is easy to use. After you enter your dates, you get an itinerary and price, based on the hotel, with tabs to change airlines, room type, and rental car agency. There’s a hotel description with photos, and TripAdvisor reviews. I must admit, the prices were impressive. To be honest, I’d never heard of LMT until I researched for this post. We’ll see what happens during the next year.
Others worth mentioning:
- Kayak: Either you love Kayak or you don’t. I’m in the second category. All those windows make me jittery, and they all seem to have the same price. It does have a nifty sidebar that lets you check the free amenities you need, such as Wi-fi or airport shuttle. I’d love to hear from a Kayak fan–maybe I need a tutorial.
- Booking: A member of the Priceline group. No packages, but it does have restaurants and the ability to make Open Table reservations. It lists all types of accommodations: B&B, hostels, extended-stay, etc. It’s a little too “busy” for me, but I know people who think it’s the greatest. As I said earlier, there is a website for everyone!
Did I miss one of your favorite travel websites? Let me know and tell me why!
I still advise talking to someone after doing your research. And travel agents can still get you perks such as upgrades. Booking online is not without risks, but the best travel websites are reputable and can help you find the best deals for your trips.
The important thing? That you’re traveling! Bon voyage!
Other helpful TravelSmart Woman posts:
Note: I don’t receive any compensation from these websites. I simply tell you what I’ve found by doing research.