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|Best Travel Deals|
|Best Hotel Deals|
|Best Flight Deals|
Thanks to booking aggregators you can find a travel deal in a matter of seconds. Punch in your approximate dates and desired destination and let the websites spit out results that help you find the best fit for your needs, destination and preferences.
What Are The Best Travel Websites?
There are a number of places to plan and book your trip, so we’ve reviewed the best travel sites on the web to help you find the right one for your next trip.
We evaluate each site based on our research and personal experiences and give you a detailed summary of our findings along with the pros and cons of each. And most the companies we reviewed also have smartphone apps so you can book on the go. Read on to learn the best ways to book the adventures that await you.
Expedia is our overall winner for best travel deals because, in addition to great everyday low prices, they are an excellent resource for finding last-minute bargains at an even deeper discount, including cruises and bundles that include flights plus hotels and car rental.
Their site is easy to use and offers the most comprehensive way to search for any trip you are planning. Create an account and once logged in, you can save your search history to your “Scratch Pad” and get alerts for pricing updates on your desired itinerary. Then review your booked itineraries at any time which is extremely helpful no matter how often you travel.
Another unique feature is their Expedia+ rewards program (it’s free) that gives you incentives, special offers and rewards the more you book through Expedia.
Kayak is our pick for best travel website specifically for hotels. Give them your dates and number of guests and it uses algorithms to find the best deal based on highest rated hotel, then book directly from the hotel chain or other deal sites (like Expedia).
They allow you to sort by type (trendy, luxury, boutique, budget, family friendly, etc.) or by whatever criteria is important to you (price, location). One great feature is the ability to display results on a map, complete with a color overlay that shows where popular bars, attractions and restaurants are around (and public transportation if applicable in the city you’re traveling to).
If you want to book more than just a hotel, Kayak provides all-inclusive travel deals including flights, cars packages and more. You can also sign up for travel alerts for notifications when your trip has a deal and see a chart of the price history for any route.
Creating an account allows you to share your trips with friends, get flight status alerts via email or SMS too.
Hipmunk is our top pick for best deals on flights. What makes Hipmunk better than expedia is their visual “timeline” of results (including rail options if applicable) so you can easily see and compare the various options by trip length, time of day and airline.
You can create a free account to remember your search history and create alerts for whenever there is a change in a price for a particular route. Another benefit is searching for plus or minus 1-3 days on either your arrival or departure date and sort results based on the “agony” or duration (including layovers) and the number of stops.
The website also allows you to pick a flight one leg at a time, and book via the airline directly or another travel deal site like Priceline. They started with flights only but expanded to hotels and cars too (but do not try to up-sell you). If you’re looking for a clean, straightforward way to search and compare flight options, Hipmunk is the way to go.
Other Travel Websites Reviews
Although those are our top choices there are a handful of other popular booking engines out there we also reviewed.
Note that some travel sites (like Priceline and Hotwire) use an opaque sales model for hotel booking – meaning that customers do not know where they are staying until they have paid for it. This arrangement is requested by the hotels to protect the integrity of their brand but gives them the option to get rid of unused inventory and pass along savings to customers.
For all companies reviewed, we wanted to point out that Southwest Airlines is not included in results as they do not list their fares on third-party company websites.
Jump to the website you wish to learn more about by clicking on the name below or read on to view them all.
As the name suggests, Hotels.com is the place to go if all you want is to book a hotel in your destination city. A great feature of Hotels.com is their “Welcome Rewards” program that gives you a free night stay for every 10 nights you book.
The site is user-friendly and allows you to choose a city, then narrow your search by specific neighborhood or suburb, landmark, type of hotel (Bed and Breakfast, Resort, etc.), amenities, accessibility features and purpose of trip (business or leisure).
Hotels.com has a price match guarantee, which allows you a lower price or to cancel without penalty if you find the same hotel room cheaper somewhere else.
HotelTonight, launched in 2010, is an app for iPhone, Android and Windows devices that provides a curated list of discounted hotels for that day (or up to a few months from the date of search).
Once you download the app to your phone, HotelTonight can geo-locate your area, or you can type in the city you are looking for a room in, and it will pull up a list of available hotels along with your discounted price (vs. the regular price), photos, rating and amenities.
After you book your room, you will be connected with a Hotel Tonight travel concierge who can help request any special needs and answer your questions.
Hotwire allows travelers to bid on hotel accommodations by choosing a general area in the destination city, star-rating and price. The website then brings up results with necessary information and exact prices.
This site uses an opaque sales model (see above), so customers do not know exactly what hotel they are booking until their credit card is charged. Hotwire claims to have only brand-name partners, so its clients can expect a general standard of quality and service for all products purchased, regardless of the name brand. Customers can also shop for car rentals, flights or cruises.
Hot Wire also offers deals on activities and attractions. Hotwire is the same if not better than Priceline, if you’re up for a gamble to save a few bucks.
Orbitz is one of the leading online travel companies and also one of the oldest. Founded in 1999 by six major airlines, Orbitz works very similarly to Expedia and their site is almost identical (because they are part of the same parent company).
Travelers can look up pricing and book flights, hotels, cars, activities, cruises and more. You might find many of the same search results here as you will on other sites and some third-party sites like Kayak and Hipmunk will show you Orbitz pricing in their results and take you to Orbitz to book.
We feel you are better off starting your search elsewhere and then booking through Orbitz when it’s time to purchase. You can also join their Orbitz reward program to earn points on your booking and instantly redeem.
Priceline allows customers to save money by bidding on hotel rooms in a general area in their destination city. But, similar to Hotwire, the hotel name is kept anonymous until booking. After agreeing to the price and paying, the hotel name is revealed, and the traveler is committed to the deal – no changes or cancellations can be made.
They also have “Express Deals” where the price is shown (but the hotel is not) or you can view hotel names and book that way but might not get as good of a deal. The company claims to have an average price that is 40% lower than its competitors, and they have a Priceline Guarantee where they’ll refund your money and double the difference if you find a better price within 24 hours of booking.
In addition, they have cars, flights and packages too (but no bidding option).
Travelocity is one of the largest online travel sites and has a long business history. Like Orbitz it’s an Expedia company as well so has a similar look to Orbitz and Expedia (along with the same great deals).
They give travelers search options that allow you to select only transportation, activities, hotels, cruises or a package combination. Travelers can also choose a destination and find out what is on sale at that time in their desired location that adds an element of spontaneity to the travel planning process.
Travelocity’s Price Guarantee will match any price offered by another company.
TravelZoo is unique from other travel booking sites in that they promote and share travel deals from across the web versus searching for a particular destination and date (not limited to just travel but also experiences, food and discounts on services).
Their “Top 20” showcases a weekly list of the best travel, entertainment and local deals from more than 1,000 companies across the world. They even use your location to show you deals unique to the closest airport to you.
You can also use their “Super Search” engine to compare ticket prices of all the top travel companies listed above (each site you select opens the results in a new browser window) to quickly compare without having to type in the dates and destination multiple times on the various sites.
While Travel Zoo has many great travel ideas on how to score a great price on a vacation, they are more limited in searching and booking than other sites.
Trivago compares hotel prices from more than 250 booking engines for over 1 million hotels around the world. Enter the destination and desired travel dates, and you’ll be served up a number of options in seconds.
You can also specify your search and filter results by price, distance (e.g. from the beach), star category, facilities and more. When you find a hotel you like, click on the “view deal” button, and you will be forwarded to a booking site where you can book your room.
TripIt Booking App
Once you have booked your trip, we recommend using TripIt (download iOS App) to manage and organize all your itineraries.
Create a free account and they automatically put all your travel bookings from your email and into one easy to read itinerary – complete with confirmation numbers, phone numbers and seat details.
You can share your saved itinerary with travel mates as well as family and friends and use their app to check arrival gate information on the go.
The pro version provides you with gate change information and estimated flight arrival updates (often faster than the actual airlines does).
Useful Tips For Booking Travel Online (Video)
Jay and Stewart, the “interns” at Expedia, have some useful tips on booking travel online. For instance, did you know it’s cheapest to book on Sundays, and it’s more cost-effective to fly into smaller airports 50% of the time?
Watch this video or check out their channel to learn more. Have a burning travel question? Tweet them with the hashtag #ExpediaInterns and maybe they’ll have an answer if it’s not already answered on their Expedia Intern website.
Travel Sites: A Matter Of Preference
When it comes to booking travel online, every person has different preferences. For some, airline or brand name makes a big difference for loyalty programs and price isn’t a big consideration, but for others, it doesn’t matter what airline or chain as long as it’s the most affordable price or best schedule. You might be looking for a one-stop shop package, or maybe you’re someone who prefers to shop a la carte.
After deciding what is most important to you, shop around at two or three different travel sites based on the summaries listed above and compare as prices tend to fluctuate over time.
Looking For More Inspiration?
If you’re more adventurous (or have a bigger group), staying in a rental property might be a better fit for you (we’ve reviewed the top companies in our best vacation rental websites article).
Need a little travel inspiration? Check out our best adventure vacations review for some ideas. No matter where you go, happy trails to you!
Which travel website is your favorite?
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