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Find the Best Travel Sites

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Read our guide to research and choose the best travel site for you. Travel sites offer discounts, price guarantees and guides that help travelers book with confidence. You may find that you can get a great deal by visiting multiple sites, or you might find one that has all the options you need.

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What features should you look for in a travel site?

Travel discounts

Travel sites often offer discounts to attract more customers. Investigate these common options to make travel services affordable.

  • Bundled discounts: Take advantage of bundled discounts if you need flight, car rental and hotel reservation services.
  • Mobile app discounts: Using a travel site's mobile app may give you access to exclusive discounts on hotels, air travel, car rentals and other services.
  • Membership discounts: Use membership discounts to save money on travel services and reservations.
  • Loyalty rewards: Look for loyalty programs that will reward you when you book travel services through that website.

Booking services

Many travel sites partner with airlines, hotels, rental car agencies and other companies so customers can book all the services they need in one place.

  • Flights: Search flights from hundreds of domestic and international airlines.
  • Accommodations: Find accommodations at hotels and resorts or even private short-term rentals.
  • Rental cars: Compare rental car options to get the car you want at a reasonable price.
  • Vacation packages: Vacation packages bundle several services together to make booking a trip convenient and affordable.

Travel guides

Guides published by travel sites can help you choose destinations and activities that will make your trip more enjoyable. Some travel guides may match your needs more than others.

  • City guides: With city guides, you can get an overview of destination cities. They usually focus on urban areas like New York City, London and Paris, but some include smaller places, too.
  • Hotel reviews: Use hotel reviews to learn about what other people encountered during their travels. Some reviews are written by experts, but others are written by travelers who want to share their experiences.
  • Restaurant reviews: Restaurant reviews will help you choose eateries that offer good services as well as excellent foods.
  • Activities and events: Reading about activities and events can help you decide when you want to visit a city and what you will do once you reach your destination.

Price guarantees

It can be hard to commit to one website when you know how many deals are out there and how often they change. That's why many travel sites offer price guarantees.

  • Price matches: Price match guarantees ensure that you will get the lowest possible price even if another company has a cheaper offer. For instance, a site may lower its price if members find cheaper options from other companies.
  • Refunds: If you have already paid for your travel services, then many sites will issue refunds to match another company's price.
  • Rebates: Some travel websites will give you rebates that you can use on future services.
  • Payments: When you find a lower offer, some travel sites will pay you a small fee in addition to matching the competitor's price.

Convenience

Convenience is one of the most important features that a travel site can offer. The specific features that you get, however, will vary among companies.

  • Travel planning: Planning a trip is often easier when travel sites give you tools to review multiple offers and coordinate travel times.
  • Hotel comparisons: Tools to help you compare your options will make it easier for you to choose accommodations that are right for you.
  • Payments: Some sites provide travel information and offers, but you have to visit another company's website to pay for services. Others will let you make payments directly through their site.
  • Meta searches: By offering meta searches, a website can show you offers from a wider range of companies. That makes it more convenient for you to compare offers to get the best possible price.
  • Convenience fees: Some travel sites earn money by charging convenience fees when visitors book or pay for services online. Others collect money from service providers like airlines, hotels and rental agencies.

Mobile apps

Many travel sites have developed mobile apps that give travelers secure access to their online accounts. Look for companies that offer these and download the apps before going on your trip.

  • Planning: Mobile apps make it easy for travelers to make new plans even while they are on their trips.
  • Itineraries: Using a mobile app to review your travel itinerary will help ensure that you experience everything you wanted during your trip.
  • Payments: Mobile apps are often the most secure way to pay for services while traveling.
  • Guides: When you have spare time, use mobile travel guides to find interesting destinations near you.

What are the different types of travel sites?

Discount travel sites

Discount travel sites gather deals from other companies to help travelers find lower prices on flights, car rentals, hotel rooms and other travel necessities. In many cases, customers cannot make reservations through the travel site.

Booking travel sites

Booking travel sites do more than just help people find travel services online. They also let them book services directly through the websites.

Vacation package sites

Vacation package sites let customers bundle travel services so they can qualify for bigger discounts.

Travel sites FAQ

How do travel sites work?
Travel sites pull information from a variety of companies to create a comprehensive look at prices and options for travel. You can book flights, hotel rooms, rental cars and activities on travel sites and save money.
How do travel booking sites make money?
Like travel agents, these sites make commissions from airlines, hotel and other travel industry companies after they book reservations. They also sometimes make bulk purchases at discounted prices and then sell bookings at higher rates, making money on the difference.
How can I save money on a hotel?
There are several great ways to save money on a hotel:
  • Book your trip dates for the offseason or the middle of the week.
  • Be flexible with your hotel's location. Often, a downtown hotel is more expensive than a location farther from the city center.
  • When using a travel site, consider bundling your airfare, hotel and car rental to get discounts.
  • Join hotel rewards programs.
  • Book using special rates (e.g., AAA, AARP, senior, government)
Is it better to book directly with an airline?
No, booking through a travel site is often just as good of an option as booking with an airline. Travel sites help customers save time and money, though booking through a specific airline may make it easier to build up frequent flier benefits or change travel details.
How far ahead should you book international flights?
The best time to buy international flights is between three and six months before your travel date. Generally, the further in advance you book, the lower the rates. To get the best deals on international flights, start planning earlier than you would for domestic travel.
Is it better to book directly with a hotel?
Not necessarily. Travel sites show you side-by-side comparisons of rates and features at various hotels, and prices are often as cheap as booking directly. However, if you enjoy staying with a specific hotel brand or want to book special rates, you may choose to book directly. Also, consider a travel site’s rewards program versus a hotel’s when deciding how to make your reservation.

Not sure how to choose?

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    Author reviews for travel sites

    BookIt.com

    BookIt.com is an online travel agency based in Panama City Beach, Florida. The company focuses on helping travelers find deals in the United States, Mexico and the Caribbean.

    Read more about BookIt.com
    AUTHORIZED PARTNER
    CheapOair

    CheapOair was founded in New York City in 2005 to help travelers book flights, hotel rooms and rental cars. About 20 million people visit the website each month.

    • Exclusive deals: CheapOair can offer exclusive deals because it has agreements with over 450 airlines around the world.
    • Customer services: CheapOair has strong customer services and an extensive FAQ section to help users find the services they need.
    • Vacation packages: CheapOair bundles flights, hotels and car rentals to help travelers save money.
    • Price guarantee: The company offers a best price guarantee that will match lower prices offered by other travel sites.
    • Customer care: CheapOair's 24/7 customer service won the 2014 International Service Excellence Award.
    • IATAN and ASTA certified: Industry certifications tell consumers that CheapOair has met industry standards for quality and customer service.
    Read 7355 Reviews
    TripAdvisor

    TripAdvisor is one of the world's largest travel websites. It primarily relies on user-generated content to help travelers choose destinations and activities that interest them.

    Read more about TripAdvisor
    Booking.com

    Booking.com is an Amsterdam-based company founded in 1996. Unlike most travel companies, it focuses exclusively on helping travelers reserve rooms.

    Read more about Booking.com
    Orbitz

    Orbitz is an online travel website owned by Expedia Inc. It was founded in 2001 and acquired by Expedia in 2015.

    Read more about Orbitz
    Hotwire

    Hotwire is a San Francisco-based company that helps travelers find discounted rates on a wide range of services, including flights, car rentals and hotel rooms.

    Read 1701 Reviews
    Travelocity

    Travelocity is a Dallas-based travel company owned by Sabre Corporation, a travel technology company that has been in business since 1960.

    Read more about Travelocity
    Hotels.com

    Hotels.com is a website dedicated to helping travelers find lodging at hotels, motels and resorts. It lists deals from over 325,000 hotels around the world.

    Read more about Hotels.com
    Priceline

    Priceline is a Connecticut-based company that helps travelers find discounted rates offered by a wide range of travel businesses, including hotels and airlines.

    Read more about Priceline
    AUTHORIZED PARTNER
    OneTravel

    OneTravel is a Pennsylvania-based travel website that was started in the mid-1990s.

    • Newsletter: OneTravel uses a daily newsletter to keep its members updated on the latest deals.
    • Hotels: Travelers can find discounts at over 84,000 hotels.
    • International travel: OneTravel books hotels in and flights to countries all over the world.
    • Business class flights: Travelers can specify that they want business class flights so they can focus on options that match their needs.
    • Rewards: OneTravel members earn points that they can use to lower the prices of flights, hotel rooms and rental cars.
    Read 1111 Reviews
    CheapTickets

    CheapTickets is an online travel company owned by Orbitz Worldwide Inc. Its focus is helping leisure travelers find rental cars, cruises, accommodations and airline tickets.

    Read more about CheapTickets
    Expedia

    Founded in 1996, Expedia is one of the oldest online travel companies. It was created by a team at Microsoft.

    Read more about Expedia
    KAYAK

    KAYAK is a search engine that connects travelers to services offered by travel agencies all over the world. It was founded in 2004 and acquired by the Priceline Group in 2013.

    Read more about KAYAK
    Jetsetter

    Jetsetter is a members-only travel community that offers exclusive deals and insider guides to destinations all over the world. It was purchased by TripAdvisor in 2013.

    Read more about Jetsetter
    trivago

    trivago is a metasearch engine that helps people browse deals from over 900,000 hotels around the world.

    Read more about trivago
    Travelzoo

    Travelzoo has connections to more than 2,000 travel and entertainment companies to give tourists access to fun activities as well as travel services.

    Read more about Travelzoo
    Airbnb

    Airbnb is a marketplace for people to list or find accommodations around the world. People list their homes or apartment online, and people rent them for a listed rate and time. The company was founded in 2008 in San Francisco, California, and now Airbnb has users and listings in over 65,000 cities in more than 190 countries.

    Read more about Airbnb

    Compare Top Travel Site Reviews

    The ConsumerAffairs Research Team believes everyone deserves to make smart decisions. We aim to provide readers with the most up-to-date information available about today's consumer products and services.

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