If not, then let’s face it: you’ve neither the time nor the inclination to visit a traditional travel agent anymore. From the high pressure sales tactics to the lack of clarity on what you’re getting, agents have fallen out of favor. That’s not to say they are all bad, and for certain occasions – an exclusive rendezvous or honeymoon, for example – they are invaluable. But for your regular travel needs, the best place to get good value for money is the Internet.
Here’s a few of the sites my friends and I frequent and how they compare:
If I want a flight, Kayak is my first stop for a sense check as to pricing and departure dates. I’m a no fuss kind of guy, so I really appreciate their no nonsense user interface, and their new iPhone app is fabulous (so one fellow sojourner tells me). Plus they quote competitors as well.
Even if you’re not a fan of the garden gnome, you should be a fan of Travelocity; they have some fantastic deals and offers for package holidays, and even sweeter last-minute deals as well if you’re in the mood. They were one of the first Internet travel sites, so they’ve had plenty of time to perfect the process.
Expedia is quite similar to Travelocity in terms of offers and site layout. They’ve come under pressure in the past for customer service issues (particularly with major schedule problems or changes), but I haven’t experienced any issues so don’t let this put you off. They also have their own “Thank You” points membership scheme.
Orbitz is known for their low price guarantee – if another customer books on the same flight for cheaper, they’ll refund you the difference. It’s a policy full of holes, but I say it is better than nothing. Their easy-to-use site is second only to Kayak in terms of your overall browsing experience.
Hotwire is one of those sites where you get massive deals but don’t always know the name of your hotel until you book. If loyalty programs are important to you then this isn’t the best option. But Hotwire, as their name implies, has some hot deals.
There is an explosion of online travel sites and most of the better known ones will reliably get the job done. Which is the best for you is really a matter of preference. If you have not used one, getting started is usually the biggest challenge. I think any of the ones listed here will do a good job. Once you’re on there, then it is pretty easy way to conduct your routine travel affairs.