One of the most important things for getting around well on the road is knowing how to save money when booking. Here are many of the places I go to first for finding flights and accommodations on the road. Notice some of these links may be affiliate links.
Should you book directly through the Vendor or through an aggregator?
One of the things I often think about is whether I should book my flights through the airline itself or through Kayak or Expedia or some other aggregator search engine.
Why Book through an Aggregator?
Often places like Kayak or others can seem to be a lot cheaper. Also if you are trying to book multi airline flights this is also a lot easier to do from a third party site.
Why use the Airline?
If you have an issue, having booked through the airline allows you to have more options in terms of remedying it. Otherwise the airline will require you to call the booking agent.
If you are using points or if you are trying to book more complicated things such as a Round the World flight, you’ll need to use the airline site.
Note: RTW flights often require you to use a special site set up by the airline Alliance.
I almost always try to book through the airlines directly if I can. When I’ve had issues, booking through the airline made this easier to resolve.
For some reason I almost always book through an aggregator such as Booking.com. I also nearly always check both the hotel site and the aggregator.
Oddly, I’ve had better luck getting good deals (as well as cancelable bookings) through third party sites than I have through the hotel’s own website.
Hotel’s claim you can always get the lowest price through their site. But I’ve found this to be hit or miss.
Useful Booking Sites
Kayak is only my goto first site for checking airfares. It does a great job of checking a lot of different carriers for the best prices. One of the best features is that you can put in multiple origin and destination airports (You need to put in the airport codes) and it will show you the best flights to those destinations if you have a few places in mind you might want to go. Also be sure to check out Kayak Explore for some ideas on prices in different areas of the world when you want to go. It shows flights other had booked recently to those destinations.
A great website to check too especially if you are flying from Europe. It seems to be better for Europe flights than it is for North American. I love their “everywhere” destination which lets you see flights based on cost from your particular home airport. It also includes a lot of the low cost carriers that some of the other search tools miss.
I’m just starting to get into hipmunk, but its a neat website and does an interesting job with finding flights. They also have a sort by Agony which is a neat feature and useful to finding the best of several trade offs (price / layovers).
After Google purchased ITA (which all other sites use for their software searches), they’ve made a big push into the flight search arena. It is definitely worth checking out although it doesn’t seem to get all the international carriers that some of the others do.
Along with Kayak I go here for my international flights. Surprisingly I have found different prices through here than I saw for similar flights on Kayak (and some routes that didn’t show up there). It is a great thing to use in connection with other flight search options.
A great website for booking all sorts of rail passes in Europe, including Eurostar. They have all the eurail passes, including combo passes between countries. Also I bought my Swiss Transfer Pass from here too which was useful for doing quick trips in/out of Switzerland.
More useful for those who are Youths, but they have some great prices on a lot of things. Also one of the best places I have found for getting rail passes, including the Japanese Rail Pass.
I don’t use Expedia for many things these days but they do have some great city breaks, including using the Eurostar. I’ve found deals here that were cheaper through Expedia for train/hotel than it was just for train alone through the Eurostar website. Some good cruise deals too if that is your thing.
I found this website a few years ago when I was doing a lot of travel through Europe. It has a great selection of hotels and hostels and one of the best features is the search is easy to find the cheapest price for a solo person too. I pick it over a lot of the other big websites, particularly if I’m traveling around through Europe.
A great website particularly if you are traveling through Asia. One of my first stops for Asia travel as it has some of the best rates and thorough listings for hotels, guest houses, inns, etc.
I remember the old days where booking hostels was difficult through the internet. However those days are mostly in the past, and one of the best sites out there for booking hostels is hostelworld. I always check them when I’m traveling budget through the world (i.e. when not on business travel).
Great for US travel and also for some international too. If you don’t care which hotel chain you are using, you can get some great deals here. A good tip is that if you thinking of the “express deals”. First check the prices and then do a name your own price a few dollars less you. I’ve had good luck snagging it for less this way.
I’m starting to really like Air BnB these days. There are a ton of options from sleeping on a coach, to rooms, to whole houses/apartments. You can sometimes get yourself a nice deal in many of the big cities. Plus you’ll see how the locals live too!
You can find some wonderful hosts around the world through CouchSurfing. You can stay and meet some wonderful people this way. Do remember though that it is more than just a place to “get a free stay”, it is the community aspect that makes it great. Also a lot of cities have couchsurfing meetups that you can go and meet some wonderful people. A great way to make new friends / travel partners.
Ever wonder if the seat you chose is a good one? Seat Expert does a great job of telling you where on the airplane you should sit depending on the airline and plane type. Great for long trips so you don’t get a terrible seat!
One of the most comprehensive and useful websites on Travel ratings around. Even my mom knows to use this site! If you want to go somewhere and know if a hotel is good, check Trip Advisor. Granted you’ll get all sorts of reviews but its quite good overall.