Best Travel Booking Sites and Apps (2014)

I’m a somewhat frequent traveler and have been for some time. Over the years, I’ve found many exceptional resources in terms of booking engines and planning sites. Those listed below have helped me get on the road at one time or another. Some, I’ve been using for years, others, are brand new to me and have proven to be useful already.

United flight over a stormy Missouri back to Washington, DC

United flight over a stormy Missouri from Seattle to Washington, DC

Flights, hotels, cars — one-stop booking engines  

Hipmunk.com  

http://www.hipmunk.com/

Get the app →

Search flights in swim-lane-diagram fashion – sorting by agony (length of flight), price, duration, departure or arrival time or date, or airline. Compare booking engines, set price alert notifications and you’re (almost) on your way.

Hipmunk also offers a wide range of comprehensive search options for accommodations and transportation – perfect for those who maybe don’t know at what type of place they want to stay and/or by which mode of transport they will take to get there. Search commercial flights, trains, charter flights; large hotels, home stays and apartment rentals, and other favorites like Airbnb and Homeaway.

Hipmunk allows you to sort by agony, duration, price, and departure time

Hipmunk allows you to sort by agony, duration, price, and departure time

 

Kayak

http://www.kayak.com

Get the app →

Enter your departure point and destination and Kayak will search hundreds of airlines and travel engines (Priceline, Expedia, Hotwire, etc.) finding the most competitive prices on the web. Set up an alert well in advance and wait for news of airfare price increases, decreases, stalls… essentially, they tell you when to buy your ticket.

Not sure to where or when you want to travel? Try out Kayak’s “Explore” feature to search base travel prices by season on the interactive world map. When I need some globetrotting inspiration, this is where I go.

Kayak.com -- my first stop to check base prices for air, car and hotel

My first stop to check base prices for air, car and hotel

 

Booking.com

http://www.booking.com

Get the app →

Search nearly 600,000 hotels. Good gracious! Is that every hotel?

Booking.com searches hotels in 65000 destinations worldwide

Booking.com searches hotels in 65,000 destinations worldwide

 

Expedia

http://www.expedia.com

Get the app →

Expedia has on numerous occasions presented me with the best airfare price available to far-flung places, so I always compare here before I book. And, when you book a trip through Expedia, your itinerary and travel details are automatically loaded into your linked TripIt account! (See travel planning section for a tool I can’t live without.)

Expedia was the winner of the 2013 People's Voice Award for best mobile app

Expedia was the winner of the 2013 People’s Voice Award for best mobile travel app

 

Trivago

http://www.trivago.com/

Get the app → Apple | Android

Compare hotel prices on 205 booking sites at once. Tried this for the first time last week and sure enough – found a screaming deal for hotel rooms in New York City, not an easy feat!

Trivago lets you compare hotel fares on 200+ booking sites at once

Trivago lets you compare hotel fares on 200+ booking sites at once

 

AirTreks 

http://www.airtreks.com

This is one site that without a doubt inspires me to trot the globe. By either selecting cities on an interactive map or by typing in city names, you can build your ideal scenario for a trip around the world — one, one-way ticket at a time. There may be cheaper ways to organize a round-the-world trip, but if you want to plan well in advance, this is one site that helps you do that.

My dummy trip (a girl’s got to dream!):

Washington D.C.   Mexico City   Rarotonga (Cook Islands)   Auckland   Sydney   Port Moresby   Bali   Jakarta   Phuket   Kathmandu   Maldives   Seychelles   Antananarivo (Madagascar)   Maputo (Mozambique)   Gaborone (Botswana)   Maun   Casablanca    Paris   Washington D.C.

$USD $7,575 to USD $10,453  – which is actually, a pretty good deal for so many flights.

Design your dream trip the practical way by checking airfare prices as you build your itinerary

Design your dream trip the practical way by checking airfare prices as you build your itinerary

 

Discounted & alternative accommodations

Hotel Tonight

http://www.hoteltonight.com

Get the app → Apple | Android

Hotels give their unsold rooms from the day to Hotel Tonight, HT shows the day’s best values in their mobile app, you book heavily discounted accommodations for that same night easily and securely on your smartphone. Everybody wins.

Hotel Tonight provides rooms at screaming deals when you book day of

Hotel Tonight provides rooms at screaming deals when you book day of your stay

 

Airbnb

https://www.airbnb.com/

Get the app →

Awesome, unique accommodations in all shapes and sizes and prices in 190 countries. With more than 15 million nights booked worldwide, Airbnb is the world leader in travel rentals. Great if you want to live like a local too, in my experience. This is where I found my long term apartment in Buenos Aires.

Airbnb has seemingly every type of accommodation

Airbnb has seemingly every type of accommodation

 

BeadAndBreakfast.com

http://www.bedandbreakfast.com

Everything from luxury bed and breakfasts to sprawling inns — see photos, read reviews, and book a unique hotel or B&B for your next vacation or special occasion.

BedAndBreakfast.com doesn’t have a mobile app as far as I can tell, but Select Registry has an excellent mobile B&B app. Get the app →

Find and/or list Bed & Breakfasts in all price ranges across the world

Find and/or list Bed & Breakfasts in all price ranges across the world

 

HomeExchange

https://www.homeexchange.com

Get the app → Apple

55,000 homes in 150 countries. So, there are options.  There is no initiation fee, yearly membership is only $120, and with that you get unlimited free exchanges. If you own a house and are serious about adventure, this could be one of the best ways to fly off.

Trade your home with other wannabe vagabonds -- simple

Trade your home with other wannabe vagabonds

 

JetSetter

http://www.jetsetter.com/

Get the app →

Jetsetter is an invite-only online community geared to travelers looking for exclusive deals in high-end travel. Perfect for the jet-set crowd, as the name suggests.

Jetsetter is an invite only online community of travelers that provides members with deals to high-end hotels

Jetsetter is an invite only online community of travelers that provides members with deals to high-end hotels

 

 

Pre-trip planning

Rome2Rio

http://www.rome2rio.com/ 

Not sure how to get from Washington, DC to the world’s oldest desert? Rome2Rio helps you discover how to get anywhere by plane, train, bus, ferry and automobile. Just enter two points into the search feature and chart the best possible routes.

Find travel routes with Rome2Rio

Find travel routes with Rome2Rio

 

Yapta 

http://www.yapta.com

Get the app →

After you’ve booked your plane ticket, register it with Yapta. If the price of your ticket falls below what you paid for it, Yapta will credit you the difference. Money in the bank. But mostly you will find that you bought your ticket at a competitive price.

Get refunds when the prices drop on already booked fare

Get refunds when the prices drop on already booked fare

 

 

Triposo

http://www.triposo.com/

Get the app → Apple | Android

I see this as a complement to Trip Advisor. Covering more than 8,000 locations (at the time of writing this article) Trivago enables users to search activities and establishments based on things like weather, time of year, and other factors. Another notable feature is that the app works without Internet access.

Find things to do based on your location -- no wifi needed

Find things to do based on your location — no wifi needed

 

TripAdvisor

http://www.tripadvisor.com

Get the app →

Trip Advisor is simply a must. I pay some attention to the overall star rating, but more to the details given in reviews. I am usually looking for information on specific features (does the restaurant have an awesome patio? Is the hotel clean? Is the attraction a crowded one?) I use this app to plan experiences in advance, while on the go on travel, and at home in Washington, DC. And, I’m a Senior Reviewer 🙂

Can't really beat TripAdvisor for the what to do and where to stay -- millions of reviews to guide you

Can’t really beat TripAdvisor for the what to do and where to stay — millions of reviews to guide you

 

TripIt & TripIt Pro

https://www.tripit.com

Get the app →

TripIt mobile trip planner helps you curate your past, present and future travel plans by helping you access reservations, maps and more on your mobile device.

TripIt Pro “Point Tracker” keeps track of all of your reward-program information in one spot. Airlines, car rentals, hotels, credit cards – no matter where the points come from, Pro stores all your account numbers, balances, and expirations in one place. It’s $49 a year.

The one travel planner I can't live without -- not just for forward planning but for record keeping as well. A must for a serious traveler

The one travel planner I can’t live without — not just for forward planning but for record keeping as well. A must for a serious traveler

 

 Happy hunting! 

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Categories: Adventure + Exploration, How to do things, Life. Style., Lists, Stories, Travel Tips, Websites + Tech, Where to Travel

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