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.
Flights, hotels, cars — one-stop booking engines
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.
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.
Search nearly 600,000 hotels. Good gracious! Is that every hotel?
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.)
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!
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.
Discounted & alternative accommodations
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.
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.
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 →
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 🙂
TripIt & TripIt Pro
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.