I get asked a lot about what sites I use to book travel. I'm by no means an authority on the subject, however, my credentials include a 31-day, 4 country-tour of Europe that cost my husband and I less than $7k, and a week in Guadeloupe that cost us less than $700, including meals. I use tons of websites (and as a result, I get tons of spam) however, I thought I'd share a few of my favorite resources.
- AirfareWatchdog.com lets you set up alerts for specific destinations, sending you weekly updates on those. I currently get emailed updates showing me fares for RT Baltimore-New Orleans, RT Baltimore-London. Even if I'm not planning a trip immediately, it nice to get an idea of median prices throughout the year so I can have an idea of prices to aim for when I do need to book something. (Yes, there are plenty apps and websites that will fetch this data, but I haven't found anything as reliable as keeping my own tabs.)
- TravelZoo.com is a good place to find very good trip package deals, amassed from all around the travel industry, not just other third-party websites.
- Sherman's Travel offers good rates on more "adventurous" trips-- Patagonia, China, Nepal, etc. I believe they also set up group-travel for you, although I've never compared prices for tours.
- I book last-minute hotels through HotWire.com Their "HotRate" thing is very good even with advance booking as long as you do not require a specific hotel. I have rarely -if ever- gotten rates as low for either hotels or flights through Priceline; the "Name Your Own Price" thing sounds great, but it usually punts back $30 off of a standard rate or something equally disappointing.
- When it comes to accommodations: AirBnB is the obvious choice for cheap digs, especially if you have time for shenanigans involving or poor directions or hosts who are MIA at time of check-in. If I'm aiming for more reliable service and property descriptions (and I'm willing to pay a bit more!), I use TripAdvisor.com which uses listings from VRBO.com and HomeAway and FlipKey if I remember correctly.
- I find myself booking air travel through OneTravel.com often; tickets are usually the cheapest, or at least on par with the lowest you will find. Bonus: since I use them so much, they've started giving me way better customer service, including refunds for "non-refundable" flights (the holy grail, as far as I'm concerned). I still check Spirit, Southwest, and Jet Blue individually, since these cheap Chinatown-buses-of-the-air rarely affiliate themselves with third-party resale companies.
- Speaking of budget airlines, America is eons behind Europe in this area, and navigating the sales, apps, and passenger restrictions that border on the illegal would require a whole blog post unto itself. (If you can commiserate with me on this, you'll love "Come Fly With Us.") Those single- and double-digit ticket prices are totally irresistible, and they KNOW that. If you are constantly making the mistake of flying RyanAir, EasyJet, etc, the way I do, then you know 1) pack so light that you don't have a check-bag; 2) print out every piece of ticketing info like it is 2002; 3) practice meditation to survive 3 hour queues to check in for a 6:30 a.m. flight.
I haven't quite gotten a handle on those amazing frequent-flyer mile loop-holes. If you have great sources for information, or recommendations to add, I'd love to hear them!