Best Travel Deals On the Net: The Ultimate Guide to Planning Your Travel Online
Ryan: Last minute travel deals is what we’re gonna talk about. Cody lost his voice because his hair is getting really long, he needs a haircut. And it’s getting caught in his throat now.
Cody: You think that’s what it is?
Ryan: It’s just a weird thing. Yeah, so we’re gonna talk about last minute travel deals. So spring break is coming up. And if you’re like me, you rely entirely on your wife to plan things. And you don’t tell her to plan them. And then, you need… Yeah, I know. It’s just the way I am. So this is called Hotel Tonight. This is a mobile app only. This is pretty cool because what happens is… I didn’t know this. Hotels, they don’t sell out every room every night. And so those excess rooms, they’ve gotta do something with them. So they list them on services like this. So you can come in quickly if you land in New York City, for example, and you just wanna find a cheap hotel, it will give you all the places that you can go to. And that’s mobile only. If you prefer a desktop experience, you wanna look a little bit more, this one is pretty cool. This is called HotelQuickly. This one has 265,000 hotels worldwide, and this is international. And they promise you that if you book by at least 4 a.m. in the morning, you can check in that night. So that’s pretty cool.
Cody: Oh, that is really cool.
Ryan: If you land in Bangkok without hotel reservations, because…why wouldn’t you? This is the place to go. Now, if you wanna get a cheap flight, this is pretty cool. Now, this place is called Skyscanner. And they have an option called Everywhere. So if you’re just like, “I don’t know what I wanna do, but I wanna take a weekend trip,” you can click Everywhere and Search flights, and it will give you places you can go with prices. It also has charts and graphs, so you can decide, “Well, what’s the best time to fly? Should I fly out on a Tuesday, come back on a Sunday?” or whatever. It’ll give you all those comparisons.
Cody: That’s cool.
Ryan: Isn’t that cool?
Cody: That will open you up, it’s like opening up your pantry with some new spices [inaudible 00:01:38].
Ryan: Yes, so we have talked about Kayak, I don’t know… Probably every year that I do this segment, we talk about Kayak. Kayak is amazing. It’s gonna compare prices with Priceline and… I can’t remember all of them. Priceline, Expedia, Orbitz, Travelocity, all those crazy ones. So you don’t have to go to all those different websites, it’s all right there. And of course, if you’re gonna take a cruise, this is called CruiseSheet. And this is pretty cool because it shows you where to go if you wanna go to a specific space and where… Maybe, you take a flight to San Diego to fly out to go to the one that’s in Mexico. Or you go to Seattle. It will show you where to fly out of, also where you wanna go on your destinations, and how to get the best deals.
Cody: Oh, that’s cool.
Ryan: So it’s called CruiseSheet.
Cody: By the way, do they sell T-shirts? Because that’s a great logo.
Ryan: Isn’t that cool?
Cody: That is a really good logo. Wicked things that I point out.
Ryan: I know.
Cody: Thank you very much.
Ryan: I’m glad you got your voice back.
Cody: Thank you.
Ryan: Isn’t that beautiful [inaudible 00:02:28]?
Cody: It happened just in time for me to toss back to the ladies.
Woman: How about that?
When it comes time to plan a getaway, most of us turn to the Internet to research, plan, dream and – eventually – book reservations.
But a few minutes into this enjoyable escapade and it can devolve quickly into frustration. There are so many sites it’s easy to get overwhelmed with too many choices, and everyone seems to promise that they have the best deals.
We travel a lot, for fun and for work. And over the years we’ve identified those sites we return to again and again, as well as a few hidden gems you may have never heard of before.
We’ve compiled this ULTIMATE list travel resources to help you find your dream destination, match your budget with options, or score a last-minute deal.
Before you get packing, here are some sites to check out.
Decide on your Destination
When you know you want to explore your world, but aren’t sure exactly where you want to go next, there are some great sites designed to help you narrow down your options.
While it would be awesome if money was no object, that isn’t the reality for anyone I know.
The first step in deciding your vacation destination is figuring out how far your dollars can get you, and Destigogo can give you some direction.
Enter your travel dates and budget and the site will tell you where you can afford to go. You can filter results by preferences like sun, city, adventure, and road trip.
You’ll save a bunch of time researching destinations that are beyond your reach while getting to see just how far you can go on your budget.
Another great source of vacation inspiration is Skyscanner.
Enter the airport closest to your home and select your travel dates.
In the destination field, simply enter “everywhere.”
You’ll see a bunch of suggestions for destinations sorted by price and country.
If you already have a destination mind, make sure to select the cheapest day/month option when searching for a flight.
It’ll require you to a little flexible but it’s worth the hundreds you can save.
If you’re looking for a quick escape, check out the “weekend trip” deals.
You’re likely to find some great deals with deep discounts. Tip: When searching for a flight, make sure to sort flights with layovers. The least expensive options often have a longer total time to destination and you’ll want to factor that into your decision.
Make Sure it’s a Match with TripAdvisor
Before you commit to a destination and start looking for deals, check out TripAdvisor.
Browse through the detailed user reviews of hotels, restaurants, and attractions to get a better idea of whether or not the location offers the activities and amenities that you’re looking for.
Sometimes, you’ll find some tidbits of advice leading you to attractions you may have missed.
I also find that traveler reviews can be immensely beneficial when used appropriately.
Keep in mind that every traveler has different expectations. Someone may give a resort one star because the public beach in front of it was crowded. Others may give 5 stars to a place that’s barely better than a tent because it was cheap.
Still, I find that looking consistencies and common themes in reviews is a good indicator of truth. Don’t pass over a 3-star place that catches your eye until you read through enough reviews to see what is factoring into that rating.
Find The Best Flights At Great Prices
Once you’ve narrowed down a few destinations, you’ll probably need to find a flight.
These sites are our first stop to identify affordable flights.
Cheap flights might save you cash, but they can often cost you in inconvenience and frustration.
They could mean that you have to take the red-eye flight at 3 am, late landings (like 11 pm or later), or lengthy layovers leaving you stranded at airports.
None of that sounds like a fun way to start a vacation.
Hipmunk factors the “agony” into cheap flights.
Enter your destination and dates on the platform and you’ll only see flights sorted by agony factors like price, flight duration, and the number of stops.
These flights won’t be the absolute cheapest you can get.
But it will give you an idea of how much extra you’d need to spend if you don’t want to compromise on comfort.
Another less-known search engine for finding flights is Jetradar.
The website compiles information about flights in a clean, easy-to-use UI. Important details like price and flight time are included.
By highlighting these parameters, it’s easy to spot why the cheapest or “best” flight is sometimes a terrible idea.
For example, in some cases paying $65 more can reduce travel time from 14 hrs to 6 hrs.
Do you really want to spend 8 hours lounging around an airport during your vacation?
Another great place to do your homework before buying a ticket is FareCompare.
The website provides gives you information on price trends of flights from 75 airports. This helps you book to flights when prices are at their lowest.
If you have your heart set on visiting a specific location, use the Fare Tracker feature to get notified when a new deal to your destination of choice pops up on the radar.
Or use the “Getaway Map” to “discover new destinations within your travel budget.” With it, you can search by activity, travel season, or region.
Scoring a Deal on a Vacation Package
If you aren’t looking to book each portion of your trip separately, vacation packages can make a lot of sense.
Consolidators bundle the least expensive flight option(s) with various hotels and then let you add on all the extras (rental car, airport transfers, activities and more) through a single vendor.
The benefit is that you have one point of contact instead of 3-4 different confirmation emails, credit card charges, etc.
The challenge is that it can be difficult to modify one part of a bundled reservation, and you can find yourself having to play man in the middle between the hotel or airline and the booking agent if something goes wrong.
Still, these bundles can offer substantial savings and convenience.
If a vacation bundle sounds good to you, check out:
If you’re looking for the absolute best deals, TravelZoo is worth a visit.
The site aggregates the best deals from around the web.
You can even set alerts to destinations that interest you and the platform will send you an email notification a new deal goes live, making booking a breeze.
If you love to travel but don’t have time to check for deals on your own all the time, sign up for the weekly top 20.
These are exclusive member-only deals that go out via email every Wednesday showcasing the best deals for the week.
Remember to be quick because some of the popular destinations get snapped up quickly.
This can save you hours of surfing multiple travel sites on the web.
- Cheap Caribbean
No prizes for guessing what this site is about.
Cheap Caribbean specializes in deals and discounts for resorts, cruises, and much more for destinations in the Caribbean.
I’ve personally booked travel through this site myself and found that it offered the best package deals to popular destinations like Cancun, Playa Del Carmen, Punta Cana and Jamaica.
I liked being able to sort by All-Inclusive (a huge selling point when booking family beach-bum trips) and be able to quickly see their “best deals” in one place.
Compare with One Click
Ok, maybe it will take a few clicks.
But comparison sites are a great way to make sure you’ve found the best price without spending hours checking each travel booking site individually.
There’s no worse feeling than finding a cheaper fare right after you’ve booked your vacation.
To avoid this, most of us browse around and cross-check prices on multiple sites to make sure we’re paying the absolute minimum.
But have you really checked everywhere?
Kayak lets you compare prices of flights, hotels, and entire packages across major travel booking sites.
Here are few sites it pulls data from:
If you want to wait until prices drop, set alerts to make monitoring easy.
- Booking Buddy
Similar to Kayak, Booking Buddy helps you find the best possible deals online.
You can compare prices across websites for flights, hotels, cars, and even cruises.
You may find sites with better travel deals that you never heard of before.
Check out some more tips for getting a great deal. In this video we cover things like why you should clear your cache before you book, when you should buy your tickets, and why you should consider checking prices at different airports before you commit:
Look For Your Home Away From Home
Where you choose to stay can make or break your trip.
If you’re stuck in a dingy room or your hotel smells, you’re not going to have fond memories.
There are plenty of services that help you avert disaster and find a great hotel in a nice part of town and keep costs down.
Ever feel betrayed by images of a room?
You know what I’m talking about.
You book a room by a secluded beach expecting untouched ocean views only to arrive and find holidaymakers and surfers abound, along with tourist-trap hawkers and piles of debris.
The property apparently posted ideal photos from a clear day in winter, when everyone visits in Summer.
Enter Oyster, a review site that staffs its own investigators.
The site routinely sends out in-house photojournalists to test and review hotels. They take pride in being objective and honest with their feedback.
Some of the more egregious examples of promotional photos that look nothing like reality are compiled in the “Photo Fakeouts” section, like this one of the Mandalay Bay in Vegas.
- Unusual hotels
Like the name suggests, this site lists unconventional abodes.
Unusual Hotels Of The World has properties in 200 locations and picking any from the list will probably leave your family talking about this vacation for years.
The site has everything from a room in a tower to your own magic mountain.
If that doesn’t get you excited, how about staying in the world’s largest beagle for just $100 a night? That’s right, I said beagle.
You know you’re dying to drop $100 a night to stay in the world’s largest beagle.
If you can’t decide, the site has plenty of suggestions: unique experiences like underwater living, treehouses, and igloos.
And it offers unusual accommodations all over the world, so you can find an off-the-wall vacation destination in your own backyard.
Last Minute Hotels Don’t Have to Cost You Big
It used to be a pretty solid travel rule that the way to get good deals is to plan ahead.
These days, last-minute travelers can score a great deal from airlines and hotels looking to fill vacancies that will otherwise go unused.
- Hotel Tonight
Unsold hotel rooms are bad for business.
That’s why they end up on Hotel Tonight, a free mobile app available for iOS and Android.
Hotels list their unsold rooms, often for a fraction of their typical price. Fire up the app and you’ll see rooms available around you in a map-view.
With 15,000 properties in over 35 countries, it’s a safe bet to find a place to crash.
Not only do you get to see the best deal in one app but the app promises to only include hotels “where they’d stay too.”
This is a great resource for finding inspiration for a last minute weekend getaway, particularly if you live in drivable distance to desirable destinations.
With over 265,000 properties worldwide across hotspots like New York, Tokyo, and Paris, HotelQuickly offers a surefire way to find cheap accommodation on a whim.
The site guarantees best deals on last-minute bookings.
Available as a website platform and app, it’s a solid resource for spontaneous travel or finding something in a pinch.
Note: If you want a room the same night as your booking date, you’ll have to make your reservation by 4 am. Otherwise, there’s a day waiting period.
The app version organizes all the data by price and destinations by region.
You can book up to a year in advance, though the best deals are generally found when booking a day or two before your stay.
Save More On The Cost Of Your Hotel with Pruvo
Making a purchase, then finding out the price dropped just a few days later can be a frustrating experience. Even more frustrating is if you never find out about the change in price at all!
Am I right?
In comes Pruvo. If you’ve never heard about Pruvo, now is the time to get to know them.
Known as the “Robin Hood” of the hotel industry, Pruvo is a free, automatic web service that tracks price drops of hotels AFTER you’ve booked your hotel reservation!
Once you’ve chosen the perfect room, Pruvo will notify you once they detect a better price for the same exact room.
You don’t have to do much to make sure you’re snagging the best deal possible, all you need to do is forward your existing hotel reservation to [email protected] and let Pruvo work its magic.
Hotel prices are ever-changing, so take the guesswork out of trying to figure out if you really did get the best price for your hotel room.
Get Yourself Some Wheels
Unless you’re in a big city, you’re going to need a car to get around.
You might think that car rental prices don’t fluctuate but that’s not true. Rates for renting a car fluctuate just like flights and hotels.
To get the best rate, use AutoSlash to compare quotes.
Cars of any size, type, and make are available.
The service will continuously check prices even after you book a car. If price drops, your rental will be automatically rebooked for free!
- AAA Gas Calculator
Heading somewhere in-state or a few states over?
It might be cheaper to drive there than to fly. Check out AAA Gas Calculator to help you make the decision between driving and flying.
Enter your route and car details and the calculator will estimate how much it’ll cost you to drive.
Sail In Style On Your Dream Cruise
Cruises can make for relaxing and memorable vacations.
But they can get pricey, particularly once you start to upgrade from the tiny closet-sized cabin in the cargo storage area that the best deals price is based on.
CruiseSheet is a dedicated search platform to help you find the best value cruises. Pick your start region and dates
Everything from transatlantic luxury cruises with deluxe suites to short cruises where you can let your hang down, you’ll find the lowest prices for whatever your heart desires.
I like the “Anywhere” option, along with the large window of travel dates, for finding the best deals in your area for the time of season you’re looking to travel.
Cruise consolidators promise the best deal on the web, but the truth is that prices tend to be consistent across cruise booking sites.
What a consolidator will give you is the ability to see cruises offered to your destination of choice from several different cruise lines and vendors, all in one search result.
Seahub, like many other consolidation sites, lets you see all the options going to your destination of choice, of departing from your preferred port of call, in one handy search.
Prices for different cabin locations are clearly displayed.
And the primary benefit of consolidation sites – perks offered for booking – are plentiful. From onboard credit to room upgrades, it pays to at least peruse the consolidators before you book your next cruise.
Keeping Track of Your Travel Plans with Tripit
When you book your travel through various sites in order to score the best deal, it can be challenging to keep track of the various confirmation numbers and details.
Consider using an organization program to keep it all straight.
Once everything is booked and confirmed, forward your confirmations to TripIt and they’ll compile the information into a single, handy itinerary.
The service will add details like departure dates and confirmation numbers into your calendar. It can even share the details with friends, family, and coworkers.
Get Outta Town!
Traveling on a budget, or with limited time, can be challenging without the tools to easily find the best options and rates.
With these travel sites, you can find an adventure that fits your goals and resources.