Thursday, December 21, 2006

Tackling Travel Sites

Question: Help!! I'm overwhelmed by all the travel engines, Travelocity, Orbitz, and Expedia to name a few. What's the difference between them? Which one offers the lowest rates? And, can you recommend your favorite?

Answer: I understand your frustrations. Without proper research, it's easy to get lost in the sea of travel sites and difficult to determine which ones to offer the best rates. But, don't feel overwhelmed by the number of sites, the presence of them is great for you. They are what I call the new travel agent. They make it easier to find inexpensive flights, because they represent most airlines. And you save time by searching one website instead of bouncing from airline site to airline site. Essentially, it's one-stop shopping.

The difference between them is subjective. I've talked to people who swear by Expedia and others who love Travelocity. Finding your favorite is like finding the perfect pair of jeans. You have to try on a few until you find the perfect fit. Travel sites are the same way. You have to research each one (or a few) until you find one that matches your interests. I've hear cruise lovers favor Travelocity and package shoppers (purchasing the hotel and airfare together) like Expedia. My advice? Take a few minutes to determine your travel goals, then scan a few sites until you find your favorite ones (I would suggest bookmarking your top three choices).

Which one offers the lowest rates? I would venture to say, 80% of the time, they'll have the same rates. But, there's that other 20%. And because of that, unfortunately, I can't tell you which one will save you money. It's really a hit-or-miss with these sites, because the airlines only provide the sites with a few seats at the discounted price. So, low fares could come and go before you even know it. I would search your top three just to be sure.

Travelocity and Sidestep are my favorites. I like Travelocity because you can select the "flexible date" option and find the lowest fare to your destination (this is domestic flights only) and work your schedule around a particular fare. Sidestep, as it namesake suggests, allows you to sidestep all other websites by giving you the posted rates for ALL the airlines and major travel sites.

Hope this helps!

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