Have you been furiously booking a vacation online and found yourself wondering how you ever managed to do the same task before the web? But while the internet makes travel booking easy, there’s an added burden of a glut of information. How do you decide which sites are worth using and where to find the best deals?
Peter Greenberg, NBC travel editor, has a few sites he keeps bookmarked whenever vacation time comes calling, and not just for booking a flight.
Zonder.com: Use this if you want something better than just a hotel on your next trip. It lists thousands of vacation rentals, from apartments to villas, and only shows properties that have managers on the ground – just in case something goes wrong.
Yapta.com: This site goes beyond tracking airfares. You plug in a route and it will monitor and alert you if the fare drops substantially. Even if the fare drops after you already bought more expensive tickets, it helps you get the credit on the difference. Now you can also get alerts when your frequent-flier miles can be used on specific flights.
TripIt.com: A great tool for organizing your travel itineraries all in one place. Just forward your confirmation emails and the site does all the work for you in one document.
BedAndBreakfast.com: A comprehensive listing of thousands of bed and breaksfasts worldwide. You can search by location or your specific criteria. It also has exclusive deals on b&b stays.
LuxuryLink.com: Features 2700 high-end hotels, villas and cruises and offers live travel auctions. A good way to get a first-class vacation for a little cheaper than it would normally cost.
AirfareWatchdog.com: Real people scour the web looking for real deals. It updates 2000 to 4000 flights a day and you can often find deals not listed elsewhere, including online pricing errors that can work in your favor.
OneTime.com: A great tool for comparison shopping, as it lets you see what several travel sites are offering at the same time, including the big aggregators like Priceline, Expedia and Orbitz.
The web is a great tool for travel research, Greenberg says, and it’s often the best way to find the best deal. But don’t underestimate the value of talking to a real person, whether it’s the front desk clerk at a hotel or an airline representative. The power of negotiation with these people can be what trumps any deal you find online. His tip: scour the web with these sites, find the best deals, then call the airlines/hotes/cruise lines and try to get a better bargain. You always have 24 hours to go back to the web and see if you can beat whatever deal you’re offered.