Traveling is an investment of your time, money, and aspirations. Balancing your priorities while searching for the best opportunity can burn through hours of your time — and wads of cash, if you’re not careful. This guide explains how to use Best Company’s travel site directory to find the right companies for booking your vacation.
Not all travel sites provide the same experience. The sites listed on Best Company can be broken down into the following categories.
Booking portals (or online travel agencies): Sites such as Priceline, TripAdvisor, and Expedia aim to provide an all-inclusive experience. Customers can book a flight, hotel, rental car, or travel package in a single stop.
However, a common complaint of this type of site is that the information is often pulled from third-party sources. These sources may have additional booking and service fees that the booking portals can’t accurately record.
Flights: These services deal with airline travel to and from a destination. The best sites will allow users to compare prices by date and airport location as well as allow a user to opt into flight alerts for the destinations they bookmark.
Entertainment: Travel bookings should include more than a hotel and flight. These websites offer deals on tours, popular restaurants, and shows.
Lodging: Sites such as Airbnb and Trivago provide users with a variety of living arrangements. Some of these sites pull options from all over the web, and other sites in this category offer bookings exclusive to their business.
Other: Many travel sites are worth exploring for their unique or innovative features. SeatGuru will help you find the most comfortable airline flights while GAFFL can help you meet new adventurers. If you’re hunting for something fresh, this category might be a good choice to browse.
Best Company also has pages exclusively for travel agencies (includes the booking portals listed above in addition to phone-operated and physical agencies) and travel insurance. Travel agencies help customers plan an entire vacation from start to end; travel insurance companies insure travelers against accidents abroad.
When considering which travel website to use, user experience is a primary deciding factor. Some sites offer price comparison and flex date features to plan affordable vacations with the best options available.
Take note of the filters available on a website’s search bar. Will a search offer results based on proximity to your query, matched price, or other popular locations? Can you filter by features, hotel star rating, and number of connecting flights to reach the destination? The more filters that are available, the more likely you are to find an exact match to your query and create a vacation tailored to you.
Vacation planners also need to consider how involved their website is in the booking process. Many online travel agencies and booking sites compile information from other sources into one place so users can compare options. This is convenient, but it can occasionally be misleading. Rental car companies may have insurance and additional driver fees that users incur when checking in and picking up the car. Hotels may charge for their Wi-Fi, parking, or additional amenities. Consumers should be aware that the listed prices on booking portals don’t always accurately reflect the full price of accommodations.
Additionally, booking portals and online travel agencies might not be able to give you the rewards points and airline miles that you might get booking directly through the company itself. If you travel often, this could mean losing savings in the long run.
Some sites cater to a specific niche, such as CruisesOnly and Luxury Link. Exploring new travel sites can open options that a user might not be able to find from browsing a comprehensive site alone. Take advantage of these niche sites and their vacation deals to create an unforgettable experience.
Additionally, vacation planners should read customer reviews regarding cancellation policies, schedule adjustment, and rescheduling.
While some travel sites will include insurance along with a service or provide it as an add-on fee, particularly for flight or hotel cancellation, Best Company’s travel insurance page lists and reviews separate sites that independently focus on this feature.
Booking portals won’t always offer the best coverage as an add-on, and many customers complain insuring through a booking portal did not provide adequate reimbursement in the event of lost luggage or a canceled flight.
You can expect to visit dozens of sites before settling on an accommodation. Expedia Media Solutions estimates that an American vacation planner will visit 140 travel sites 45 days before purchasing.
If searching for your own deals and managing each of your bookings sounds too overwhelming, you could also consider corresponding with a travel agent.
Due to countless online sites dedicated to travel deals, a travel agency is not necessary for a well-planned travel experience. However, travel agency use has surged for explorers seeking experience-oriented vacations and individuals who want to take the stress out of planning their own excursion. Agencies are known for tailoring an agenda to an individual or group to create a personalized experience. Best Company ranks these travel agencies in a separate category.
Our list of best travel sites ranks websites based on an internal BestRank algorithm and real customer reviews. Read through company profiles and travel site reviews to find a company that will help you plan your trip.