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.com-parison Shopping -Top 5 Websites To Find The Best Travel Deals

(May 8, 2003)

You've seen the Geico commercial which boasts: "15 minutes could save you 15% or more on your car insurance." It's a great idea - take some time to comparison shop, and save money. Unfortunately, shopping for travel online isn't as simple as 15 minutes.

Time Is Money

Everywhere you look there are websites touting that they offer the best detailed price comparisons, destination advice, itinerary planning, and booking. Even with these tools finding the best deal can still be a challenge. If you're going to spend time shopping around for travel deals, listed below are sites that won't waste your time.

SideStep
http://www.sidestep.com

SideStep is a nifty little tool you can download for free that searches over 140 travel suppliers' inventories in real time while you are searching on other travel booking sites. It displays the results in an easy-to-understand format. What's neat about SideStep is that it takes what you type into other sites like Travelocity, Expedia and Orbitz and does the search simultaneously. The product has been recently been re-designed to be faster than ever. Changes to both the user interface and core search technology has boosted overall performance. It's important to note that SideStep is not a computer reservations system like Sabre, Worldspan, or Apollo, nor is it affiliated with them. SideStep is totally unbiased

The good:
The sidebar search mode allows for multi-tasking in searching for the best deals. Very fast unbiased scavenging of 140 plus airline, hotel and car rental sites. Also, is the only search engine offering fares from smaller carriers like Hooters Air.

The Bad:
Not available on Macintosh computers.

Hotwire
http://www.hotwire.com

If your plans are flexible, Hotwire can save you a fortune.  The site offers great deals on airfare, hotel, car rentals, cruises and vacation packages.  Also, they have special deals called Hot-Fares® and Hot-Rates® that cannot be found anywhere else. The only catch is you won't know the exact flight time, airline, hotel or car vendor until after you make your purchase. Unlike Priceline, which locks you into purchasing the ticket after your bid is accepted; Hotwire gives you two hours to decide.

The good:
Easy to use interface offering deals that consistently beat the big travel sites like Expedia, Orbitz and Travelocity.

The bad:
You don't know the vendors until purchase. No refunds, transfers, upgrades or frequent flier miles allowed.  Can look at prices without purchase; however, you can't perform the same search options for 48 hours.

Quikbook
http://www.quikbook.com

Quikbook is a site you may not be familiar with, but you shouldn't miss it when you are shopping around for hotels. Often Quikbook has space when others don't, as they have special arrangements with many of the best hotels. There's no prepayment on most hotels until you check out, nor are there fees if you have to change or cancel a reservation. Quikbook has a guaranteed lowest rate, if, within 24 hours after making a reservation, you find a lower total price for your entire stay at the same hotel in the same room type on the same days, and they'll match the rate. Also, they have a unique "Q" rating system to allow you to find hotels that meet your requirements.

The Good:
Guaranteed best rates, no pre-payment, you won't be charged until check in. Also, there are no annoying ads on the site.

The Bad:
Cities are limited. 

Smarter Living
http://www.smarterliving.com  

Don't want to waste precious time digging through weekly airline, hotel, and rental car deal emails? Simplify your life with Smarter Living's free weekly newsletter re-cap of the best deals to or from your city of choice (over 80 to choose from). In addition, you can choose from other specialized newsletters such as senior and frequent flier. If you don't want to sign up for the newsletters you can check out the latest fare sales, travel deals, and special promotions daily on their site. Lastly, members are eligible for special discounts on airfares, hotels, car rentals, and more, offering terrific savings.

The Good:
Unbiased recap of all the weekly travel specials. Can save hours of going through weekly airline, hotel, and car rental emails.

The Bad:
Annoying pop up ads.

Travelocity
http://www.travelocity.com

Travelocity is a full service travel site offering every product under the sun. It's one stop shopping that's comfortably familiar with an easy to navigate interface. Travelocity's "lowest fare" search engine, which finds the cheapest airfare in a database, is easy to use.  Plus, it will suggest lower fares at alternate airports within a reasonable driving radius.  Since acquiring Site59 last year, Travelocity now offers a vast selection of last minute deals at cut-rate prices.

The Good:
Real humans answering phones when you need help.

The Bad:
Cannot book certain cruises or vacation packages online, can only be done over the phone.


Related AnitaVacation Features:

Fare Dancing With SideStep
Three Rental Car Myths To Avoid.


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