Earlier this year, eMarketer did an interesting study showing that niche travel sites online are making a big dent in the market for more traditional travel services. There are so many niche sites, though, that it can be hard to keep track of which ones can really save you money, time and hassle. In this post, I’ll round up some guaranteed winners, starting with the really useful TripIt.com.
TripIt can be a big organizational help if you travel a lot, especially if you don’t have access to any kind of assistant who can help you. The beta service organizes all of the aspects of your trip—airline reservations, car rental info, hotel details, etc.—into one master itinerary. This saves you from having to aggregate everything in one document, or worse, carting around a bunch of pieces of paper with your plans. You just e-mail email@example.com with your details, then it creates a master itinerary, and you can access and print it from anywhere you can get online.
Some travelers relish the thought of negotiating best prices and tracking travel options while others are more inclined to simply avoid hassle, even if they pay a bit more. If you like to get the lowest prices, and are willing to do a bit of extra legwork, try Kayak and Farecast.com. Kayak was founded by some veterans of the online travel industry who reasoned that by avoiding specialized deals with travel agencies, they could help travelers get the best prices. Kayak scours hundreds of travel sites for deals. Farecast.com does very useful graphs of how airline tickets have risen and fallen in price over a certain amount of time, so you can buy low, as seen below.
For optimizing your airport parking, and quick access to limos and other services, try AboutAirportParking.com.
Do you travel internationally a lot? If so, many travelers cite Mobissimo as having the best deals. The site has a much larger database of international flights than most do.
I’m always surprised by how many people will spend time trying to save on airline tickets, but then pay top dollar for hotel reservations. You can get really good hotel deals at Priceline.com and you even get a greeting from Captain Kirk on the home page. It’s especially good for getting discounts at luxury hotels, and you can bid for the best prices.
For a dozen more tips on convenient online travel solutions, including the super useful sites SeatGuru.com and FlightAware.com, see my previous post and the reader comments there.
Do you have any good tips on online travel sites and services?