In a recent post, I rounded up several useful sites for eliminating hassles during business trips. Especially if you’re a frequent road warrior, though, you may find that much of the hassle surrounding travel comes during the planning stage. To make things much easier when planning trips, and save money, Kayak.com and Farecast.com offer some of the most unusual and useful analysis tools found online.
Kayak.com is a travel search engine that works like an aggregator—scouring hundreds of travel sites for the best hotel deals, optimized takeoff and return times, and more. The site’s secret sauce is that it doesn’t require you to keep entering search results to optimize your trip schedule. Instead, it lets you make use of slider bars and other graphical tools to narrow down your optimized travel choices.
As an example, in the screenshot below Kayak is searching many airline schedules for times close to the ones I specified for a trip from San Francisco to Las Vegas. It reports what airlines it is investigating in real-time, and then delivers a long list of options available.
But what if I don’t like any of the options on the list? To the left of the list of available flights, Kayak presents me with a slider bar for adjusting my Leave time, and a separate slider bar for adjusting my Return time (see the screenshot below). I simply drag the sliders around and my list of options will auto-adjust as I do so.
Kayak.com was started by founders of Orbitz, Expedia and Travelocity and it is not an online store, where you will tend to be steered toward travel options that benefit the seller. Once you’ve decided on your hotel choice, your flight choices, and more, the site gives you the option of buying through online travel agencies, consolidators such as Orbitz, or many other providers. I’ve found it to consistently save travel money, and the graphical interface for narrowing down travel options couldn’t be more easy and efficient.
Finally, I am constantly amazed, especially when people are going to buy multiple airline tickets, at how they don’t keep their eyes on recent highs and lows in the prices. The market for airline tickets is akin to the securities markets in the sense that one day’s price for a given ticket may be much higher or lower than another day’s price. For this reason, whenever I research flights online, I go to Farecast.com to look at useful muti-day charts like this one:
As you can see, for any ticket you research at the site, Farecast.com produces a chart with more than two months of price history for that ticket. Pricing averages are also reported. This is a great place to stop when researching your travel, especially if your travel dates are flexible.
Do you have any good tips for business road warriors?