Giorgio Montersino on Flickr
I know what you are thinking. Christmas already!?! We haven’t even finished our Halloween candy!
Sure it may be a bit early to begin seriously thinking about Christmas. But if you are planning to travel for the holidays, the earlier you begin planning, the better deals you may find. The good news is that you can do most, if not all of your vacation planning and booking online. Here are some tools to help you out:
Kayak.com is a relative new comer to the web. But it is has quickly become one of the best sites for finding cheap airfares. It is especially great if you are flexible on either dates and location. You can search for dates up to three days before and after your ideal travel dates, or even search for flights that leave within a calendar month, on upcoming weekends, as well as anytime. If you’re flexible on destination you can scan a world map for all the destinations you can reach within a specified price range.
TripAdvisor is our go-to site for finding great hotels and deals. Sure, like with all crowd sourced review sites, you need to be wary of fake reviews from cronies or competitors. But by reading between the lines, you can find a wealth of insights from real customers that go beyond the brochure blurbs and tell you what it’s really like to stay at a given hotel. While TripAdvisor doesn’t actually sell rooms, it directly links you to partner sites, such as Expedia, Travelocity and Hotels.com helping you find the best deals for the nights you will be travelling.
While they may be better know for hotel and airfare deals, Hotwire.com often offers the best deals on cars. They do this by comparing rates from their rental car company partners, which include Budget, Enterprise and Europcar. However, the best deals are usually found through the site’s “hot deals” service. While you won’t know the company that you’ve booked from until you have paid, unlike with hotels the risk is minimal for most people. All their partners are reputable companies and a Ford Focus is the same no matter who provides it.
If package deals are more your style, check out DealBase.com. Their “Deal Analyzer” will let you know if promotional offers from, for example, hotels that provide continental breakfasts or other add-ons, are a good values by telling you how much you’d really save. Like TripAdvisor, once you find a deal you like, DealBase will send you to the site where you can purchase it directly from the provider.
For more great online travel resources, check out Kiplinger.com.