These are links to some helpful websites that I use when planning a trip:
www.kayak.com – This site is a great place to start when planning out airfare or airline options to a destination, it will also help you get the best price on the best day. You can even set up price alerts for a destination with a date range and they will email you when there is a change in fare. This site allows you to view all airline options in one place without toggling between different airlines, and you can still book directly with the airline!
www.tripadvisor.com – This site is extensive and can get overwhelming, but it is a good place to start for ideas of things to do in a location, or to see what types of hotel options are available. The mobile app is very user friendly and helpful for local restaurant recommendations. The caution here is 5 star for some is 3 star hotel for others and for some a greasy spoon is great food, for others not so much. Again, use with caution and do research beyond.
www.hotwire.com – If you need a quick hotel at a great price and already know the area where you are traveling this can be a great option. You won’t get loyalty points, upgrades, or the best view either, you will get a nice hotel in the area you want for a great price. You can pick general location of your hotel (again helpful only if already know the area you are travelling to) and the hotel level (I normally pick 3 star and up) and your results will also show you how many others “recommend” the hotel, (I typically pick 85% and above approval rating). This is especially helpful in large cities, I have used Hotwire in NYC multiple times and gotten rates in Times Square area for $150 per night in some very nice hotels.
www.icruise.com – This is a great site for initial cruise research, you can search all cruise lines and options sailing for specific ports, destinations, or dates. In addition I find the ability to research the ships, deck plans, and cabins better on this site than the actual cruise line sites directly. You can always book directly with icruise, your personal vacation planner, or the cruise line as well, but this is still a great tool for initial research.
www.skiplagged.com – This is another great site if you are looking for the most economical option for airfare, many of these fares are “hidden city” meaning if you want to fly New York to Atlanta, you might actually save 40-70% if you book one way New York to Phoenix with a layover in Atlanta. You can’t check a bag typically, but if fare price is most important this is a great site to try.
www.hopper.com – This is an app that you download to your phone. You can enter a date range and location for airfare and Hopper sends you an alert when it finds a great airfare. I love this app for planning vacations with the kids, maybe not a set destination, but I know my dates. I enter dates and then 3-4 locations that we would like to visit. I purchased round trip tickets from Atlanta to Amsterdam on United for $451 each and I found round trip tickets Atlanta to Orlando on Delta for $143 each.