Researching a holiday online can be both an exciting and a rather enjoyable part of the journey. It’s almost like taking a virtual trip around the world without leaving your home. Furthermore, the internet gives us greater power in planning our holiday destinations than ever before. With the tap of an iPad we are sourcing information online in an instant. People are researching where to go, how to get there, what to do when we get there, where to eat and play and most importantly looking for that affirmation of others who have been before and what their thoughts are. This research is done to make the best possible decision to suit the experience sort, time and budget.
There is a minefield of information out there online and we can easily spend hours of our time trying to decipher which sites offer good information, which don’t and most of all which are trustworthy sources. These websites are all competing for a slice of the lucrative travel market, so to make your research a little easier here are my top 5 travel websites that help you save time and money. I consider these websites excellent resources and are my ‘go to’ when I’m researching my next holiday destination.
Tripadvisor is my number one pick when I need to look at reviews on every type of accommodation on offer around the world. With a staggering 150 million reviews on 3.7 million unique properties this makes Tripadvisor the world’s largest travel site. Hotels, restaurants and tourist attractions are all rated and reviewed by members of the site’s travel community.
- Independent non-biased Hotel and restaurant reviews from real travellers
- Candid photos of hotels and restaurants by travellers
- Forums where members can ask questions, share opinions and seek advice.
Why I like it
It’s a great guide when looking at a particular hotel to find out what others thought of it. Members can review their experiences with a particular hotel, detail its pros and cons, and give it a rating. Tripadvisor also features candid photos of hotels or restaurants that members have uploaded, which are helpful in seeing how the establishment actually looks compared to professional photos posted on the web. Of course, reviews are purely subjective and each person’s experience is different depending on what their expectations are. I also like the forum section of this site as it is full of wonderful advice on anything to do with travel from previous travellers or destination experts. In the forum you are able to post a question or you may find your question already answered when searching the forum.
Established in 1996, Booking.com is a booking agency that offers every type of accommodation and lists over 470,000 properties worldwide. From small, family-run bed and breakfasts to executive apartments and five-star luxury suites.
- Hotel booking site
- Different payment options: discounted up front or free cancellation
- Extra 20% discount on some accommodations for members who reach booking Genius Level.
What I like about it
I love this website! I find navigating this site extremely easy, it has lots of good pictures of hotel rooms and detailed room facilities. You can get some very good discounts on hotels via this site and they also promise a best price guarantee. They offer different options in booking your accommodation such as the heavily discounted pay up front price where you can save up to 50% on accommodation costs. A good choice as long as you are sure you will not change your mind, as there will be no refund. The other option which is still at a competitive price is the free cancellation offer, which gives you the opportunity to cancel your booking at any time up to 48 hours prior to your stay. So there is no upfront deposits and you pay when you stay. I find this site very competitive with other sites and they always include room tax, resort fees and other charges in the price, so no hidden extra costs when you arrive. The free cancellation they offer is a big plus to this site especially when you find yourself in circumstances beyond your control. If you miss a flight or you simply change your travel plans, you can easily cancel without penalties.
SeatGuru and its 10 million site visitors comes under the arm of Tripadvisor and offers aircraft seat maps and reviews in each class of travel. SeatGuru relies on the community for the low down on seat width, pitch, and comfort and lists over 180 airlines, along with comments and photos. Simply type in your airline and flight number and Seat Guru will find your aircraft complete with seat maps. Alternatively you can browse the airline of choice and look at seat maps of all their planes.
- Easy to view seat maps
- Reviews on seat width, pitch and comfort
- Reviews on economy, business and first class flights
- A list of Aircraft amenities
What I like about it
When you hover over a seat on the interactive seat map, it shows you the pros and cons to that seat, where facilities are located, and whether you are next to a window or in an exit row. The map of the plane also gives you an idea of the size of the aircraft and seat configurations. If you are in a position to be able to choose where you would like to sit then this information is very useful when planning. The independent reviews are also helpful, with tips and reviews of various flight aspects you may not have thought of.
The Man in Seat Sixty-One
The Man in Seat Sixty-One is the champion of train travel! What started out as a hobby for this fellow is now a go to destination for everything you want to know about train travel worldwide. It offers step by step guides to getting from one destination to another. With information on timetables, train types, fares and where to catch trains from. The Man in Seat Sixty-One also offers information and guides on ferry services throughout Europe. The site is updated regularly.
- Step by Step guides on train and Ferry destinations
- Train and Ferry timetables
- Train types and speeds
- Up to date ticket pricing
What I like about it
I discovered this website when I was researching train travel in Europe a few years ago. It is a great resource on everything you need to know on how to travel around Europe or worldwide by train. The website offers information on train types (for example high speed), distance between destinations, timetables and fares, all of which will help you plan your travel. Using this site as a resource can help you decide whether the cities you wish to visit are achievable by train, without taking up too much time from the schedule.
Skyscanner is a leading global travel search site, providing instant online comparisons for millions of flights on over a thousand airlines, as well as car hire and hotels. The website has been around for about 10 years and has 25 million visitors each month.
- Live flight comparison prices between airlines
- Flight information such as flight duration and transit times in airports
- Direct links to Airlines or travel agents to book your flight.
What I like about it
A great website for finding the cheapest flight anywhere in the world. I always check out Skyscanner first to see what airline can give me the best value for money deal. Armed with this information you can either book through the airline direct or for a better deal, go to your travel agent and show them the price of the air ticket and negotiate a further discount. The site is easy to navigate and you are able to set up alerts for a particular destination where you will be notified by email when there are price rises or drops.
Pinterest uses visual bookmarks (pins) for great things you find on the internet or on Pinterest itself. Pinterest was launched in 2010 and is a tool for discovering things you love, and doing those things in real life. Pinterest helps millions of people pick up new hobbies, find their style and plan life’s important projects.
- Pin anything you want to save from the web
- Searchable pins by keywords
- Organise pin boards by theme or topic
- Follow other member boards
What I like about it
If you haven’t discovered Pinterest then you need to get on board! This website is fabulous especially when planning a trip. You can make boards for places you would like to visit, hotels you would like to stay at and restaurants you would like to eat at. The list is endless, you can tailor the boards to what inspires you. It’s like your own personal bookmark page for grabbing items on the web in a visual format. It’s the new version of writing lists but with pictures that you can access anywhere anytime you are online.
Of course I always follow my favourite bloggers for great tips and a variety of ideas on travel, it’s like getting travel advice from a good friend!
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