Wednesday, March 16, 2011

A Review of Kiplinger's 24 Best Travel Sites

I'm not going to list all of Kiplinger's 24 but I will say that's it's a good list for those of us who, on occasion, buy a airplane ticket, rent a car, or stay in a hotel -- and there were a few sites I hadn't heard of before. If you'd rather jump to the Kiplinger piece, see their link at the bottom of post.

My comments on their list:

1. Air travel: Kayak is the consolidator's consolidator. It not only searches Sabre lists it searches the travel sites like Orbitz and Expedia. I have never used them but it looked easy to use and comprehensive. Personally, I go to the American Airlines site first then to the consolidator sites.

2. Bing. I like the Bing site for airline ticket comparisons. Their "price predictor" may or may not be accurate but it is pretty cool. Actually, I like the Bing site for several searches.

3. For lodging, Kiplinger lists Hotels.com as their number one site because of ease of use and bargain offers. Next for them is Priceline which I have used, but I have also been put in the room next to the generators more than once when I did. I most often use Tripadvisor. It is the most visited site so it has the most reviews. Reading reviews is always risky because some people complain about everything and some reviews are obviously written by the proprietor's brother-in-law, but you can get an overall impression.

General observation on hotels/motels -- newer is almost always better.

4. Vacation Rental by Owner, not on their list, but my sister uses them for larger family trips and has had great accommodations for a reasonable price. Kiplinger suggests trying HomeAway.com

5. Also, not on the list but an idea that I love is the couch or room for a night concept. There's a bunch of these now, one of them is Air Bed and Breakfast which allows you to "rent nightly from real people in 9,440 cities in 173 countries."

6. Car Rentals. Kiplinger suggests Hotwire, but all of the travel sites pull from the major rental companies and I haven't seen any difference in prices between them. I find Enterprise to be the most service-minded and reasonably priced.

As I have said many times on this blog, air travel today is more pain than pleasure but airlines are giving us what we want -- low fares. Some airlines are better than others, but when the big airlines test more room and more service against low price, low price wins. And the airlines can't help it if we are all treated like a potential terrorist threat. That being said, today, I drive if I can, I dislike air travel that much.

I liked the list of 24 sites. Please comment. I'm curious what you do for travel reservations.

Kiplinger's 24 Best Travel sites. Link Here

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6 comments:

jdw_home said...

I used to use Hotels.com until I had a problem with a hotel near Austin and they wouldn't intervene to help. It was in July, the hotel's A/C in common areas (not the rooms themselves) was not working yet nobody was called in for repair, for as the onsite maintenance man said 'the owners won't spend the money'. It was well over a 100 in the hotel lobby, halls, and elevators. We stayed that night because it was late, but left the next morning by 8am(a day early). I was charged for 2 days. The Hotel and Hotels.com wouldn't compensate since I had signed the 'agreement' for 2 days....despite the unexpected poor conditions of the hotel. Hotels.com said 'it was policy'....last time for me.

Francis Shivone said...

JDW -- Ouch, and one reason why I try to buy directly from the airline or hotel sites. I had a similar problem, not as bad, with Travelocity, but they did reimburse the money.

Jake Good said...

That stinks re: the hotel in Austin... if I do use hotels.com, I usually call the hotel a day or so later to confirm anyway.

AirBNB is fantastic, started as a service to rent air mattresses out in people's apartments in NYC.

The new kid on the block, hipmonk.com , is a fantastic interface for searching for flights...multiple "tabs", sliders, sorting by "agony" and "price", etc. Really innovative way to search for flights.

Francis Shivone said...

Thanks Jake. I looked at the site. I love how the new sites make entry easy, keep the opening page simple and don't bog you down with over-stimulation and ads.

The next page, after I entered my parameters was very easy to understand as well.

Have you noticed the sort by "Agony"? Great idea.

Sunni R. said...

I like Trip Advisor a lot for narrowing down hotel options and researching restaurants before we travel. It's how I chose the hotel where we are staying in Boston this weekend, so fingers crossed this won't be the first time they steer me wrong. As far as booking flights, we always book directly on AA.com using our AAdvantage numbers.

Francis Shivone said...

Thanks Sunni, enjoy Boston. Because AA is such a big part of DFW I go there first as well.