Our desire to venture and explore the beauty of far-away places is now just a few clicks away from being reality. The evolution of the internet has added an excellent resource for those wishing to plan a trip. By utilizing the internet to plan your trip, you will save money, time, and stress. You will be able to compare various offers, bundle specific items into trip packages, set up itineraries, purchase event tickets, print maps and show schedules, and obtain online reviews of specific hotels, airlines, restaurants, etc.
If you were to do a simple search for travel online, you would be inundated with millions of suggested websites. You will want to browse a few of these websites and compare their specific prices and offerings. This article will detail some of the websites available to you. Most of these websites offer many of the same services, and some are even laid out very similarly. The websites that you find most useful will primarily be based on your own personal preferences.
First, when deciding on a destination, there are several resources available online that offer various types of necessary information when traveling abroad. Obtaining as much information about foreign destinations is of utmost importance. Many countries have laws and regulations that you may not be familiar with, and it is important to learn these things before you arrive in the country. In today’s hostile environment of war and terrorism, some places are risky or even forbidden to travel to. Travel warnings, and other national data such as passport requirements, photography restrictions, currency exchange, customs regulations, and other general tourist information can be found at the U.S. Department of State website.
Travel and Leisure, Yahoo Travel, Travelocity, TripAdvisor, and Travel, are online resources that give rankings, ratings and reviews of specific destinations, airports, hotels, and restaurants. These sites offer various city guides, cruise guides, and spa guides. Many offer newsletters that contain various deals, sent to your e-mail, and daily or weekly online deals that you can click on. Other popular travel websites that are currently on the internet are Expedia, Orbitz, Hotwire, Bookit, and Priceline. Some of these sites offer additional services such as personalized travel guides, trip planners or itineraries, trip journals, area attractions, area maps, and photos of various attractions. These sites search several commercial sites and return the cheapest rates in a list for you to compare and review, based on specific criteria that you enter. You will find that almost all of these sites reference, or are affiliated with at least one of the commercial provider sites. This can sometimes be confusing, just be sure to always take notice of the details on the specific deals being offered through each. For example, Expedia may be able to offer cheaper airfare through Pacific Airlines, while Priceline has the same trip offered through Northwestern at a lower rate, but includes an eight hour layover.
Some commercial sites offer one-stop shopping features that will undoubtedly reduce the stress involved in planning your trip. These sites may or may not be a better value based what is included in the packages offered. Scrutiny will be valuable when making a final decision on which site offers you what you want for the best price. Many of the commercial sites are able to give deeper discounts on some services than others. Be sure to shop around in order to get the best price overall. Some commercial websites worth visiting are specific hotel sites such as Hampton Inn and Suites, Comfort Inn, Best Western, Hilton, EconoLodge, Wingate Inns, CountryInns, and ChoiceHotels. Airline sites to consider browsing are United Airlines, US Airways, Continental Airlines, Northwest Airlines, Delta Airlines, and Southwest Airlines. If you are considering a cruise for your travel, a few companies you will want to review are Royal Caribbean, Princess Cruises, Carnival Cruise Lines, Norwegian Cruises, and Celebrity Cruises.
Major attractions and destination areas also offer deep discounts on packages and services, Disney World, Disney Land, Las Vegas, and Orlando are examples of such destinations that employ their own specific websites to offer discounts and booking. These specific attractions and destinations are also available through the travel websites listed above, but may be available at higher rates.
While browsing any of these sites, one consideration to keep in mind are travel memberships. Some credit card companies and auto insurance companies offer discounts for using specific providers, so you will want to review the offers and guidelines of any applicable memberships you may already have. For example; AAA offers deals to members who chose to book with an almost endless choice of hotels, rental car companies, and airlines. Some companies offer special pricing if you purchase through their website. Visa and MasterCard have incentive programs that offer cash back, purchase discounts, and money saving coupons. Be aware of any incentives or discounts that you may be eligible for while shopping around on the internet.
In addition to the information included on the websites already mentioned here, you may wish to discover more attractions, history, or things to do at or near your intended destination. Sites such as CitySearch, AOL City Guide, MSN City Guides, and USA Today City Guide offer interactive maps, detailed information and recommendations on restaurants, nightclubs, shopping, spas, recreation, events, religious activities, museums, and history of your destination city and surrounding areas.
Obtaining information is key when planning the perfect trip, and achieving all of the activities you wish to partake in. By sitting at your desk, and browsing a few websites, you will be able to shop around for the best price, make reservations online, purchase tickets, view activities or events that you were not previously aware of, and take a virtual tour of hotels, and attractions. You will be able to make an educated decision on exactly what you would like to include on you trip.
The primary benefits are obvious. Utilizing online booking and purchasing will definitely save you time, stress, and money. But what are the other benefits? Safety, and peace of mind? You have already paid for most of the things that you have decided to include in your travel, so the need to carry and pull out the extra cash is eliminated. You have armed yourself with maps and guides, so you will not be roaming around a strange city looking for your intended destination, thus increasing your safety by not looking lost. You have made yourself aware of foreign customs, laws and regulations, so you will be less vulnerable to breaking foreign laws you were unaware of. You have reviewed the city guides, and are now aware of high crime areas to stay away from. For those of you who enjoy a clear cut itinerary, you also have this tucked away in the suitcase before you leave your home, complete with times, locations, and other details. Your rental car is ready for you when you arrive at your destination, so you have reduced the need to wait in line, only to be told there are no more rentals available.
As with any major purchase or endeavor, taking the time and effort to research, shop-around, and plan is a critical part of achieving the most desirable results. Long gone are the days in which the buyer has no choice but to purchase blindly, hoping for the best. The internet has opened the doors of knowledge and research to all who choose to step in. Caveat emptor my friends.