Online Travel Sites Review

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Why Online Travel Sites?

More and more, online travel sites are taking the place of traditional travel agencies. With these web services, you can search for airline tickets, hotels, cruises and package deals to anywhere in the world. This is a much more direct and convenient way to book multiple reservations than working through a travel agent or contacting airlines, hotels and rental agencies independently.

Websites like Orbitz, CheapTickets and Travelocity work with airlines and hotels to get the lowest prices down to the last minute. Some sites act as a search engine for travel while others list their own prices with booking fees and taxes included. Many sites give you an option to compare prices with larger sites, so you can catch the best deals no matter where you start your search. For more information, check out our articles about online travel sites.

Online Travel Sites: What to Look For

The best online travel sites have a variety of travel plans, options and packages. You'll want to look for sites that offer basic reservations for flights, cruises, hotels and rental cars. Some sites also offer offbeat vacations like safaris. The best online travel sites are easy to use and offer plenty of customization, so you can book exactly what you want for the time and place you want to visit. We researched and ranked online travel sites based on the following categories:

Booking & Search Options
Most of the online travel sites we reviewed provide booking for flights, hotels, rental cars and cruises almost anywhere in the world, but some of these sites also provide extras like travel bundles and deals finders. Before booking, look out for small print that may indicate if a ticket or reservation is refundable or comes with a cancellation fee. Most online travel sites will indicate when a hotel allows free cancellation in case your plans fall through. When you select a travel bundle, you can pay for multiple tickets at once for a discounted price, so you can book your flight to Las Vegas and hotel on the strip in the same click.

But all these booking options won't be useful if you can't find what you're looking for in the sea of options. The best travel websites will limit the number of searches you have to conduct by providing plenty of details on their homepage about how to search the site. Sites that let you customize your results based on factors like flight class, hotel star rating or a rental car's transmission type let you eliminate all the options that don't work for you, making it easier to find exactly what you need.

Ease of Use
Let's be honest, sometimes booking travel can be a real headache. Without a travel agent, issues may come up that you'll need to deal with. To avoid a throbbing temple, look for online travel sites with features that minimize the potential for headaches and issues. For example, most sites will send you email confirmation after booking, so you know the job is complete. Other helpful features like predictive popups, calendar-style date selection and flexible dates make booking easier whether you're flying, cruising, driving or sleeping.

However, be aware that most travel websites charge hefty fees for cancellation or changes in itineraries. You'll want to make sure your plans are solid before booking. At the very least, be familiar with the terms of agreement before booking so you know if your plans are refundable or not.

Additional Features
Several of the sites we reviewed offer loyalty programs like frequent flyer miles and rewards programs. These kinds of features from online travel sites can save you money and add extra perks to your travel plans.

If you're planning on a long international trip, look for services that provide some kind of travel insurance to keep you, your family and possessions safe, especially if you're traveling internationally. When you purchase a policy through an online travel site, you'll only be covered for the duration of your trip. Common coverage includes items ranging from emergencies like medical expenses and transport to travel-related headaches like baggage loss. Rental car companies offer similar insurance for their vehicles that cover damage or theft up to $40,000 for just a little more money tacked onto the rental price.

Some online travel sites have mobile applications that can assist you with booking, checking reservation statuses and catching last-minute travel deals to your dream destinations. While the mobile platforms vary from website to website, most of the travel services we reviewed provide an app for iOS.

Help & Support
Good support is crucial to the best online travel sites. Not only does a site need multiple methods of contact, like phone, live chat or email, you'll also want to keep an eye out for FAQs sections. These pages provide the answers to the online travel site's most common queries. This is a good source to find basics about topics like cancellation, plan changes and refunds.

In the end, online travel sites make it easy to book multiple reservations like flights, hotels and rental cars in one fell swoop. Websites like these are especially good if you're a deal hunter or frequent flyer. Using a mobile app, you can catch last minute deals and check the status of your travel plans from the palm of your hand so you have more time to enjoy the dream vacation you've been planning.

 
 
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Rank #1#2#3#4#5#6#7#8#9#10
10-9  Excellent
8-6    Good
5-4    Average
3-2    Poor
1-0    Bad
Orbitz CheapTickets Travelocity Priceline CheapOair Last Minute Travel OneTravel AirGorilla Expedia Kayak
Orbitz CheapTickets Travelocity Priceline CheapOair Last Minute Travel OneTravel AirGorilla Expedia Kayak
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Airfare Service Fee
Visit Orbitz
Visit CheapTickets
Visit Travelocity
Visit Priceline
Visit CheapOair
Visit Last Minute Travel
Visit OneTravel
Visit AirGorilla
Visit Expedia
Visit Kayak
Ratings
9.50
9.20
8.90
8.88
8.82
8.77
8.63
8.58
8.50
7.95
10
9
8
7
6
5
4
3
2
1
10.00
10.00
10.00
5.00
10.00
10.00
8.75
5.00
8.13
9.38
10.00
7.50
8.13
9.38
9.38
8.75
8.13
8.75
9.38
10.00
8.75
8.75
9.38
7.50
8.13
10.00
8.13
7.50
10.00
8.13
7.50
7.50
7.50
8.75
10.00
7.50
7.50
8.75
8.75
5.00
 
Booking Options
Travel Bundles
Airfare
Hotel
Car Rental
Cruise
 
Deals Finder
Flight Search Options
Searched Average $727.92 $715.63 $805.84 $701.95 $667.92 $762.11 $666.05 $736.29 $796.22 $675
Multiple Destinations
Layover and Transfer Details
Flight Time Preference
Non-Stop Flights
Preferred Airline
Preferred Class
Hotel Search Options
Near Address
Point of Interest
Guest Ratings or Reviews
Sort by Price
Sort by Distance
Sort by Amenities
Sort by Star Rating
Sort by Hotel Chain
  
 
  
Ease of Use
Email Confirmation
Comparative Rates
Predictive Destination Pop-Ups
Calendar Style Date Selection
Book Specific Dates
Search Flexible Dates
 
 
 
Travel Reminders
   
  
Additional Features
Travel Insurance
Mobile App
 
Check Flight Status
 
Manage Itinerary
 
Earn Frequent Flyer Miles
 
  
 
Rewards Program
 
 
 
 
Travel News or Blog
 
 
Help & Support
FAQs
 
Telephone Support
Email Support   
  
Live Chat  
 
   
* These averages were calculated differently because either the sites didn't offer comparable flights or the site format didn't allow for direct comparison of flight pricing