My top 5 travel research and booking sites to make your vacation affordable and awesome!
Overwhelmed with the process of researching and booking a trip??
Yea, welcome to the club.
There is a method to the traveling madness. Everyone has a system and typical routine that they use when they are researching and booking a trip. Some people prefer to use a travel agency, some prefer to just go straight for the cruise line, some prefer an all inclusive resort that takes the hassle out of working out the logistics, etc.
Travelling doesn’t have to be royally expensive or a stressful booking experience.
I try to leave and return on “off days”, which can drastically reduce airfare and hotel rates; leaving on a saturday am or early on a friday/late on a thursday versus Friday evening can save you extra money.
I am signed up with Delta Skymiles Loyalty program which allows me to earn skymiles points across all their partner airlines which can be used for flights, upgrades, and even airport lounge perks. I try to always stick to one airline brand, and after years of traveling you really feel the benefits.
I am a Platinum Medallion Member on Delta and get complimentary upgrades to first class on 85% of my domestic flights! If you travel a lot, those perks can make your flight much more comfortable.
For me it’s all about deals, experience, dependability and reviews!
In this blog post, I will break down my top 5 resources for researching and booking a vacation.
Trip Advisor + Viator Ahhh the Power of the review! This has become a mainstay in the world of vacation marketing and advertising. When was the last time that you booked something without consulting word of mouth or someone’s personal opinion? Exactly. We don’t.
I mean, at the end of the day, there is no perfect resort or perfect brand out there, so of course when I’m skimming reviews I take the criticism with a grain of salt. I think that reviews are helpful because we feel that people are trustworthy, and our experiences matter. I don’t even choose a restaurant or hotel without reading the reviews first. So, on that note, TripAdvisor is my first and foremost go to site for research and booking.
Trip advisor breaks down every trip by the categories that we look for most: places to stay, places to eat, things to do, experiences to book, etc. You can rank each search based on what matters to you most: price, distance from a city, traveler ranking, or luxury star rating.
They also have an app/site that you can book experienes and excursions on Viator.com
One of my favorite things is that on Trip Advisor, you can make your own profile which has all the places you’ve stayed with your reviews. Additionally, you can also stroll through every forum which has helpful information from each traveler that contain tips, advice, need to know info, and more.
Plainly put, I do not eat somewhere without consulting YELP first (where applicable). Actually, it sort of makes me wonder what the issue is when I see a place that’s not on YELP. Granted, I have used YELP for more than just restaurants; plumbers, services, event photographers, etc, it really is my favorite food research app.
You can also make collections which stoore your favorites in a folder based on which city it’s in.
Air BnB - If you haven’t tried booking an airbnb yet you are seriously missing out! I love how this system puts money into the pockets of people and families versus a massive global conglomerate hotel chain. Now, don’t get me wrong, I love me some SPG hotels and there are times that hotel and resorts are totally called for, however, I have stayed at AirBNB’s all over and with each one the experience gets better. It’s a chance to enjoy the cute decor of a home other than yours, feel a little more ‘local’, and even connect with the owner and get some great recommendations for places to eat and things to do. Moreso, the AirBNB really pushes you to get out and experience all that your vacation city has to offer, and by that I mean, you won’t be tempted to eat at the hotel restaurant or stay in the lounge. Often times when you travel in groups, an AirBNB offers a much more cost effective option than booking a bunch of hotel rooms. For instance, we booked a 4 bedroom AirBNB in Cape Town South Africa, and it ended up being around $110/night per person and we had sooooo much room and our own private penthouse with a roofdeck and pool! That equivalent in a hotel would have been about $500/night per person.
Booking.com - I use this for flights, hotels, and cars (pretty much everything you can use it for). What I like about this site is that they don’t normally require a deposit and you can collect points for future discounts! I once needed a last minute hotel during a layover and booked it through booking.com and got 10% off the booking AND a free breakfast included! They have options for everywhere and everyone on this site, and their app is VERY user friendly.
Bloggers - This can be overwhelming because there are 1000 bloggers out there, but again, I feel like a blogger writing about his/her experience will give a more unbiased opinion than “travelboston.com or tourismboston.com”. There are international and national bloggers, and bloggers who specialize in weekend getaways, etc. A few travel bloggers I enjoy to follow are:
Between Booking.com, Airbnb, Trip Advisor, Yelp, and other bloggers I always feel super confident in what to expect! Yes, I’m the kind of girl who wants to look at the menu before I go eat, and wants to know EXACTLY how long that hike is going to take me, and what sort of clothing to bring .
Lastly- Always look out for holiday sales! I recently went to South Africa and got 40% off my stay at a Luxury Game Reserve because I booked on a black friday sale! Most resorts and airlines and travel brands have sales around holiday season and offer discounts that would make a trip much more affordable.
Using tried and true booking outlets takes any of the guesswork out of travelling and allows for more time to relax, eat, work and explore!
Happy travelling !!