It seems like a lot of the internet is devoted to travel, with blogs, review sites and people selling everything travel related. It can hard to know what offers real value, but there are a range of sites that are consistently good, offering good deals to travellers.
Not all airlines allow their flights to be listed on aggregator websites, so if you want to check out Southwest, Delta or JetBlue then you need to choose the right aggregator or go to them direct.
Also, flight aggregators aren’t always that amazing. For instance, they’ll typically show you the lowest airfare available, when it’s possible that other airfares offer more value. The cheap flights often are carry-on only, so by the time you pay your $100 for a piece of checked-in luggage, it’s no longer such a great deal. You might have been able to upgrade to business class and get your luggage free for that flight—and you’ve just missed out.
Expedia, Travelocity and Orbitz are all owned by the same place and as a result, you get the same results for all three. They include baggage fees, you can set up fare alerts, and gives you prices for alternative dates, but the pricing isn’t that amazing.
SeatGuru is amazing in its knowledge of plane configurations, so you can choose a seat knowing it’s got 10cm more leg room than the seat in front of it. It also shows layover length visually, making it easy to see how long you’re stuck in an airport eating Subway. However, it’s not consistently great finding the lowest prices.
Kayak.com is probably the most famous site and it offers all the bells and whistles- fare alerts, great filtering options, advice on when you should buy a fare, and consistently coming up with cheap fares. However, it gets a bit lost with secondary cities or more complex itineraries.
Google.com/flights isn’t the best (yet). But, its results are super fast, has the lowest fares, and has a great map feature that lets you select cities and see the fares and dates and any price trends.
Skycanner has consistently low fares, can give you total price visibility for up to a month, acknowledges codeshares (great for frequent flyers), fare alerts, and its ‘anywhere’ feature finds some bargains for the relaxed traveller. However it’s not great for direct flights and lists sponsored posts before the organic ones.
Momondo is the best place to go if you’re looking for cheap flights. It has the cheapest fare results, every time. It doesn’t have all the extra options like some other sites.
Be aware that even though flights may appear on a list, you still need to do due diligence. Check the airline is legit, check the fare isn’t cheaper on their site, check for baggage and credit card fees, and don’t blindly trust it just because it looks good.
If you think you’ve found a great deal, pause for a minute, go directly to the hotel site (or call them) and ask them for their best price for your dates. Sometimes, they are cheaper, sometimes the aggregator is cheaper.
Booking.com has the most variety of results out of every site, so you’ll want to use filter options. It provides the best, lowest rates and a huge number of filters.
Hostelz is the business for cheap, budget accommodation. If you are limited in the funds department, then this is the aggregator for you. If you like hotels and the finer things in life, it’s a bit of a wash-out.
Trivago has fantastic UX and UI, but that’s where the goodness stops. Doesn’t find the cheapest deals, which is the entire point.
Kayak.com is good because you can do flights and accommodation from the same site, but it doesn’t find the lowest price and the algorithms seem to be off, with very few options.
Expedia, Travelocity and Orbitz all have the same results so no need to try all three. Finds some OK prices, and some not-so-OK prices. Doesn’t have a ‘guest rating’ filter and you can only filter one thing at a time.
HotelsCombined is great for unearthing the best prices on some hotels. However, it has a habit of showing a lower price and once you click through you’ll find the actual price is higher.
Priceline.com returns the most results but are solidly average in finding the cheapest deals. However, if you’re OK ‘blind booking’ (knowing only the star rating and neighbourhood) then you’ll save anywhere up to 18% to 60%.
Agoda.com is owned by Priceline, yet outperforms it. It’s great for international options and does very well finding the lowest prices consistently.
Sneaky trick: RoomerTravel is a booking site that takes other’s cancelled bookings and basically sells them off cheap. There are some very cheap deals on here, for some very nice hotels. It’s worth a scan to see if there’s any at your destination.
What’s the best thing to do?
If you’re all about finding the best value for money for your next cruise trip for example, search a couple of aggregator sites, then go directly to the hotel/ airline page and see if it’s cheaper there.
And remember, search only in incognito mode to ensure your prices stay low.
You need to also check that the sites are legit and the flights/ hotels don’t have a bunch of ‘extras’ that end up costing you more. If you are happy to book with a dodgy site, make sure you have very thorough travel insurance. For more information on travel insurance or to buy online visit: https://www.ami.co.nz/travel-insurance