Let's face it: traveling can get expensive.
When you factor in flights, hotels, transportation, food, and activities, planning a trip can become overwhelming and stressful. That's why we've put together a comprehensive guide to all the major travel deal sites for plane tickets, hotels and home rentals, car rentals, cruises, and vacation packages. Whether you're searching for the cheapest ticket to Iceland or an affordable hotel near the beach, this list will help you through every stage of the planning process.
Don't forget to track your flights.
Airfarewatchdog has a team of people dedicated to personally selecting the best fares out of thousands of routes every day. Although the interface is not particularly intuitive and will take you to online travel agencies (OTAs) like Expedia and Priceline when it's time to book, it's worth learning how to navigate the site to get these deals. You can look up tickets on your specific travel dates and destination if you already have a trip in mind — but if you're feeling extra spontaneous, you can find the day's top deals to anywhere in the world, or you can look up the cheapest flights from your nearest airport for the weeks and months ahead.
If you need to escape — and you’re not picky about where to — you can count on Google Flights to help you select the most affordable ticket out of town. All you have to do is select your dates at the top of the page, click the map, and Google will show you how much it costs to fly to different cities around the world.
If you do have a particular destination in mind, Google not only offers you the best prices for your selected dates, it also suggests other days you can fly for cheaper — a great option for those who are flexible with timing.
Hipmunk compares prices for plane and Amtrak tickets to wherever you’re heading. The site is simple to navigate: choose your destination and dates and Hipmunk will pull up all available flights (and train tickets), which you can then sort by price, duration, departure and arrival times, and agony (i.e. the number of connections you’d have to make, the expense, and how long it takes to get to your final destination). You can also filter for your preferred airline, airport, and fare class to help narrow down your search.
The site also gives you the option to book your hotel, rental car, or a vacation package based on your budget and travel needs.
Hopper is an airfare forecasting app that analyzes historical data from trillions of flights and predicts the best dates to book for the most cost-effective trip. When you enter the details of your trip, Hopper will either suggest that you wait for prices to drop before buying your ticket, or it will tell you to go ahead and book. If you decide to wait, you can set up a price alert and Hopper will notify you when prices drop or start to rise.
Although it doesn't track Amtrak prices like Hipmunk, Kayak is a fare aggregator that pulls together the best deals on flights, hotels, car rentals, and vacation packages. When you search for plane tickets, Kayak allows you to filter your preferences down to the tiniest detail, giving you the most comfortable and convenient flight possible. Not only can you specify which airline, airport, and fare class you prefer, you can also filter for short flights, short (and long) layovers, red-eyes, flights with Wi-Fi, and even the type of aircraft you’ll be taking off in.
While you're there, you can also book your hotel, rent a car, buy a vacation package, and reserve your spot at nearby restaurants.
Momondo helps you compare flights between different airlines and booking sites. You can search for flights by price, speed, and a combination of the two, adequately labeled "best." To find a flight most suited to you, you may also opt to filter for cabin, departure and arrival times, flight quality (e.g. red-eyes and layovers), airports, and airlines. There is also a price graph at the top of the page to give you a visual representation of the cheapest dates to fly if you're flexible.
This OTA compares deals on hotels, car rentals, flights, vacation packages, and cruises. Whether you're searching for plane tickets or a car to rent for a weekend getaway, Priceline doesn't give you the option to be too picky about your preferences — but its simple interface makes finding the cheapest ticket as easy as possible.
After you enter your destination, departure and return dates, and cabin class on the main page, Skyscanner will pull up a list of the best flight deals. In addition to filtering for number of stops, departure times, and airlines, you can also sort flights by price, flight duration, and "best," a handy combination of price and speed. And if you're having trouble deciding where to go, search for flights to "Everywhere" to find the lowest ticket prices to anywhere in the world. You can also search for hotels and car rentals while you're booking your tickets.
Yapta has partnered with Skyscanner, so you'll find a lot of similarities between the two sites. However, Yapta is just for booking flights. Once you log into the site, enter your destination city and travel dates, and Yapta will send you the best deals. You can then filter for price, times, airlines, and duration, and sort the flights to see your cheapest options first. As a bonus, if you've already purchased your ticket from these major airlines, make sure to send Yapta your flight details. If ticket prices fall below what you've already paid, Yapta will notify and you and you can get a refund.
Since launching in 2008, Airbnb has become the go-to resource for renting a house, apartment, or room while on vacation. Pick your destination, dates, and number of guests who will be joining you, and Airbnb will offer a selection of homes to stay in. Airbnb allows you to filter your search by price, neighborhood, house rules (e.g. the space is pet-friendly), amenities, and property type (e.g. house, bed and breakfast, yurt, trailor, etc.), and to rent an entire home or book a private room.
Through Airbnb, you also have the option now to book experiences and restaurants for your trip. From surfing classes in Venice Beach to wine and cheese tastings in Paris, Airbnb is becoming the one-stop shop for all your travel needs.
Much like Hipmunk and Kayak, you can use Booking.com to book flights and car rentals, but it's also great for snagging hotel deals. Among the many filtering options, this site allows you to search for hotels based on property rating (e.g. 5 star), price, review score, neighborhood, and distance from downtown. You can also filter for landmarks so you can choose a hotel within a certain radius of all your must-sees.
HomeAway is similar to Airbnb: enter your destination city and dates, and HomeAway will offer a number of houses, apartments, and studios you can choose to stay in. Unlike Airbnb, however, most of the homes on the site are not shared house listings, so you can easily find a place all for yourself. The filters also give you even more options to choose from in terms of property type and location (think a chalet in the mountains or a houseboat on the canal). HomeAway also has a filter for nearby activities; whether you're into scuba diving or museums, the site will help you find a place close to the action.
Hostels are your best bet if you're traveling solo: not only do they give you the opportunity to meet fellow travelers and backpackers, you can also save money by booking a single bed in a dorm. On Hostels.com, you can search for hostels in your destination city by price, rating, and distance from the city center. If the idea of sharing a room with a bunch of strangers makes you uncomfortable, you can also narrow down your search by looking at hostels with individual rooms for couples, groups of friends, and solo travelers. And if you're still not sold on hostels, you can also search for bed and breakfasts, apartments, campsites, and even hotels on the site.
Hostelworld, like Hostels.com, helps you find the best hostels, bed and breakfasts, hotels, apartments, and campsites in whichever city you're visiting. Once you enter your destination and check-in and check-out dates, you can sort your options by price, rating, and distance from the city center. You can also filter your search by the type of room you'd like to stay in (e.g. an individual room with a single bed, a female dorm room), payment options (e.g. credit card, Paypal), and facilities (e.g. free breakfast, luggage storage, 24 hour security).
If you have five-star taste on a three-star budget, you can find great deals on luxury hotels on Jetsetter. Just search for hotels in your destination and Jetsetter will pull up the best discounts, which you can then book on travel aggregator sites like Booking.com. You can filter by neighborhood and the coolest amenities (like spas, golf courses, babysitting services), as well as by three glamorous collections: Royal, Posh, and Brilliant. If you're flexible on the destination, Jetsetter also offers exclusive deals on luxury hotels at up to 40% off; to score these deals, sign up for a free membership here.
VRBO is owned by the same company as HomeAway, and other than the web design, you won't find any difference between the two. Enter your destination city, dates, and number of guests, and VRBO will offer you a selection of available homes to rent. From bungalows and cottages to yachts and villas, you can filter your search to find a place suitable to you, whether your travels take you to the beach or the city.
Whether you're renting a car for a week-long visit to a far-off destination or you're road tripping from one end of the country to the other, Expedia will round up the best deals on cars from different rental car companies. Enter your pick-up location (and drop-off, if applicable) and dates, and Expedia will send you a selection of cars to choose. Filter cars by car type (e.g. economy, SUV, sports car), price, and specifications (e.g. air conditioning, automatic transmission), and if you'd rather not have to go all the way to the airport to get your car, you can also select which neighborhoods you'd prefer to get the car from.
Expedia also provides deals on flights, hotels, cruises, vacation rentals, things to do, and packages — so you can finalize the details of the rest of your trip here as well.
Orbitz is owned by global travel company Expedia Group, so it shares many similarities to Expedia. You can find everything you need to plan a trip on the site: hotels, flights, vacation rentals, cruises, activities, and vacation packages. Head to the Cars section to find the best deal for your day trip outside the city or road trip down the coast.
Expedia Group also owns Travelocity, so this OTA is a lot like Expedia and Orbitz. You can book your hotel, car rental, flights, cruise, and activities here, but the vacation packages are not to be missed. Travelocity will save you lots of money when you book your flight and hotel at the same time, and even more if you need a car rental.
If you're anxious to escape town and go on a cruise, Cruise Compete will help you do that at an affordable price. Select your destination, the month you're planning to travel, cruise length, and cruise line, and Cruise Compete will work with more than 500 travel agencies to send you quotes on different cruises that match your preferences.
Every week, Travelzoo searches over 2,000 companies to offer up the top 20 vacation packages around the world. If you're looking for something more specific, Travelzoo also organizes their vacation packages by trip type, including Beach, Family Friendly, Sports & Adventure, Luxury, and European. The travel site also offers great deals on cruises, city-specific attractions and entertainment, and holiday weekend getaways.
You can book hotels, vacation rentals, flights, and restaurants on TripAdvisor, but the travel aggregator also sells sightseeing tickets and passes, day trips and excursions, and tours. As you plan your trip, look up the city's top attractions to hit the must-see spots favored by travelers around the world, or filter for specific types of attractions — Nature & Parks, Sights & Landmarks, Museums — to experience the city the way you want. Filter options vary by section, so if you're researching tours, you can narrow your search even further by filtering for tour type (e.g. balloon tour, cultural tour), price range, and popular attractions; but if you're hoping to take in nature on your trip, you can filter for hiking trails, state parks, beaches, gardens, and more.
Viator.com is owned by TripAdvisor, so it is similar in many ways, but the biggest difference is that you can only book tours and activities on the site — and over 60,000 of these attractions have been handpicked and pre-vetted to make sure you have the best possible experience. Those who don't have a particular destination in mind can head to the Deals & Discounts section at the bottom of the main page; there you'll find a number of cities offering major deals on their top attractions and tours. However, if you've already got your plane tickets to San Francisco or Florence booked, look up the city on the main page's search bar. You can then filter for Deals & Discounts and low-cost options in the Price Range sections on the left side of the page, and/or sort your options by price. Viator.com also allows you to filter the attractions by activity duration and categories, such as shopping, day trips, theme parks, and walking tours.
This story originally appeared on www.travelandleisure.com