Every day, a dozen new travel websites start up in hopes of making your trip planning easier, help you meet locals, crowdsource your advice, or save money. And with equal speed as many travel websites fail each day. A lot of travel start-ups try to fill a void where none exists. There are just some things that people don’t want, need, or desire. There many are with innovative ideas but are poorly executed and end up floundering.
Then there are the ones that stick around, grow, and catch on because they are truly useful and not some fad. I want to share 10 websites that can (or have the potential to) help make your planning easier and help you save money:
Busbud is a unique website that makes bus travel a lot easier, especially in developing countries where information is not always online. You can search routes, compare prices, and book tickets online. According to the website, Busbud lists routes for 10,463 cities in 89 countries. I don’t know of another website as comprehensive as this one. They do a really good job. I highly recommend this site.
One of the downsides to TripAdvisor and other crowdsourced review sites is that everyone can leave reviews. We’ve all heard about people who threaten to leave bad reviews or complain their shower couldn’t fit multiple people. Throw in businesses who buy favorable reviews, and it’s no wonder hardly anyone I know trusts TripAdvisor reviews.
One site that is aiming to change that is TripExpert. This site aggregates reviews from dozens of guidebooks, magazines, and other trusted travel media to give the hotel property a score based off the average. Of course, it works on the assumption that travel experts are better judges of quality, but I think this site has a lot of potential. The site is relatively small right now, but if it grows and catches on, it would be a better alternative to TripAdvisor.
Few travelers have any idea about their airline rights (and there are actually a few). Airlines like it that way because it reduces the compensation they have to give. AirHelp seeks to change that by helping passengers secure compensation from delayed, cancelled, or overbooked flights. Most people who try to get compensation simply get tired of the airlines dragging everything out and give up. AirHelp does everything for you. For a small percentage, they will work on your behalf to secure you the legal compensation you are owed. For anyone with something better to do than argue with the airlines (i.e., all of us), this website is for you. Highly recommended.
It seems every blogger has a Trover account these days. I find them on everyone’s website, showing all their photos. Trover is yet another website that lets you capture and share stories about your favorite restaurants, landmarks, sights, and adventures. You can geotag places you discover so others can go there too (it also helps in remembering where the heck that pizza shop was!). I think it’s a pretty interesting website, but there are a lot of travel photography websites out there at the moment. I’ll be curious to see if Trover stays around.
So, I love apartment rentals. They are an inexpensive alternative to hotels and the next step up from hostels. The problem? There seem to be about 10 million rental websites out there. It’s hard to search them all. The solution?: Tripping. This website searches about 18 apartment rental sites, including HomeAway, VRBO, FlipKey, Housetrip, Interhome, Roomorama, and Booking.com. It is a huge, huge time saver. I highly recommend it. The only downside? It doesn’t search Airbnb. You have to do that on your own.
There’s a airline ticket booking trick called “hidden city ticketing.” Basically, if your flight from LA to NYC is $300 but a flight from LA to NYC to Boston is $280, you book the second flight, get off at NYC, and never get the last flight. (This only works if you have a carry-on and are going one way.) Of course, airlines don’t like passengers doing this and have specific language in their terms and conditions against this. You won’t go to jail but, if caught, it can result in your frequent flier account being terminated.
But it is hard to find these hidden routes, and this is where this website comes in. They find the routes for you. This website (and method) have been around for a while — but doing it, and doing it often, will get you on an airlines radar really quickly! That’s not a place you want to be.
Use at your own risk.
Another similar site is Skiplagged. They are a good hidden city fare finder and one worth checking too. (They are also site #10 on this list for those counting!)
This is the best travel news website on the web. They break a lot of travel industry news and have detailed reports and stories about various trends. If you’re looking to learn about what is going on with your favorite travel companies, what is happening in the industry, or what the future might hold, visit Skift. I read it daily.
This is a good UK-based website that finds all sorts of travel deals. They search a ton of routes and fares looking for mistakes in airline pricing that score you cheaper flights. Though most of their deals are for flights and holidays out of the UK, they also find good deals around the continent. They have a German and American version too. Highly recommended.
One of the best recent deal websites in the United States. The find a ton of hidden deals, mistake fares, and cheap flights. I’m constantly looking at this website to see what they find. They find a lot of amazing fares. If you are looking for cheap, last-minute flights, use this website. I highly recommend it.
Got a different website that does something amazing? Leave it in the comment section and I’ll check it out.