The best travel site should be a valuable tool in creating your ideal trip, whether you’re planning an overseas vacation, a business trip, or a weekend road-trip. These websites work like robotic travel agents. Instead of asking you to go to the dozens of airline websites and hundreds of hotel websites to search for your ideal dates and route, travel sites perform all of these searches with a single click.
To find the best, we looked for websites which could search for a variety of bookings, and tracked prices and user experiences focusing on flights, rental cars, and hotels, and bring us back the best services at the best prices.
How We Chose the Best Travel Sites
Price is the undisputed king in the travel world. So you might be surprised to learn that since more than 95 percent of the online travel marketplace is controlled by just two companies (Expedia and Priceline), many of our travel sites found the exact same flights and cars for the exact same price. Our top picks all consistently found us the best prices for the cheapest flights and rentals – though Booking.com won top crown for finding the cheapest price overall and Priceline’s unique tool helped us luck into getting a great deal.
Flexible date tools let you see what happens if you slightly adjust dates for a proposed trip. We love being able to compare prices if we left for vacation a day earlier, or came back a day later. If you’re bargain hunting and haven’t completely set a schedule, flexible dates are a must-have. Kayak was our favorite here, with flexible date results that ranged from one to three days, or even a whole month so you can see what week is best for your summer vacation.
Whether tracking down the right hotel amenities, locating a specific car type, or making sure our plane ticket covers baggage fees, it’s crucial to have great comparison features on a travel site. The best travel site will make it easy to request amenities, or at least give us a good look at the features of different options. Hipmunk stood out here with useful diagrams and cool displays about each hotel and flight in our search. We could tell at a glance that it was worth paying some extra money for a four-hour flight with Alaska rather than a thirteen-hour multi-stop flight with Spirit.
At its most basic, the best travel site should have pages that load quickly, display relevant results, and don’t leave us wondering if we’ve accidentally clicked on spam. This turned out to be a high bar. A few websites flooded us with pop-up ads imploring us to “call for better rates!” and StayDriveFly and ShareTrips had so many pop-ups their pages took an eternity to load. We also frowned on travel sites that sprinkled alternative date options within our requested results: Every time we saw good prices, we had to double-check that the dates were in fact ours. The best travel site shouldn’t make us feel concerned about leaving our credit card information with them, and won’t side-track us with irrelevant search results.
The 5 Best Travel Sites (according to www.reviews.com)
- Booking.com – Best Airfare Site
- Expedia – Best Car Rental Site
- KAYAK – Best for Flexible Planning
- Hipmunk – Best for Comparing Features
- Priceline – Runner-Up Best Car Rental Site