If you like this guide, please click the yes button below. You can use many different web sites to comparison shop for flights, rental cars and hotels, and interesting information about your destination. This guide will describe all of my strategies to putting together unforgettable vacations. Even exotic destinations are with in your reach, and you do not need to go on "tours" in order to see the wonderful places of the world. A word of caution: If you are the kind of person who doesn't like to research things, and would prefer going on a cruise or package tour to a destination, no need to read this. This is for the real travelers who want to experience places in a unique and memorable way.
In order to price flights, begin with www.travelzoo.com. This is a great web site that allows you to "super search" many travel web sites at the same time. It then gives you a nice menu of many other sites, like Expedia, Orbitz, Travelocity, as well as individual airlines, and helps you find the cheapest tickets available. In general, its best to price each part of your vacation, flight, hotel and rental cars separately, so you can then later compare prices for packages. Another great site is www.Nextag.com.
After, go back and run the same search for your destination on www.travelocity.com, just to see if you can find better prices. Understand that prices for flights change nearly every minute, so just because something is or is not available when you search, doesnt mean that it will always be that way. Buying tickets way in advance doesn't necessarily guarantee you a lower price. Buying tickets at the last minute doesn't guarantee lower or higher prices either, so you must continue your search over and over until you find what you want.
Beware of packages (flights and hotels) offered by the airlines directly. I have compared prices and they are seldom lower than what you can find on your own. Check out www.hotels.com, www.cheaptickets.com and all of the sites mentioned above for hotels. Travelzoo also has a great feature that easily lists by departure city what the best deals are to various locations. After i have found a few hotels that I like, I go directly to the hotels websites and see if they are offering any specials. Sometimes the prices on the hotels web sites are cheaper than the websites mentioned above. To learn about the hotels, try www.tripadvisor.com, which has reviews on every hotel, condo, boutique hotel. Beware that many people who are disgruntled will write in to complain about really stupid things, but if you read enough, you can see the truth and find the best places to stay. They also have resident experts that help you learn what to, where to go, where to eat, etc.
Frequent fliers: Do not get sucked into using your miles at the highest point level for the trip of your dreams. Most if not all of the airlines frequent flier websites are extremely difficult to use, as you can not do a search like"Find me the lowest points that i need for a two week trip to Italy , leaving in July and August". Its best to call the airline directly, and talk to the frequent flier customer service person. They can do searches like that for you. If they cant find you a flight that you want, wait, and call back in a few hours or days. I recently got two round trip tickets to Hawaii for 35,000 miles each, booked three weeks before my trip, just because I called them back two hours after they told me nothing was available. Continental is the best, followed by United. Northwest is the worst.
Information about a destination is widely available on the internet. Try using www.google.com and www.about.com, and just put the name of the place that you wish to visit. Click on sites, and as you find them, bookmark them in a folder so you can decide if they are great sites. Sometimes, if you do an advanced search on a country, you can put in .edu, for just articles on the place written and published by universities. This is where you will see many interesting things. I found articles on hidden passageways and walls of Rome by doing this, and went to some of those places, without a guide, armed with just a print out of someone's article.
Research the food that you might read about. Try putting in to the search engine (Country or City name) and Food or Cuisine, and learn about the five or ten things that you must try while you are there. Go to www.pbs.org and search on the place you wish to visit. You will be surprised what documentaries you can watch and download for free, to learn more about your destination.
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