What is the best online travel site out there? How do you filter through all that info? What if you just want to get away with friends and have no hassles?
After going through this I felt the need to write this article base on my experience trying to book and booking a recent trip with friends. This seems like a simple task at first but I started learning my lesson quickly that it was going to lead to writing my reviews and helpful hints for others, in hope they will not make the same mistake as I did.
When you plan on using an online travel site or travel agent, you would think all the prices would come in about the same and offer you the same services. How untrue is this, Travel agents prices are much higher so I have excluded them from this review and they are just out of the question unless you are making a multiple destination trip. These are just my personal reviews and over all option how they rank based on price, customer services, options, add on services and payment options.
Location for the trip was up in the air we wanted to escape the grind of a major city and spend time in the warm blue waters of the Caribbean or Mexico. Although the location was not important to us here were the items that we wanted: 1) Swimmable Beach (Hey there are some places that this is not possible) 2) Under $650 all inclusive including taxes, airfare, all-inclusive hotel and airport transfers 3) 5 Nights minimum 4) Departing From Chicago O’Hare International or Chicago Midway Airport.
1. HOTWIRE.COM – Yes they do offer Vacation packages that you get to pick the location and the name of the hotel, and not leave it to the guessing until your credit card has been Charge.
Pros’: By far the Lowest prices, Customer service, Splitting payment with different Credit Cards, Will hold Prices till Midnight the day you call, Value added Features, no hidden fees they give you the total price upfront
Cons”: Over seas Customers Service, But this seams to be common with all the travel websites, only can be booked out of major International airports, do not offer many direct flight options.
2. EXPEDIA.COM – Great site to navigate around and they do offer you many trip ideas including last minute deal.
Pros’: Low Price, Different flight options then hotwire, Customer services, easy to navigate the site
Cons’: Not the best options on the hotels and to search by hotel options was a bit time consuming, Price was a bit higher
3. CHEAPCARIBBEAN.COM – With all the traveling that I have done never used this site, but was surprising shocked with their service.
Pros’: Will hold Prices for 48 hours so that groups can call in and get the same prices, Great Customer services, Lowest prices to select destinations.
Cons’: Hidden fees, published prices were always out of Miami, limited hotel and destination to select from
The sites that were ranked in my book behind all the rest, ORBITZ.COM, their customer service was so bad I even to the time to write them a letter about how and why we ended up booking with another online travel site. BOOKIT.COM, there are so many hidden fees with this site we they give you the price you have to ad an additional $200 Dollars by the time you Check out. Finally, TRAVELOCITY.COM and I really hate to put them at the bottom but their prices were almost double all the other sites.
At the end we booked with HOTWIRE.com all-inclusive in Mexico, Ocean Coral & Turquoise, US Airways & Aero Mexico. Could not ask for a better trip and deal, but my advise is check the sites yourself, and find the one that meets your needs and service standards.