11 top travel websites to help you plan your next vacation - MoneySense

11 top travel sites to help plan your next vacation

Find deals on solo travel, airfare, city tours, hotels and more.

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As a travel expert, I’m constantly asked about my favourite travel websites. Truth be told, there’s not one specific site that I use exclusively since every website is different, often focusing on just one aspect of travel, be it hotels, package tours, airfare deals, or other travel-related stuff. That being said, when I start planning my travels, there are quite a few resources that I constantly check with. From finding cheap airfare to travel hacks, here are my favourite travel websites.

1. Expedia

When I’m looking to bundle my travel—for example, flights, hotels and a car rental—Expedia is the site I go to first since I can typically save a decent amount of money by booking everything together. The best part about Expedia is that I don’t need to make my reservations all at once to take advantage of the savings. I’ve added hotels and car rentals to my flight at a later date and I still paid less than I would have by booking everything separately. Bonus: If you have a TD Rewards Visa Card or TD First Class Visa Infinite Card, you earn additional reward points when booking through Expedia for TD. (Read more about travel rewards credit cards here.)

2. Marriott.com

When I stay at Marriott hotels, I earn Marriott Bonvoy Points, which can then be redeemed at more than 7,000 properties in 115-plus countries—on my next vacation. What makes Marriott.com appealing is that they guarantee the lowest price. If within 24 hours, I find a lower rate for the same hotel, room type and dates, Marriott will give me an additional 25% discount on the room or 5,000 Marriott Bonvoy points. (Bonus: If you hold the Marriott Bonvoy American Express Card, you’ll earn extra reward points when booking through Marriott.com, or using your card to pay at Marriott hotels). Admittedly, this has become a bit of a game for me, since I love hunting for a good deal.

3. Booking.com

When I don’t have a specific hotel chain in mind, I use booking.com, where I can search for everything from serviced apartments to luxury villas. The site’s filters make it incredibly easy to narrow down my choices by neighbourhood or price. There’s no reservation fee and quite often you won’t be charged until after you’ve completed your stay. That being said, you can also get discounts when you prepay your stay, which is another reason why I like this site.


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4. Prince of Travel

Because I collect a ton of loyalty points, I often turn to the Prince of Travel, which is run by a blogger who teaches you how to maximize your points while paying a minimal amount in fees when you travel. It doesn’t matter if you’ve just signed up for your first loyalty program or you’re a seasoned traveller; you’ll learn something with every visit to the site.

5. Sunwing

I rarely book vacation packages, but when people ask me for advice, I refer them to Sunwing, since they’re the largest integrated travel company in North America and offer great prices to more than 45 destinations. Although Sunwing is known for their low prices (OK, yes, sometimes they’re also known for delays and cancellations, so you’ll want to ensure you have a good travel insurance policy in place), they also offer luxury and cruise packages. It doesn’t matter if you’re looking for a kid-friendly property or a hotel that has an all-inclusive option, the Sunwing site’s filters will make it easy for you to find the perfect vacation.

6. G Adventures

If you’re looking for an authentic adventure travel experience in a small group setting, then G Adventures needs to be on your radar. They offer more than 700 tours in 100 countries—and what I like most is how you really get to interact with the people, landscapes and wildlife regardless of what country you’re visiting. Their entire focus is based on supporting local communities, so you know that your trip will be meaningful. Some of their top destinations include South Africa, Sri Lanka and Japan.


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7. Urban Adventures

The first thing I do after I’ve confirmed my travel dates is to check with Urban Adventures to see if they offer any tours at the locations I’m visiting. They offer more than 1,000 experiences in 160-plus destinations, so the odds are usually good that I’ll find something. Through Urban Adventures, I’ve learned to cook monjayaki in Tokyo, explored one of Berlin’s artsy neighbourhoods, and ate too many pastéis de nata in Lisbon while being guided by a local. Most tours run just a few hours, which is perfect for me; they don’t require a huge time commitment and I’ll usually see things that aren’t mentioned in guidebooks.

8. TourRadar

Tours are great for people who don’t have time to plan, or who want a guided experience—but how do you find the right tour and operator when there are thousands to choose from? To help narrow down the choices, I use TourRadar, which is a search engine just for multi-day experiences. Despite the fact that they compare 30,000-plus tours from more than 1,000 operators such as Contiki, Intrepid Travel and Trafalgar, it’s surprisingly easy to find a tour perfect for you since the user reviews paint a clear picture of what you can expect.

9. Next Departure

Have you ever seen those crazy-cheap flights on social media? The odds are Next Departure found that deal first. Founders Rishi and Farah aren’t travel agents, nor are they industry insiders. They just know how to use the tools available to find the best deals on departures from more than a dozen Canadian cities. Some of the most recent cheap fares they found include Toronto to Thailand for $675, and Vancouver to Lima for $375.


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10. Rome2rio

Whenever I’m trying to figure out how to make my way between two destinations, I turn to Rome2rio. I simply plug in my two points of interest—city, town, landmark or attraction—and Rome2rio will show me the different bus, train, ferry and flight options, along with how long these journeys will take. This information makes it easy for me to figure out routes and the best modes of transportation to get from point A to B.

11. Money We Have

Okay—shameless self-promotion here, but my website Money We Have is one of my favourite travel websites. From tips for solo travellers to how much it costs to visit some of the top destinations in the world, I’m here to show you that you can travel on any budget.

 

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