Living Authentically

5 Best Travel Websites for Independent Travelers

As an independent traveler and early adopter of technology, I’ve researched and tried countless online travel services. Here are the 5 best travel websites that I rely on for my travel planning, purchases, and recommendations.

1. Wego Travel Search

Of all the travel search engines available online, I’ve always found Wego to be the most comprehensive – especially when it comes to flight search. Since it’s a travel search engine and not an agency, Wego redirects searchers to the booking sites with the lowest airfares or hotel rates. It also offers flexible date flight search and real-time results, so you can find cheap tickets from cancellations…if you’re fanatical enough to check every day.

2. AwardWallet

No more wasting of frequent flyer miles and hotel loyalty points! AwardWallet lets you easily track multiple rewards programs for multiple people all in one place, and even check out ratings of various rewards programs. And with Android and iPhone apps, you can track your points on the go.

3. TripAdvisor

TripAdvisor is my starting point when searching for great hotels within my travel budget because they have the widest coverage of places to stay, and because they let me compares prices easily across various hotel booking sites. Their user interface is fantastic when the search filters aren’t broken.

Some complain that reviews can be easily faked, but with so many in-depth reviews and a established community of contributors, I say it’s safe to rely on TripAdvisor to help you decide which hotel or restaurant to visit.

4. TripIt

I must say that initially I wasn’t very attracted to TripIt or any other trip planning websites. I was used to dumping my itinerary on Google Docs and pinning places of interest on Google Maps. But TripIt is a convenient place to store all my travel booking confirmations and plans.

For instance, I just have to input my flight number and TripIt automatically fills in the flight timings, distance, and other details. It’s also easy to share my itinerary with friends – though I still think travel planning websites, on the whole, have plenty of room to improve.

5. Couchsurfing

I’m new to couchsurfing, but already I love it. The CouchSurfing community includes some of the most friendly and welcoming people I know. Some people have asked me: “What sort of gullible person would offer a total stranger their home and couch for free? And what sort of gullible person would stay the night in a total stranger’s house?” Join CouchSurfing and you’ll get it.

What are the travel sites or online travel services that you use regularly and would recommend to fellow travelers?