US is a big country, without exploring its beauty by traveling – your visit to US may not be complete. How then can you travel to the best spots in US without burning your pocket? Let’s look at the sites that we ourselves use to find deals. We will look into four different categories and we will throw in some additional options, just for the good measure:
- Rental Cars
- Other Options
Photo credit: Marc Levin
Flights within US:
When it comes to finding a flight deal – its a very tricky jungle out there. For some ungodly reason – you tend to find worse deals on official sites and great deals on booking sites. Below is a list of our favorite booking sites.
SouthWest: Booking sites are sweet but what is sweeter is finding a good deal on the official website that also has ‘free baggage allowance’. No wonder this company fought its way back from bankruptcy to becoming one of the major players. They merged Airtran making their routes even more accessible.
Spirit Airlines: If you don’t mind about the ‘non-reclining’ chairs and don’t bother about snacks on a 1 to 2 hour flights – then spirit airlines is worth checking. Last time we flew to Dallas – we saved over $250 on two tickets together. I don’t think the handful peanuts on other airlines are worth $250.
Kayak: Probably one of the best sites on the internet to find best flight deals, especially, local travel.
OneTravel: We found the best deals, better than kayak, on international travel from/to US on this site. Not our favorite for local travel but definitely worth checking out for international. Pay extra attention to your route before confirming the ticket. They have 24 hour cancel policy wherein you can cancel your tickets within first 24 hours for a nominal fees. Sweet deal when you are getting non-refundable ticket deals with this feature.
Expedia: This site serves many corporates around the world and for a good reason. Their price match is great – in case you find a better deal after booking your trip – they will reimburse you the difference.
Priceline: Unique feature of this site is you can name your price and if they find a deal that matches your price – they will confirm your booking. The itinerary is a bit twisted but prices are sweet.
Hotels in US:
Traveling can be exhausting and you want to find a good place to crash. It is even better if you get it at a good price.
Hotwire: The BEST when it comes to finding cheaper hotels. My recent search showed me deals of $76 for a 3 star hotel on a long weekend in San Antonio, one of good tourist destinations. The only draw back is that you will not find the ‘hotel’ you are going to be booked at until you confirm the booking.
Booking.com: This is my favorite site for international hotel booking. Their prices are hard to beat even by a local booking agent. When I traveled along Argentina – this site was a god sent as I did not have to go through hoops to get a deal in a foreign country.
Trivago: Trivago is a hotel search engine, that is, it finds the best deals from other booking sites and presents the comparison for same room from different sites so that you can make the decision. Prices are competent to Hotwire and you don’t have the guess work like in hotwire.
Hotels.com: Obvious choice, they call it. Obviously we couldn’t leave it out.
Car Rentals :
Personally, I prefer driving to flying. Especially, if the drive is under 8 hours. First – I love driving, second, for a 8 hour road trip, the flight is about 1.5 to 2 hours, with security check (2 hours), going to airport (1 hour), finding a cab (.5 hr), getting to where you have to (.5 to 1 hour) put together – you spend 6.5 hours anyway. Of course, if you don’t love driving, flying maybe best bet. Also, during long weekends flying is much more expensive than driving.
Hotwire: We are glad to see hotwire the second time and for a reason. Their prices are always awesome. The drawback, though, continues. You will not know who you are renting from until you confirm the booking. Since they only have reliable players in their list – I don’t mind the chance.
Enterprise: “Pick us and we’ll pick you” is Enterprise’s motto. When you book the car with Enterprise – they will pick you up and drop you off (within their area of coverage). Sweet. Apart from that – I have always been a fan of enterprise until they changed their unlimited nationwide miles to unlimited neighboring state miles. Nevertheless, not everyone is as crazy as I am when it comes to driving – and so – enterprise is still a way to go if you are driving to neighboring states and want unlimited miles at sweet price. To top it off they stood number 1 in customer service/ratings for 2014.
Avis: Avis operations are far fetching and I like the fact that I can rent a car in a country like India, where historically car renting has not been in vogue, with Avis. Check Avis for your international travel needs.
Hertz: Like hotels.com in the previous section – we cannot complete this section without including Hertz when it comes to rental cars. They have extensive availability of cars in almost all locations that you find car rental services in US.
We covered air, road and now its time to turn to water. There are many vacation cruise package deals to many locations from the US. Unless you are prone to seasickness, cruise is an experience you must add to your bucket list.
Expedia: We see another service provider that appeared twice on this list and there is a good reason to it. When it comes to cruises you want a reliable service and with its price guarantee and a long history – Expedia is a real deal when it comes to cruises.
CruiseOne: Get cruise and destination credits that you can spend on cruise and the destination. One of the most contemporary sites with wide range of options.
iCruise: When your plans are to take your cruising international (works well for national too) – then this is a site you want to check to find the deal.
Cruise.com: This is our hotels.com for the cruise section – we have to mention it because – it is an obvious choice and you shouldn’t book anything before comparing the deal here.
Other travel options: If you don’t want to fly, drive or take cruise, the other option is train and bus. Following are few choices:
Amtrak: Where available, amtrak is a great way to travel. For the number 1 country in the world – train connectivity sucks. That is why, unfortunately, I had to include this under ‘other’ options.
Greyhound: Probably one of the most endured way of traveling in US and still continues to be one of the most connected transportation (better than train) system. Not the classy of choices but a choice nevertheless.
MegaBus: Serving close to 10% of US population (30 million out of 330 million) MegaBus is a great option, where available. If you book the ticket early enough – you maybe able to get it for under $10. They have onboard wi-fi, electric ports to run your laptop (or to charge your PDA, etc).
We hope all the array of choices we presented in this article inspire you to travel and explore new places.
Disclaimer: This article is for informational purposes only. Not an advice.