Image Credit: Shutterstock | Fly_dragonfly
Technology’s effects on the travel industry are widespread, with innovation signaling the dawn of a new age of travel products and services after the birth of the Internet and modern-communication systems. Not only has the industry itself benefited from recent technological advancements such as with GPS in rental cars, Wifi on airplanes, and computerized hotel door locks, just to name a few, but consumers have as well through the rise of countless travel websites and apps devoted to enhancing the customer experience from beginning to end.
Today, if you’re interested in booking a journey to a foreign destination, all you have to do is pull out your trusted mobile phone, jump on the Internet, and find every tidbit of information you’re after. The Internet has afforded us the ability to research vacation destinations with tools like Google Maps, Google Street View, YouTube and Facebook, along with easily scouring for images and online reviews. But it’s the world’s always-open travel Websites and smartphone apps that have enabled unfettered access to these sizzling-hot locales, providing the ability to search, price, and book at a moment’s notice.
Gallery: Airbnb, Snapgoods and 12 More Pioneers Of The ‘Share Economy’
View gallery Most Popular In:Tech
No matter what type of experience a traveler is looking for, nor the type of travel they’re after — from hotel suites, to villas or condos, car rentals, flights, cruises and beyond — there’s something available out there for everyone. But, only a select few online destinations make the cut for consideration as some of the world’s best travel Websites.
The Best Travel Websites in the World
Across the globe, there are alluring destinations that beckon would-be travelers from both near and far. They’re destinations that boast shimmering turquoise waters, white-sandy beaches, snow-capped mountains, exotic jungles, private islands, bustling metropolises, and even arid deserts.
These travel hotspots have always existed, but it’s today’s wide-reaching access to an interconnected and technologically-advanced network of computers that has brought each of these places a little bit closer to home. And as a self-professed wanderlust, I’ve traveled the world many times over, visiting dozens of countries over the years. From the glittering coastline of Monaco, to the rolling hills of Tuscany, and even the war-torn streets of Kiev, I’ve just about seen it all. Throughout that time, I’ve relied heavily on technology and the information gleaned from the Web along with the assistance of several very important Websites to book my travel.
While much of the experience of travel might be subjective, and there is most certainly something for everyone out there depending on their lifestyle and budget, these following Websites have proven invaluable to me and countless others out there. You won’t find them all to be mainstream, so to speak, but you will find them to be important resources to potentially rely on for your upcoming trip.
Hometown Holdouts: An eBook From Forbes
A collection of stories and advice from some of America’s most highly regarded culinary companies and figures.
#1 — Airbnb
In 2008, Airbnb was virtually unknown. The company was strapped with $40,000 in debt with seemingly no way out. Their idea just hadn’t caught on. But, after coming up with an inventive way to raise the money to pay off their debt by creating custom cereal boxes, they eventually blazed a trail into the mainstream.
Today, the company needs little in the way of an introduction. With over 1.5 million listings in 34,000 cities in 190 countries, a recent $20.1 billion valuation, and 19 offices around the world, the company has most certainly infiltrated the far-reaches of the world with its concept.
Airbnb manages the rental experience to a degree, connecting renters with owners and property managers. Here, you’ll find anything from a shared space, a mobile home, a beach house and a castle, with authentic reviews based solely on rental interactions, which are verifiable by the company.
#2 — HomeAway
An alternative to the Airbnb experience is HomeAway, a company that existed years before Airbnb saw its explosive growth. HomeAway’s own growth started in the mid-2000’s when it began aggregating vacation rental websites by acquiring some of the most popular ones on the market such as VRBO and VacationRentals.com.
Today, this company owns 40 Websites operating in 22 languages with over 1 million listings. The difference from Airbnb, however, is that HomeAway doesn’t control the rental experience. While it does offer the option to process payments, the service acts more like a rentals classified system rather than an overseer of the vacation-rental experience.
#3 — Kayak
With everything under one roof, you can use Kayak to scour the Web to find deals on flights, hotel rooms, and rental cars. One of the best features about this travel Website are the pricing trends and the predictive algorithms on where prices are going — up or down. You can use the information gleaned to assess your options for buying now or holding off.
Another great feature? Use Kayak’s travel alerts to email you when deals pop up for your intended destination. You can also search using a range of dates (i.e. 3 days before or after your departure and arrival dates) to find the best price on deals.
#4 — Momondo
Momondo is by far one of the best travel Websites for sourcing travel deals with one of the most intuitive meta search engines for pricing flights, hotels, and rental cars. Similar to Kayak, you can also setup travel alerts here to notify you when prices change.
While you can’t book flights directly on Momondo (whereas you can on Kayak), you’ll find the resource to be invaluable. Use it in conjunction with Kayak and other sites to ensure that you’re finding the best deals for a particular trip.
#5 — Skiplagged
Skiplagged taps into a not-too-well-known concept in travel referred to as “hidden cities.” What is it? Hidden cities is a play on market forces to take advantage of some of the pricing inefficiencies that exists in the travel industry. A hidden city occurs when a passenger disembarks at the connecting city of their flight rather than flying through to the end.
Why do it? A flight from Point A to Point B, if Point B is a popular destination such as NYC, LAX, or MIA, will be more expensive than taking a flight from Point A to Point C, where Point C is a less popular frequented destination, but deplaning at Point B.
#6 — Jetsetter
Jetsetter is one of the foremost purveyors of luxury travel for the discerning guests. The company provides a curated-travel experience with their verified and approved properties and hotels. They test much of what matters most to people when visiting a hotel: the bed, water pressure, Wifi signal strength, the knowledge of the local staff such as the concierge and the prowess of their mixologists.
The best part? Jetsetter runs flash sales from time to time, and based on a strong foundational email-marketing platform, they send those flash sales to people who will care most about them. They’re also one of the best in the industry for providing insider access along with exclusive deals to hotels and resorts around the world.
#7 — Luxury Retreats
Recently purchased by AirBnB for approximately $200 million, Montreal-based, Luxury Retreats is the brainchild of Joe Poulin. With nearly two decades in the business, it’s clear that Luxury Retreats, a company with over 3,000 high-end villas in destinations around the globe, is a leader in the marketplace.
The company provides a 100-point inspection on its villas and has been one of the longest-running and most highly-acclaimed companies in the industry. Clearly, the villa rental industry is here to stay, as travelers turn to larger aggregates like this company to ensure that their next stay goes without a hitch.
#8 — FlyerTalk Forums
Quite possibly one of the best travel Websites for finding the most amazing deals, the FlyerTalk Forums don’t provide a resource for actually booking travel, but rather for sourcing the best and cheapest travel out there today. Here, you’ll find everyone from industry insiders to travel enthusiasts that scour the Web for outrageous deals and post them in this very forum.
While you can’t book the travel directly on FlyerTalk Forums, you will find some of the best deals possible out there. This isn’t just about the cheapest airfare, it’s about the ludicrous deals that spring up from time to time that are not only attractive from a pricing standpoint, but also unbelievable from a service-level standpoint.
#9 — Skyscanner
Skyscanner provides one of the best interfaces for finding great deals on travel anywhere in the world. The ‘flexible’ search option is especially valuable when being used to discover travel locations that might offer an attractive price.
Skyscanner is a self-proclaimed “unbiased and free” system for sourcing travel. Aside from the Website, the company offers an app and 30 languages in 70 different countries. While others offer apps as well, this is certainly one of the more popular engines for sourcing travel, especially for travel within Europe.
#10 — Airfare Watch Dog
Rather than rely solely on machine intelligence, Airfare Watch Dog, a site devoted to finding the best deals on travel, uses a small group of staff members to scour the Web and handpick the best deals. Although you won’t find as many deals on Airfare Watch Dog as some of the other sites, you will find some of the best ones out there.
Particularly, the site states that it lists airfares that have gone down suddenly (i.e. during the course of a day or overnight), generally appear lower than their historical averages, are typically offered by a smaller number of airlines serving the same route, are in general a good deal when taking into account all factors (including but not limited to things like fees and fare restrictions), and are usually unadvertised otherwise.