April showers bring…summer vacation planning time!
Oh that joyous part of the summer when people fly away to foreign lands or visit relatives and friends in neighboring cities to beat the heat of their own. A vacation is one of the few things for which people keep countdowns, and a good one has the potential to refuel those batteries for another few months. But the bad vacations are the ones that can spur on the most heated battles between spouses and friends. To keep your vacations from being one for the books and to make your planning process easier, we at Sitejabber have compiled, with the help of our users’ reviews, ten travel sites that can help with your summer vacation.
Pick a destination
The world is your oyster, well, depending on how much you’ve saved up. There are hidden treasures around every corner of every country of every continent. Uncovering them may be the difficult part, but the Travel Channel’s website may be able to help you decide on your exotic destination for the year. With assorted videos, you can get a better feel for a location than you can just reading about it.
Once you’ve decided that you might be more adventurous and head to Latin America, Asia or Africa, you’ll definitely need to check up on vaccination recommendations and other health concerns. No one wants to be stranded in Vietnam with yellow fever, so check the CDC’s website and get your vaccinations in order!
Compare flight prices
Nobody wants to have purchased a flight to their destination only to find out from a friend or a website that they should have flown another airline for a savings of at least $100. To avoid feeling regret, Sitejabber users recommend Kayak, an aggregator of sites like Orbitz, Hotwire, and Travelocity. Kayak allows you to compare prices and details for your flight to get you there as efficiently and cheaply as possible.
If your trip is flexible and dependent on the price of airfare, Yapta may be a handy tool that monitors prices and alerts you when fares to your destination are low. Better yet, Yapta provides help in getting a refund on the difference if the price drops further after your purchase.
And if you’re lucky enough to be under 27, you’ll want to check out STA Travel to see discounts on airfare, hotel, hostels, etc. during your travel.
Choose your seats wisely
Getting the right seat on the airplane can help you start and end your trip on the right note. Who wants to have the seat that the bathroom door happens to swing open into, allowing wafts of unfriendly air to swallow your face? Or the seat that’s nowhere close to an outlet, thus preventing you from hours of Glee viewing on your laptop? (Side tip if you do get that seat: remember you’re in public when you have the urge to belt along with the cast.) Seat Guru and Seat Expert are both sites that allow you to find out more details about your seat before you choose it.
Stay on top of the flight details
On the day of your flight, you want to make sure that all operations are running smoothly. You don’t want to run to the airport and find out that your flight is delayed by 3 hours and that you could have spent that time watching funny cat videos. Flight Stats allows you to check on airport delays so that your plans go smoothly.
Vet the hotels
Figuring out the nitty gritty of a trip for your family or friends can be a daunting task, and finding the right accommodations is essential. A good hotel should fit within your budget, be situated close to the activities in which you’d like to partake, be safe and clean, and provide the proper amenities and customer service. It’s a tougher job than it looks, especially when hotel websites are oftentimes showing you their best sides and angles.
Sitejabber users suggest travellers use Trip Advisor to check up on hotels. With abundant reviews of thousands of hotels, Trip Advisor allows you to vet your own hotels before you press the book button. Several users do warn against taking reviews at face value as reviews may be written by friends of hotel owners.
Check for predators
Finally, remember that predators may lurk in those hotel rooms – those predators being bedbugs! Increasingly a problem, particularly in hotels where beds might not be thoroughly cleaned, bedbugs can be a threat to your trip as well as to your health. Trip Advisor does offer information on bedbugs in certain hotels, but you may also want to check Bedbug Registry.
Once you’ve gotten all the arrangements and planning done, sit back and relax. Not everyone gets a chance to travel, and count yourself among the lucky if you’re able to get away for even a weekend. When you get back, life will reconvene, and you’ll want to look back at the trip with wistful longing. And maybe you’ll start planning your next one, now that you’ve got all the tools you need.
Sitejabber is a consumer protection service which helps people avoid fraudulent websites and find good sites. You can use Sitejabber to review, complain about and report fraud on websites, as well as research unfamiliar sites. Sitejabber is made possible by a grant from the National Science Foundation and was named a Top 100 Website of 2010 by PC magazine.