Guest Author - Christine Wilcox
Trekking out to the web to plan a solo trek can be daunting. I'm the first to admit, typing in "travel planning" and having it yield 79,100,000 hits on Google can make one's head spin. Everyone promises cheap deals. Everyone promises the best plans. But when your suitcase is itching to be overstuffed with - well - stuff - the decision about where to go is almost easier than how to book it all.
Absolutely, if you want someONE to take care of every last detail of planning, or if you want someONE to call who will take care of everything if things go awry, stop reading and call a travel agent. Don't even go any further. Will you pay more through a travel agent? Not necessarily. You can get some great deals through travel agents, so it might be worth your time to give them a call. Travel agents are also the specialists in knowing when is the best time to go somewhere. You may more easily avoid heat waves, rainy seasons, and other natural phenomena by utilizing these travel industry experts as your first stop.
If you're feeling up to the challenge, you can head out to one of several "one stop internet travel shops" and do some comparisons.
One of the first places I love to check is Fodors.com. I like Fodor's because of their discriminating taste and comprehensive references, but I LOVE their Travel Deals section. You can find some great deals that are all-inclusive, and hands down, Fodor's is a name you can trust in travel.
My next stop for vacation packages is most commonly Travelocity.com or Expedia.com. Sometimes - each site offers nearly identical packages, but if you're open to exploring new destinations, I definitely recommend giving either site a try. I've used both in the past. When I had an issue with needing to cancel a ticket, Expedia was very helpful in navigating all of the twists and turns with the airline. Both travel sites have equivalent amenities, and Expedia offers it's services without booking fees.
Where to go next? I always check out Priceline.com, just for kicks. I've only used their services a couple of times for hotel reservations, and both times the results were surprisingly above par.
Where won't I go for internet travel booking is a LONG list - and it includes ANY where I haven't heard of before. Why? Because you never know what types of fees you're facing. As the adage goes - Read the fine print carefully. If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is. Sometimes, extremely low fares and package deals are advertised without the applicable taxes, so what can look a good deal may only save you a few dollars - if any at all - in the long run.
What are your favorite online booking sites? Drop by the Solo Travel Forum and share!