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If you are poised for your next vacation and just need a plan, we can help. Of course, it’s convenient to do all your travel arrangements online but it can be overwhelming when you click the search menu to find so many options appear.
We know, from experience, that some are better than others. So, we looked into what seems to be working for people and which sites get top points for helping people DIY their holidays — and why.
While you could spend tons of time sorting through all the sites (comparing prices, upgrades, dates of travel etc.) the beauty of a good travel site is that it will wade through all of that in a fraction of the time.
A reliable travel site is not only a way to save time but also land the best deals.
We’re not necessarily talking about cheaping out on your vacation but about scoring the best prices available because, when it comes to making travel plans, we live by the mantra ‘spend less, travel more.’
Sleep deprived and ready to indulge
Expedia released its annual Vacation Deprivation study (yep, that’s a thing) and found Canadians took fewer vacation days than the global average in 2021. That has, not surprisingly, translated into more than half feeling vacation deprived and 71 per cent feeling burned out.
But that may be about to change.
Nearly 94 per cent of Canadians, according to Expedia, said, “regular vacations are important for general health and wellbeing.”
Now that COVID-19 seems to be less of an interloper in our daily lives, a road trip here or a flight there seems a lot more feasible. Many Canadians find themselves longing for some well-deserved rest and relaxation.
Our list below highlights some trusted sites where you can chart out your travels. Bon voyage.
Best travel booking sites
Expedia.ca: From Vegas to Vancouver, Expedia can help you build a trip tailored to you or sign you up for an all-inclusive vacation. Ask many travellers who book online and they will say they do it through this site. You will, as always, find people who aren’t happy with how things went but this company has absolutely established itself as a reliable resource. Reach an Expedia Travel Advisor here.
Vrbo.com: Whether you want a beach house rental, a place with a swimming pool or digs that take dogs, VRBO, which “has a place for everyone,” can hook you up. Houses, condos, cabins — take your pick.
Hotels.com: Free cancellations on most hotels, price guarantee and free reward night if you book 10 nights. Dig deep (we’re talking hotel.com’s ‘secret deals’) and you can find savings on airfare/hotel packages or one or the other. They offer a free night if you book a 10-night stay.
Air Canada: You may not find the best deals, but booking directly with Air Canada can have its perks (though sometimes they have competitive prices). When you book through third-party sites, it could be difficult or infeasible to make alterations to your flight. When you book with Air Canada, you can at least speak directly with the airline. Of course, if you book a non-refundable flight, there’s likely not much that can be done anyways.
WestJet: WestJet may have more competitive prices than Air Canada, but your flight won’t come with as many bells and whistles. Air Canada has superior in-flight entertainment systems and food services.
Agoda.com: Vacation rentals, top Canadian destinations and holiday packages tailored to you. Like many companies, this one does attract some online haters. But we looked beyond that. It’s a legit company that books flights and accommodations worldwide, with a lot turning to Agoda for travels to Asia. Customers love the so-called secret deals (they say you can find it in a tab next to the filtering options) for deep discounts on luxury accommodations. They recently added an activities tab to their site. I searched my city and was impressed. It gave me the attractions one might expect plus info on transportation and a few off-the-beaten path ideas.
Booking.com: This full-service holiday package planner’s main page is full of inspiration and input from fellow travellers. Find hotel accommodations, business apartments, trains, planes, rental cars and airport taxis on this site that seems to do a lot of catering to business travellers, too.
Choice Hotels Canada: Over 7,000 locations globally and more than 2.6 million comments on experiences from travellers who booked through these folks. They can absolutely find you a luxury hotel but many people opt for choice hotels because it’s great at finding budget-friendly places to stay.
Looking for feedback from fellow tourist-types
TripAdvisor: If you have never turned to TripAdvisor and you travel, we can safely say, you absolutely should. The “world’s largest travel platform has more than 859 million reviews and opinions of 8.6 million accommodations, restaurants, experiences, airlines and cruises.” Find out what your fellow travellers think to help you map out your trip.
Maybe worth looking into but be cautious
Priceline: If you do a cursory review of customer feedback on Priceline, you would probably avoid it. But we are not sure it is a write-off. That’s because after looking through hundreds of reviews on various sites, we found that there are many, many people who found great prices and had great things to say about the savings with Priceline. Complaints stem from people finding poor customer service when there were glitches in their travels.
Buyer beware: sites to avoid
Jetcost: We recently had several extremely negative experiences with Jetcost (a platform that we used to use regularly). The last few times we tried booking flights through Jetcost it seems like it was a scam. The first time we purchased flight tickets through the platform for specific dates we immediately received tickets for other dates that we didn’t select. When we spoke to a representative, they said that the flight we purchased was unavailable so they automatically booked us in for different dates.
Cheapair.ca: Sounds too good to be true. And in this case, perhaps it is. We looked into dozens of reviews and found most travellers who booked with this company would never again.
Looking for adventure
Gadventures.com: From Japan to Morocco, Cambodia and Australia, this company has 750 tours available in more than 100 countries. We have friends who love it and the online reviews give G Adventures a thumbs up.
Prefer to drive?
Start where you are and see where the road takes you. Vrbo has some great destination ideas here and find out more to ensure you’re roadworthy and ready-to-go.
Resources to make planning go more smoothly
The Government of Canada’s site has travel information here. And Expedia’s COVID-19 travel resource page here is helpful.
Some budget-friendly tips for booking your next vacation
Highlights from the Airlines Reporting Corporation | Expedia ‘2022 Travel Hacks’
- Domestic flights: for the best prices, book flights 28 to 49 days in advance. The cost starts to increase 35 days prior to departure.
- International flights: for the best prices, book flights three to four months in advance. The cost starts to increase 28 days prior to departure.
- The best day to book your flight is Sunday. You can save about 15 per cent on domestic flights and about 10 per cent on international ones.
- Drive lower prices by being selective about how you do your domestic car rental. Book it on a Thursday to get the lowest prices and start your engines on a Monday to cash in on the best prices.
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