How To Book Your Travel

by Updated January 29, 2009

It doesn't seem all that long ago when the only way to make travel bookings was to visit your local travel agent, or ring the travel provider directly.  The only problem was that you really had no detailed information that you could base your choices on, apart from a few glossy travel brochures in the travel agent's office, or perhaps a recommendation from a friend.

Nowadays all of that has changed with the expansion of the Internet.  Just about anything you want to find out, you can search for online and get an answer.  Want to find a nice hotel?  Go online, search for hotels in the area you're interested in visiting, and not only can you find all the basic information such as its location and rates, but quite often there'll be an extensive photo gallery, perhaps even video, so you can really get a feel for what it's like.

The other big advantage of using the Internet to book your travel is simple - comparison shopping.  Yesterday I was looking at going to another city by plane in about two weeks time.  I did a search for "last minute flights", checked out a couple of the top sites, adjusted my dates slightly to see if I could get a better deal - and ended up with flights in each direction that were about 1/4 of the cost of the regular discount fares.  I need to travel with two different airlines, but at that price, do I care?  They both use the same airports, so I don't have to worry about where I park my car.

Of course, you don't have to wait until the last minute to use the Internet to find great deals.  Airlines and hotels are always running promotions and special offers, so if you visit the top travel sites you'll be able to find the sort of thing you're looking for.  Sometimes traveling last minute is an advantage, though, because lots of travel deals are offered at bargain basement prices in the last two weeks before they need to be taken.  This makes sense - a hotel is better off having someone in a room thats typically worth $300 a night, even if they're only paying $50 a night, because if it's vacant they get nothing.

Having said all that, don't forget about travel agents.  The Internet is good for small bookings such as a couple of flights or one lot of accommodation, but if you're planning a more extensive travel itinerary, a travel agent can be enormously helpful.  They can recommend tours that you may be looking for, help you with the complexities of connecting various parts of your travel together, and often have discounts available because of their ability to buy in bulk. 

Traveling is great fun, and if you do your homework and shop around, it's possible to save a substantial amount of money on your travel bookings.  And that's good news, because you will have more to spend while you're on vacation!

 


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