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Travel companies we look up to

March 26, 2011

These days smartphones help travelers with tons of free travel apps for iPhone/iPod/iPad and Android phones that help you with the itineraries, bookings and a bunch of other features and utilities. But if you prefer to use the internet on your desktop computers then we have a list of links for various categories and here are some travel resources and companies we look up to:


Kayak

Kayak

When it comes to searching for the best fares for car rentals, hotels or flights, Kayak has always been our first preference. Of course one can argue that there are many websites that can give competitive rates, but Kayak goes a few steps ahead and give more than that. Their smartphone app(s) is super-friendly and lets you add your itineraries, setup price alerts, track flights in real-time, one-touch calling directory for all the airlines, and much more.

Lonely Planet

Lonely Planet

Their guidebooks are one of the best found amongst hundreds of others. They are on Twitter, other forms of social media and on smartphones. Mostly, we find their guidebooks better laid out than other travel guides. Everyone has their own preferences of guidebooks and Lonely Planet ones are ours. There are times in the past when Lonely Planet have offered free city guides for smartphones when disaster has struck areas of the world, which helps stranded travelers guide through the cities they may be in.

Hostel Worldwide

Hostel Worldwide

Traveling cheap and budget accommodation is what people constantly look for. Many backpackers would sleep in a barn if it was the cheapest accommodation around, but some of us prefer to have a roof on our heads. Hostels around the world offer cheap accommodation and cuts down the travel cost. Hostel Worldwide now features campsites, self catering accommodation, B&B’s and budget hotels and currently lists over 24,000 properties in more than 180 countries. Apart from being available in 23 languages and offering multi currency billing, they have an online travel store where customers can avail of great offers and exclusive discounts across the globe when buying travel insurance, guidebooks, mobile SIM cards and an app for iPhone.

Other websites offering similar services are: Hostelbookers, Hostels.com

Couchsurfing

Couchsurfing

One of the best ways to get free accommodation is by staying with someone who lives where you’re going. You can save a lot on accommodation by connecting with locals on Couchsurfing. People offer their bed, couch, or just a space in their homes. It makes a lot of travelers nervous initially to couchsurf, wondering if it’s safe. But there are a lot of reasons not to because the people who would open their homes to strangers tend to be very open minded people and are usually former travelers too. Couhsurfing website provides various tips on safety by levels of verification and allow users to rate and leave comments on traveler’s profiles.

Moreover, there are other sites that do the same thing – Global Freeloaders, Hospitality Club, Stay4Free, and the original, Servas. They each market to a different audience. Couchsurfing is more for the young backpacker set while Servas and Hospitality Club are for an older, more family oriented/couple crowd.

We have tried a lot of travel insurance companies – TravelSafe, Travelex, etc. – but the one that has given the best rates and excellent customer service is World Nomads. They sell for Access America, which is the actual company that pays out claims. Apart from offering competitive rates on your travel insurance, World Nomads has a great reputation for getting involved with claims and helping travelers with their needs. They are very active and supportive of the blogging community.

With 2 miles per dollar on every purchase, a one-time bonus of 10,000 miles once you spend $1,000 in the first 3 months
Your miles will not expire and the best of all – no foreign transaction fees, this makes our preferred credit card for travelers. Although there’s a $59 annual fee, which is waived for the first year, there’s no limit to the miles you can earn. Their transaction rates are a bit higher than others, but overall you may spend less on your purchases if you remove the foreign transaction fees.

These days booking websites lets you pick seats, but not all of them have layouts of all the aircrafts. Seat Guru lets you see the layout and configuration of all the airplanes in the world. It is definitely worth using, especially if you’re trying to look for seats with extra leg-room or best recline. The website provides detailed seat-map graphics with color-coding to help identify “superior and substandard seats”. Some airlines also have in-seat power port and Seat Guru will locate those.

As we mentioned earlier, on your next travel, you’re more likely to transit through an airport if your trip involves multiple stops. Apart from the connections, most travelers worry about the time it will take them to transfer from one terminal to the other. So before you leave, a little research in to the airport layout will reduce frustration during the time you switch from one plane to the next. Gate Guru does just that. Their iPhone app is easy to use and worth downloading for best restaurants, shopping areas and service options on the airport you selected.

With a whole bunch of travel-booking websites out there, Priceline.com gets a special mention from us for their “Name you price” feature. Just name the price for the hotel, flight or car rental service you are looking for and the website may just offer you that. Of course there are some downsides to it, like the price you named for a flight booking may result in a multi-stop trip on a not-so-popular airline, but there are times when we have booked a rental car for just $8 a day, all inclusive!



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