"We want to go somewhere tropical and luxurious.... any ideas?" Mu-Hsien asked me the other day.
"Beginning of August."
"WHAT!? And only now you're asking for IDEAS?" I'm a super planner, at the moment I'm thinking about a weekend away next March, so clearly I was shocked and appalled at this nonchalant treatment of the most sacred thing on earth...travel.
In a knee jerk reaction I immediately invited Mu to my favorite sites for booking travel.
After a day of browsing Mu-Hsien dismissed Caribbean as being to risky for stormy weather in August, Asia as being simply too far for an impromptu week-long escape, California and Florida as not "exotic" enough, Canada not tropical enough, and Hawaii a tad over the budget for the uber sexy and romantic accommodation that she envisioned.
Dilemma seems to have only intensified and Mu-Hsien once again proved that she really should have been born a princess.
I told her that there is only one place where someone like her can be helped... and that is at a travel agency.
"A travel agency!?" exclaimed Mu-Hsien amused. "Do those still exist?"
While Mu-Hsien is seeking wisdom and guidance at a Travel Agency, I thought I'd share with you all my favorite sites for travel booking and inspiration in hopes that you never to get caught without a travel idea and perhaps help you unleash that travel buying trigger finger!
This is my absolute first stop when I look for any accommodation. Booking.com, a Dutch company, lists not only hotels, but also B&B's, design hotels, villas and apartments from all over the world. The real gem however is in the reviews. For most accommodations you are likely to find hundreds of reviews. You can even filter reviewers by families, mature or young couples, single travelers or groups. I use Booking.com to book just about all of my accommodation if where I'm going does not require me buying a plane ride.
Everyone is familiar with expedia. I use it in situation when I need a simple flight + hotel combination. Many times I have concluded that the price on expedia really can't be beat any other way. I've even used it for some far away business trips. This is also great for last minute getaways and when you're flexible about your destination. TIP: If you're outside of the US, expedia will automatically redirect you to the local site with local currency. Be sure to click back to expedia.com and purchase in USD. For some reason listings in USD prices are almost always LESS EXPENSIVE.
The next three picks are member sites. Sort of your Rue La La but for travel. There you'll find unbelievable discounts on super luxurious hotels, resorts and trips. Yes, I'd put most of these into the splurge category but if used wisely they could really lead you to a STEAL. I use these as follows:
- Sexy hotel night stay right in your own city - you know, for celebrating something special, or just for a quicky romantic get away without traveling far.
- When booking a week or longer holiday I always like to include at least few indulgent hotel nights either to start or end your vacation with. If you're booking via another site, or a travel agent you can always exclude a few nights of hotel bookings and reserve something extravagant on your own.
- Inspiration!!! These sites really give you a nice bite sized introduction to some non-mainstream travel destinations or simply places that might not be on your radar. Many times the deals on these sites are still a bit over my budget but supplied with some inspiration I simply looks for a different option in the same area. Besides, you do know that most of these incredible resorts and hotels can be enjoyed for the day? That's right! Sleep next door at a more 'realistically priced' place and in the morning simply stroll on over to spend the day at the grandiose pool of the neighboring resort. Sometimes you'll have to pay for a day pass, and sometimes just having breakfast or lunch there will get you in for the whole day! I know, I know, you love me...
I absolutely love LOVE! their online magazine. With features like "72 hours in...", "Your Hot Summer in...", "Top Ten..." you'll be feverishly scribbling all over your travel list.
This site has some really unbelievable deals not only on famous large hotels, but also on really gorgeous small design hotels. You can also see reviews from other members that have stayed there.
This is really three sites in one, presented by Travel+Leisure. I particularly find Family Getaway very interesting because it makes it easy to book trips specifically with kids in mind. The site already takes into account that you'll need those fun extras like cots, Kids clubs with furry characters, pools with slides and so on. You can also bid on vacations and see if you can get even a bigger discount.
Here Are Your Personal Invites!
*When you sign-up you can spread the love by inviting your friends and receive a nifty little bonus if your friends book travel.
• • • WHAT ABOUT YOU? • • •
What's your favorite travel booking website?
Do you also have a travel agent on speed dial?
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