I travel a lot. When I ‘m on a tight schedule and need to know all my options, getting all available flights by time and a cost across multiple airlines in one place is invaluable. For business and personal travel, Kayak and TripAdvisor are two of my favourite travel resources for doing multiple-airline flight searches. You pick your dates of travel and desired departure and/or arrival times, and these sites give you a searchable and sortable list of available flights from most of the major airlines. I find Kayak and TripAdvisor tend to give very similar results, although sometimes one will give you flights options the other doesn’t. I always confirm flight options and fares on the actual airline sites – on occasion other options are presented, and sometimes they are cheaper.
This summer I went to Europe with my family. This involved checking all sorts of flights online and through a travel agent. The travel agent was helpful for answering my many questions about travel to Europe. And while TripAdvisor and Kayak didn’t give me some of the cheaper charter options the travel agent offered me, I found that these two sites gave virtually identical flight times and cost information for scheduled commercial flights options he offered to me.
Hotel reviews are the other great source of information from TripAdvisor and Kayak. While I usually don’t have to pick a hotel when I am attending or speaking at a conference, for personal travel there are always hotel choices to be made. Online reviews from real hotel guests can be helpful, but navigating large numbers of reviews can be tricky, especially when they are inconsistent. A few really nasty reviews can leave a strong impression, but not always the most accurate one. My rule of thumb is to look at the overall consensus – what did the majority of the reviewers say? Where most people happy enough to stay there again or would they look for another place next time? Looking at the overall consensus has tended to give me hotel stays that I have been happy with. And for some more great tips on navigating hotel reviews on TripAdvisor and similar sites, see Using TripAdvisor? Some Advice, an article that appeared on the A New York Times’ Frugal Traveler Blog.