Savvy travelers know the best deals are almost always found online.
At a recent New York Times travel show the following sites were getting the best buzz for their new-and-improved technologies, expert editorial advice and essential trip tools.
From deep-discounts for Internet auctions, to new online communities for couch surfers and jet setters, to cell phone plans that actually make sense, check out the services on these popular new sites before you book your next trip.
Thanks to new cutting-edge, search engine technology, Momondo allows users to search almost 500 travel sites and compare results in one legible display. Unlike many aggregator sites, they include major booking engines, national carriers and most low-cost airlines, particularly in Europe.
This Denmark-based service is free, and simply links you to the airline or agency with the best deal, with total price transparency. In addition, Momonodo provides travel inspiration with city guides and advice from users worldwide who blog about their journeys.
Fare alerts make it easier than ever for travelers to find the absolute cheapest rate being offered. Yapta.com is one of the most successful of these fare tracking sites and can help you secure the best airfare deals available on the web.
Simply "tag" your desired itinerary and Yapta will send you an email alert as soon as the price drops. Furthermore, it continues to track prices even after you buy a ticket and could help you get a refund, because most airlines offer a refund or credit if you buy your ticket from their site and later find a cheaper rate.
Another excellent tracking option is Yahoo's FareChase!. Simply download the FareChase! Alerts Widget to you desktop and keep constant track of how rates fluctuate on your desired route.
Luxury Link is one of the web's best sites for travel deals, offering user-friendly auctions on outstanding vacation packages. From an Amazon adventure, to a romantic weekend in Venice, to a golf retreat in Texas, the site sells high-end vacations around the world with lots of enticing extras, such as massages and dinners thrown in.
Luxury Link offers hotel/airfare and hotel only schemes, and are upfront about blackout dates, unlike most travel auction sites. Choose between single auctions (winner takes all), Dutch auctions (multiple packages available), "best shot" auctions (one chance to bid) or fixed-price (buy it now) offers. It's not uncommon to win a vacation for a third of the market value. Conde Nast Traveller named Luxury Link the Best Site for Bidding on Affordable Luxury Hotels for 2008.
From the founder of Town & Country Travel comes a members-based travel community for sophisticated globe-trotters: Indagare.com. The site, which Vanity Fair calls the Best New Travel Website of 2008, gives travelers access to discerning advice from a field of journalists and tastemakers from around the world.
Whether you dream of taking an eco-adventure camel back across the Namib Desert, are looking for the best places to stop for lunch in Rajasthan or to kick back at secluded spas in Sonoma County, Indigare has expert info to guide your journey. They also offer online tools to let you explore by "destination" or by "passion," custom itineraries that you can access from your PDA and booking service. Membership costs $250/year.