[custom_frame_left] [/custom_frame_left]Summer has officially arrived and for many of us that means it’s time to start planning a vacation! There are a ton of options for planning a fabulous getaway: many people go to the same vacation spot every year, some use travel agents, and some like to complete all the research and do all the planning themselves. Whatever your preferred method of vacation planning, the internet is a wealth of information about destinations, resorts, activities, restaurant reviews, and more.
The amount of available information can make it overwhelming to start planning a vacation. But there are a variety of websites that can do everything for you including research, booking flights, booking hotels, and even planning activities. Best of all, they help you save money by building trip recommendations based on your budget, the time of year you want to travel, and the types of activities you’d like to do.
Some sites’ primary focus is simply providing inexpensive hotel rooms and flights. Hotels.com, Priceline (www.priceline.com), and Hotwire (hotwire.com) do offer complete vacation packages, but their main selling point is that they can allow you to book a hotel room or flight for 40%, 50%, or even as much as 60% off. Often, they offer last minute deals in which you can book rooms at high-end hotels at a steep discount.
For example, I searched Hotwire for a short trip to New York City, leaving Santa Fe on June 29, 2012 and returning on July 2, 2012. For $800 I could fly direct to NYC and stay in the Hotel Pennsylvania, across from Madison Square Garden and Penn Station.
Other sites such as Apple Vacations (www.applevacations.com), Funjet Vacations (www.funjet.com), and Expedia (www.expedia.com), offer more comprehensive services for longer vacations. By simply plugging in information about your trip such as dates and location, these sites will provide you with a variety of flight and hotel choices, reserve a rental car if necessary, and provide information about additional activities.
These sites are user-friendly and carry no additional fees for booking a vacation through them. They also have built-in rating systems, letting you know information about the quality of the resort or hotel and other customers’ experiences. Finally, planning a trip through a site like Apple Vacations, Funjet, or Expedia helps make your planning and traveling as worry-free as possible. These companies often offer services for every step of your trip, including on-site representatives at your resort, transportation to and from the airport, and 24-hour customer service should any issues arise.
So how does it work and what does it cost? I visited Funjet Vacation’s site and searched for an all-inclusive trip to Punta Cana, Dominican Republic, leaving from Santa Fe on June 29, 2012 and returning on July 6, 2012. The first resort the site suggested was the 4-star Gran Bahia Bavaro. The package was all-inclusive which includes airfare, hotel, food, drinks, and transportation during your trip. The resort also offers many free activities including pools, a fitness center, water sports, and more. The grand total for two adults was $3,249.45. Not bad when the price includes everything and once you get there all you have to do is stick your toes in the sand!
I had no difficulty navigating through any of these sites. They were very user friendly and the information I was most interested in – price, rating, amenities, etc – was easy to find. There were also many promotions for some really incredible deals. For example, Expedia was having a “Cruise Sale,” offering a $300 on-board credit. Apple Vacations was offering a 3-night, all-inclusive stay at the Gran Bahia Principe Jamaica, Runaway Bay, for only $599!
Using these sites will help you find incredible deals on a vacation you might think is out of your reach. So whether you’re looking for a relaxing beach vacation, an activity-packed skiing trip, or a sight-seeing tour of Europe, the internet is an incredible resource that will help you research, plan, and enjoy your vacation!