My experience is that there isn’t a ton of difference between the various online travel agencies as far as finding hotels and flights. It happens sometimes, but it’s rare to look up a flight on Priceline and then find the price is wildly different on Expedia. For hotels, pick one site — one that allows you to collect points or status, ideally, and stick with it.
In general, I favor Google products because I value speed, and they tend to be pretty reliable. Google Flights is extremely useful for finding different routes for itineraries, and I’ll literally spend hours on it when I’m planning a longer trip. One nice feature is that it will warn you if it thinks a price hike on a flight is imminent, say within the next several hours. ITA Software is a flight search tool that’s more complicated then 95 percent of the population needs, but is useful if you want very particular parameters on your flights (length of stopovers, routing through specific cities, etc.).
In my travels, I often find that the aphorism “less is more” holds true as it relates to technology. I don’t have a super nice camera; I use an old Canon 20D. I have a newish laptop that I enjoy using at home, but when I travel for an extended period of time, I bring an older MacBook from 2010.
There are a few reasons I do this: First, it works totally fine for word processing and web browsing, which are what I spend most of my time doing. More important, it’s not a big deal if it is lost or stolen. (They can go for under $200 on eBay.) Lastly, it has a built-in Ethernet jack, which the new laptop doesn’t have and which comes in handy surprisingly often. I’ve used it during recent trips to Ethiopia and China when wireless internet was unavailable.
What could be better?
One thing I’d like is more accurate reporting on flight status and delays. That has more to do with the airlines than the tools, but I find that aspect of travel tools to be woefully inadequate.
Planning a trip itinerary can be challenging, especially in a country you’ve never visited. What’s your process?
No one source of information is perfect. Firsthand information is best — personal experience, or friends…