You might be using Expedia or Orbitz to plan your vacation (if you're taking one) this year, but there are some lesser-known travel search sites that could help you plan a better and less expensive trip. These sites will still help you plan your vacation, but they do it in a slightly different way that should help you save some cash.
Unlike Expedia, Orbitz, Cheaptickets, and countless other popular travel search sites, Fly.com doesn't require you to buy airline tickets on its pages. Once you input where you're leaving from and where you're going, the site finds flights from the airlines themselves. After you pick your flight, Fly.com redirects you to the airline's site where the fares might be a little cheaper. You can buy the flight directly from the airline.
Fly.com adds another layer to flight search by redirecting you to a different site. But by simultaneously searching through all the airlines and eliminating any hidden fees imposed by travel search sites, you should be able to save money with each trip by using Fly.com. I have.
Hotelicopter should save you some money, since it finds results from over 30 different travel planning sites across the Web. Once you input a destination city, the site returns a list of hotels in that area. You can get information about the hotels and pick which place is best for you. Like Fly.com, Hotelicopter doesn't handle the booking itself, so it will redirect you to the site with the best deal.
Hotelicopter might not be as convenient as services where you can find and book hotels without leaving the site, but in this economy, saving every last dime counts. And based on my experience with the service, Hotelicopter will help you find you a great deal. It's a fine alternative to more popular travel search sites.
TravelPost, which is owned by Kayak.com, searches through hundreds of travel search sites to find you the best deals on domestic and international hotels. It also features user reviews, so you can gain insight from those who have already stayed at a respective hotel.
When you search for a destination on TravelPost, the site delivers a list of hotels. Once you read the hotel reviews and decide where you want to stay, TravelPost gives you the option to check rates for specified dates. It uses the Kayak.com rate search tool to find the prices on those hotels. It searches through Hotels.com, Priceline, and individual hotel sites to find you the best deal. Once you pick the deal you want, you'll be brought to Kayak.com's hotel information page to give you one last chance to decide if you really want to stay at that hotel. If you do, you can click the link redirecting you to the site offering the best price.
Using TravelPost was a bit more trying than the other sites in this roundup. You're redirected to too many pages and it takes too long to book your stay. That said, I found that its cost savings were the best of any site in this roundup.
UpTake doesn't just let you search for individual hotels in the U.S. Instead, UpTake lets you search for the type of hotel you're looking for using semantic search technology.
When you first get to UpTake.com, you'll notice that it doesn't feature a simple destination search field like the others. UpTake asks what you're looking to do in the first search box and where you want to go in the second search field. For example, if you want to enjoy a romantic getaway with your significant other in Aspen, you can input "romantic" in the first search box and "Aspen, CO" in the second search box. UpTake will then search 5,000 sites from across the Web to find romantic hotels in Aspen. Each listing has recommendations based on traveler opinions UpTake gathers from those sites. You can also search for the best rates on sites like Priceline and Kayak.com.
UpTake is still in beta, so you might find the site a bit slow. When I was using it, it took quite a while to find hotels. But once I was brought to the results page, I was able to perform research more effectively than on other services. More importantly, it found good deals.