2017 EDITOR'S PICKS
When it comes to travel planning, there are almost as many ways to go as there are travelers. On one end of the scale: intense organizers who examine every detail, contingency, and variable, leaving nothing to chance. On the other end: those who simply pick up the phone, call a travel agent and skip the planning process. Most travelers fall somewhere between the two extremes. Still, when it comes to choosing a seller of travel, the source from which we will buy, not all are created equal. Good news: we can help narrow the search for an engaging travel source with a few clicks.
Online Travel Resources- Review From Time To Time
This topic came up quite by accident when researching travel insurance options, something I do occasionally just to have the most current information available. A big fan of TravelGuard, I buy an annual plan that covers medical expenses but not a cancellation. The basic thought shared by most travelers, especially those who never buy insurance: ‘Unless I am dead, I will be on that cruise’. Medical-only is far less expensive, I had to use it once and the experience was not as painful as I had imagined it would be. On an upcoming trip, Lisa is coming along with me. She does not travel as much so the annual plan did not make sense. Just a click away, Allianz Travel Global Assistance travel protection, a company I had found quite engaging online during a few Twitter chats. Comparing pricing and plans, there was not much difference between the two. Rich online travel resources on the Allianz website and a handy TravelSmart app put them over the top.
Online Travel Resources- Don’t Get Too Comfortable
Frequent travelers on any airline, cruise lines, hotel or rental car company often visit their online resources with great frequency. As I write this, we are days away from flying with American Airlines and I visit their website every single day. On the list for an upgrade, I pretend to be booking the same flights we are already booked on, just to see what is available and get an idea of our chances for that upgrade happening. I know that website like the back of my hand and am quite comfortable navigating it. That familiarity is one reason, albeit a small one, that I like American Airlines. Still, when starting the process of looking for flights, aa.com is not the first stop.
There is a bit of danger in getting too comfortable with just one source. While we may end up there anyway, it’s a good idea to cast a wide net and consider all options. Begin with a search on Kayak, Travelocity or Expedia; some website that appears to consider all sources independently. Then do it again on another similar website as not all are created equal. Some position results favorably to travel companies that pay them more to do so. Frankly, this is one of the best reasons in the world to develop a long-term business relationship with a travel agent, your advocate who has your best interests in mind.
Online Travel Resources: All Are Not Created Equal
A quick example that illustrates the value of online travel resources. Imagine going your first river cruise which is probably not much of a stretch of the imagination. Many of you reading this right now have come here to find out more about that topic. Do this, in this order:
- Google “river cruise AND Budapest to Amsterdam”
- Consider the online travel resources of the top five search results
- Note the rather substantial differences in what each one offers
We commonly recommend against a click-to-by mentality for sourcing travel. That works for easily comparable consumer products and you won’t have to look far here to find references to Amazon Prime as a great online resource. As cruise lines continue to position themselves as different than one another, click-to-buy becomes more the wrong move all the time. Armed with a positive attitude and somewhat flexible schedule, there are no real winners or losers here. Regardless of how they go about it, all can enjoy an enriched life; one of the most common after effects of travel.