There is no shortage of travel websites to make your life easier or your travels cheaper. But who has the time to keep track of all of them? Here's a short list of travel websites that are worth bookmarking and using for pre-trip research.
All the Rooms: Would you rather stay in a four-star hotel or a private cottage with views and a hot tub? How about a B&B versus a budget-minded hostel? You might not think about all your options unless they were right in front of you. That's why the addition of All the Rooms to the accommodations booking game was so exciting last year. Don't miss clicking the "Amazing" tab — it introduces you to rooms with significant markdowns.
DuoLingo: You don't have to own a smartphone to access this free language learning class. More than 20 million people have signed up to learn Spanish, French, Portuguese, German and Italian. The courses come in bite-size lessons, with a combination of reading, verbal, audio and writing comprehension. There is also a robust community forum and optional translation services.
EatWith: EatWith connects those who want to dine in someone's home with a host, and vice versa.Even if you're not as daring as your friend or spouse, there's a stockpot of photos and reviews to give the more cautious some piece of mind. Available for 13 countries.
Fest300: Founded by hotelier Chip Conley, Fest300 is home to festival experiences around the world. You can search by month, continent or theme, or surprise yourself with pins on a map. What sets this website apart is that Conley adds his personal insight to the festival reviews with "Chip's Take" — "Festivals are great places for our egos to evaporate, our sense of separation to melt, and our feeling of connectedness or 'collective effervescence' to emerge."
GetGoing: GetGoing asks you to select your region, travel dates and number of travelers. Then it offers you an assortment of options for your vacation destination. Narrow the options to two, and GetGoing picks the final one for you. It saves you money by proving that you're traveling for leisure, not business. It also gives you estimated prices for hotel nights at two-, three- and four-star hotels for each destination so you can factor them into your decision.
Groupize: Are you traveling en masse? Groupize helps organizers by allowing them to find and book accommodations for several people across several rooms (with up to six persons to a room) at the same time. I found several hotel options when researching a potential family reunion for 16 in Italy. The site gives you an average cost per night, and you can filter by amenities, distance and price. Fill out information about your group before booking directly with the hotel. Great for family and bachelor parties, board meetings, team trips, weddings and more.
InterSailClub: A dreamy website for travelers who crave vacationing at sea. We're not talking about über-cruise ships with rock-climbing walls. No, this is your chance to sail on small boats and luxury yachts. Join a boat that's only half-filled or fill the cabins with your own group.
Peek: Peek lets you know what activities are available in 19 destinations in the U.S., London and Paris. Search by your travel dates, types of things you like to do — or if you're already on your trip, click on what's available now. Don't miss the "Perfect Days" for insider itineraries and even more trip inspiration. A handy companion app now available for iOS.
PinTrips: Are you sick of having to input your departure and destination information every time you browse a new travel site just to compare prices? PinTrips has a cure. Just create a free account and start searching for flights on one of its 11 flight search options, including Southwest, Virgin America, Delta, Expedia and JetBlue. Once you see a flight you like, "Pin" it, and PinTrips will save it to your dashboard. You can get updated prices for your flight until you're ready to book. And you don't have to retype your dates, departure city, etc., just to check a price.
Rocketmiles and PointsHound: Separate websites that do the same thing: offer you airline miles for hotel bookings. It's hard for me to think of — or use — one without the other. Rocketmiles might offer me more American Airlines AAdvantage Miles for purchasing two nights in New York (or United Mileage Plus Miles that PointsHound doesn't have), but PointsHound now offers mobile-only rewards as well as the option of rewarding you in Bitcoin for your hotel bookings. The competitive shopper compares both sites for the best offer before booking.
Rome2Rio: There's more than one way to get around the world. Book a door-to-door vacation using several modes of transportation, such as air, train, coach, ferry, mass transit and driving options. You can feel your adventure opening up in front of you before you even slap down your credit card. Especially helpful if you have friends in several parts of the world and you're researching prices on how to vacation somewhere in the middle.
Roomer: A win-win hotel website. Roomer lets travelers who are stuck with a hotel room they can't use to sell it to other travelers for a discounted price. One traveler scores a last-minute deal, and the other traveler saves some money after a trip was canceled. You can even sign up to get an alert when Roomer finds a last-minute deal in your desired location. Don't miss the "Amazing Deals" section for rooms up to 58% off. Wow.
RouteHappy: Makes the usual flight booking sites seem archaic. When you search for a flight on RouteHappy, your search results go beyond price to include information on the type of plane you'll be booking, if there's a power plug at your seat, whether it has Wi-Fi, if there's On Demand TV and more.
WhatsBusy: A desktop (and app) solution that lets you know about how long the security line will be at the airport. How does it know in advance? You tell it the day and time you plan on arriving at the airport, and it uses its secret sauce to calculate Transportation Security Administration wait times and historical data to predict your wait when you arrive. It's definitely one to watch, because it also plans to add museums, restaurants, bars, national parks and more.