Making travel reservations to go to Europe isn’t as difficult as you may think. Over the last decade more travelers book their travel online than go through travel agents. There is controversy as to what benefits travel agents may offer over using the web sites. Travel agents can monitor prices allowing them to know when prices drop. However, if you do not want to spend the time shopping online and are more confident using a travel agent, that may be the best thing for you to do.
What can you do online. You can look up, find general information, read reviews and book for;
- Booking Flights with airlines
- Accommodations for Hotels, Hostels and other overnight or resort reservations
- Transit and Rail Passes
- Tours for Day Trips, Free Walking, Small Group, Exclusive Entry, Complete Pre-plan and Inclusive
- Cruises & Ferries
- Car Rentals
- Restaurant Reservations
- Tourism Cards for Cities, Museum and Attractions
- Documentation for Visa’s, ID’s , etc.
- Travel Insurance
Shopping online for these services can save you money by using some of the tools on their web sites. Some will offer the lowest prices when you book at their sites. Booking directly with the provider will show you discounts and additional services as well as, important up front information that could save you time and money.
When shopping make sure you know the price is in US dollars and not Euro’s, Pounds or other foreign currency. If the services are only sold in another currency make sure you know if they will charge you an additional foreign transaction fee when using your credit card. This will be more common when booking tickets directly to local attractions that only do business in their local currency. You should find this a problem when booking flights, hotels or car rentals, especially from travel web sites.
Travel Web Sites…
Many companies that offer travel services own and operate their own web sites. The airlines, hotels, car rental companies, rail lines, bus operators, tour companies, etc., run their own web sites where you can shop for and make reservations. You’ll find many of the these web sites listed under our group page for that category. If you are a frequent customer you may find additional benefits in participating in their traveler programs. Some of these benefits may only be passed on to you by using and booking through their web reservation system. You find many company web sites listed on the appropriate travel pages.
There are two primary forms of travels sites. OTA (Online Travel Agencies) and Aggregate or Metasearch Sites…
OTA (Online Travel Agencies) sites perform just like a travel agent, searching multiple airlines, hotels, car rentals, etc., to find and locate services for the lowest price. This allows you the opportunity to comparative shop multiple web sites at one time. Want to search for the cheapest fare, just a non-stop flight, a 3 star hotel in the city center, some sites will allow you to search for your specific requests by using filters.
You might not be able to use your mileage or points to book free flights or rooms at these sites. You’ll need to redeem those directly at the issuing company’s web site. In some instances you will not receive your miles or credits with your reward programs when booking through these sites. Check and verify the information so you know if you’ll receive credit or not. Some of these sites also have their own rewards programs so, you’ll receive credits or cash on their rewards program when booking through their web site. You will only be able to redeem those credits or cash with future bookings through their web site.
Aggregate or metasearch web sites scan data from multiple sites and sources and will display prices and availability for you view in one place. This gives you the opportunity to comparative shop for airlines, hotels, rental cars and more, without going to multiple web sites. The main difference is they search not only company sites but, travel agency sites for the best pricing, location or recommendation.
Once you make a selection these sites take you directly to the company or travel site where you do the actual booking. Make sure you know who you are actually booking through so you can confirm all bookings are complete and legitimate.