Tech Tips: Kayak — The all-in-one travel deal finderWritten by Carrie Rathsack | | firstname.lastname@example.org
As the days get longer and the air teases us with occasional warmth, are you finding yourself dreaming of a getaway? Problem is, your budget is probably as tight as it’s ever been, right? Then you might want to try out Kayak, the “one-stop-shop” for all your travel needs. Over the last couple years, friends, colleagues and I have used Kayak primarily for finding the cheapest airline tickets, but you can also search for deals on hotels, rental cars, cruises and more.
Most people who frequent the Internet for shopping or travel needs have heard of or used Travelocity, Expedia, Hotels.com, or Orbitz (or is that the gum?!?!) Anyway, the reason why you’ve heard of these is because they advertise, which simply means they spend money that could otherwise go toward saving you more money! In other words, Kayak works to find you the best deal anywhere since it searches Travelocity, Orbitz, as well as online airlines, rental cars, and cruise lines sites.
From the About page:
“Kayak was started by founders of Orbitz, Travelocity and Expedia who believed in a better online travel experience. They hired a crack team of geeky engineers who brought expertise from all over the Web… Along the way, Kayak redefined the way people search and purchase travel online.”
Kayak works by searching over 140 travel sites at once. After you type in your search request, Kayak comes up with the best deals for you at the given time… showing a time bar of its progress as you wait so you know about how long the search will take (not just a revolving wheel or sequence of blinking dots that could cycle toward infinity). Once you find your deal, you click to go to that site to make the final purchase (Kayak does not do the selling).
Some key features making Kayak a nicely organized travel deal-finder, include:
- a simple, clean design/layout — easy for computer beginners or experts;
- many options for displaying your results… thankfully, unlike other travel sites, it sorts the results by price, since that’s REALLY what all of us are primarily looking for today, rather than “featured” (or sponsored/paid for by “them”) results;
- a calendar that pops up showing alternative days and bargain prices in the month you’re traveling for the flexible traveler;
- an options bar on the left provides multiple ways to fine tune your search (non-stop, 1-stop, airlines, time of departure or arrival, and even the aircraft type for those who are eery of smaller planes);
- ads (like most “free” sites) at the top and right margins, but they are fairly innocuous — feel free to click them if you you like (that’s how Kayak makes some money);
- an option for email alerts (not new or unique, but awfully handy to get the best price if you’re online quite a bit); you must sign up, though, but again, it’s free and no spam;
- an option to show a matrix of airlines, number of stops, and fare (like Expedia);
- a fare history chart showing the average prices for flights on all days of the selected month, which is very helpful for flexible travelers – in my case, on average, I could save over $100 by leaving on the 20th rather than the 23rd; this feature alone is nice to learn about pricing trends, with Tuesdays and Wednesdays most often being the best days to look for prices online; and last, but not least…
- it’s easy to use, view, and change options, but not overly busy or difficult to read with excessively small text.
Two other features are “Deals” and “Buzz.” If your travel plans are flexible, try “Deals” or if you have a set budget but no destination in mind, try “Buzz”, which gives you some ideas on where to travel next with or without a dollar limit. In my case, with $1500 to spare, the “Buzz” told me I could take a September trip to Dublin, Frankfurt, Amsterdam, Lisbon, or Naples, and in some cases, have money left over for food, drink, and a place to stay!
With Toledo Express so close and convenient, finding ways out of the Glass City for the lowest price possible can now be as easy as a visit to Kayak and a few clicks… just be sure to come back soon — the Mud Hens season opener is just around the corner!
What is your favorite travel site?