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Top Travel Web Sites

The December issue of Travel + Leisure magazine features its annual travel Web sites report. The editors have done the legwork to find the 33 best sites out there to help you travel better and more affordably.

Deputy Editor Laura Begley visited The Early Show to highlight some of these sites.

Begley explained that thousands of sites were reviewed to come up with the incredible list of just 33 sites. They are literally the crème de la crème of the online travel world.

The editors are all huge travelers, and they did rigorous testing on their own, plus the magazine polled other travel experts and intrepid travelers.

Begley noted that when every dollar counts, it is more important than ever to have trusted sources to guide you in the right direction. There are more options than ever for finding deals online. The chosen sites don't just rehash what you'd find everywhere else. These are true finds for consumers.

Some highlights from the list:

1. FLIGHTS predicts the ideal moment to buy a ticket.

  • Farecast uses historic pricing data to anticipate whether or not a fare is
    likely to fluctuate in the next week, even providing you with a rating.
  • There are also travel tools, including a section that highlights top airfare
    deals - a recent search turned up a flight from Chicago to Honolulu for $385 on
    specific dates in January. It was listed as a "record low" fare and recommended
    to "act fast." get your money back if the ticket price drops.

  • If you've booked a flight directly through an airline website, Yapta will
    monitor the fare, alert you if the price drops, and instruct you how to get a
    refund from the airline for the difference (yes, it's often possible).
  • calls itself "your amazing personal travel assistant"
  • has a new feature that tracks frequent flyer award tickets

    2. DEALS and aggregator sites that are still the ultimate source for deals on airfares, hotels and car rentals.

  • These two aggregators (now both owned by Kayak) are still the ultimate source
    for deals on airfare, hotels, and car rentals.
  • Their new Flight Quality tool highlights itineraries with long layovers or
    short connection times.
  • The Every Hotel on Earth (EHOE) program allows users to search a database of 130,000 properties by amenities and location. for package deals, one week out.

  • The site's Last-Second Deals tab allows you to search, by destination and
    date, a list of packages that include reduced rates for flights, hotels, and
    car rentals.
  • You can search for deals by area of interest, such as "sun & beach" or "ski."
  • A recent search turned up a trip from New York to Miami with 2-nights hotel
    (including air) from $301 /person - it was for a departure the next weekend!

    3. HOTELS pinpoint the best rooms to stay in (and which to avoid) in 450 hotels across the country.

  • Get the floors to avoid and the suites not to miss in 450 hotels across the
    United States.
  • You can compare rooms based on noise level, view, location, and bathroom
  • In the coming year, the site will expand to include hotels in Europe, South
    America, Mexico, and the Caribbean.

    4. CAR TRAVEL avoid roadblocks and identify the fastest routes.

  • Identify the fastest, most direct routes -- taking into account speed limits and
    delay times in more than 100 U.S. cities.
  • Real-time data is used for info on roadwork, car accidents, and even
    traffic camera locations.

    5. GROUP TRAVEL let everyone share in the planning.

  • Get all your friends or family members on the same page-literally.
  • Everyone can have an equal share in the planning, thanks to a personalized
    Web site that lets you create to-do lists, chat on private message boards, and
    build day-by-day itineraries.
  • The site also has recommendations for group trips in a variety of categories,
    such as girlfriend getaways and sporting events

    6. VACATION RENTALS check out over 50,000 listings, complete with photos and ratings from previous renters.

  • All 50,000-plus listings feature photos, Google-powered maps, and ratings and reviews from previous renters.
  • Destinations featured include the U.S., Mexico, the Caribbean, and Europe.
  • Aor example, a recent search pulled up over 1,000 listings in Hilton Head, S.C., with rates as low as $53/night.
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