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See the world on a budget with these great travel websites

Merriam-Webster defines travel as “going from one place to another, as on a trip or journey.” While relatively straightforward in definition, people all over the world fulfill their idea of a trip or journey in many unique ways. Some, for instance, like to travel within state lines to a nearby city for their ideal getaway, while others would prefer to strap on a 42-pound backpack and trek through distant and foreign lands for months on end to appease their appetite for adventure.

Related: The world can be your oyster with these 15 great travel apps

Regardless of your choice, the ideal getaway is likely littered with questions. What are the cheapest flights to my destination? What’s the best way to get there? Once I’m there, where will I stay and how will eat? How do I know if the hotel I’m booking is safe or legit? What on earth will I do once I’ve made it to my destination?

To help you keep all your ducks in a row when planning your next vacation we’ve searched high and low for the best travel resources across the World Wide Web. We’ve got you covered, whether you’re looking for a cheap flight, a comfy bed to crawl in to each night, or a lengthy list of activities to fill your daily itinerary.

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The best travel sites for finding a way to get there

You’ve selected a destination, requested the time off work, and now it’s time to start planning. The first step is finding the best way to travel from Point A to Point B. A variety of airfare websites exist across the Internet devoted to finding the cheapest flights, yet so few of them deliver actual cheap airfare. Hidden fees, expensive bag costs, and blackout dates plague many an airline rendering those “cheap” flights quite the opposite. That said, take a look at our favorite sites for booking flights below to avoid spending the bulk of your travel budget on simply getting there.

Kayak (Android/iOS/Windows Phone)

Kayak

Kayak

Kayak is an excellent all-around resource for finding hotels, cheap flights, rental cars, and vacation packages. You can search through hundreds of different sites within a single interface, helpings you scour Web for the most affordable packages. The site performs searches in real-time so you’ll never encounter expired deals, and all the taxes and fees show up in the resulting airfare prices.

As is the case with most sites, the more flexible you are the more apt you are to finding a good deal. However, even with a little tinkering of Kayak’s filters, it’s easy to find a preferred travel package suitable for any kind of budget. It also lets you select your preferred flight time, the kind of weather you wish to travel to, and the kind of entertainment you’re looking for at your destination. Kayak’s innovative new Explore feature even lets you set a per-ticket budget and scan a world map to see the locations compatible with your price range.

Skyscanner (Android/iOS/Windows Phone)

Skyscanner

Skyscanner

Like Kayak, Skyscanner searches through a bevy of websites and airlines to bring you dirt cheap airfare. It differs from Kayak, though, in that it tends to find the cheapest flights of any site on the Web. What’s more, Skyscanner helps you find good rates on hotels and rental cars no matter where you travel. Sky scanner also helps you easily change the duration of your trip, your departure date, and how many stops you desire before updating fares accordingly. The site offers a series of  “Travel Tips & Inspiration,” providing readers with insight regarding various cities and destinations. The articles are perfect for planning a weekend getaway, or merely finding a bit of entertainment while on the road for work.

Expedia (Android/iOS/Windows Phone)

Expedia

Expedia

A partner of Hotels.com — another popular site on our roundup — Expedia makes finding inexpensive flights a breeze. With the ability to add multiple destinations, Expedia lets you plan a multi-city vacation without the hassle of booking separate flights for each individual destination. It even provides cruise information, rental car deals, and vacation packages within a single hub, helping diminish the need to look elsewhere for the rest of your vacation planning. Moreover, Expedia’s “Things to Do” tab helps plan out your itinerary and offers information on the best places to visit upon arriving at your destination. Still, it’s Expedia’s one-stop-shop convenience that makes it one of the best travel sites on the Web.

Orbitz (Android/iOS/Windows Phone)

Orbitz

Orbitz

Orbitz is a jack-of-all-trades when it comes to finding hotels, airfare, and rental car services with a single site. It even gives users the ability to search through a variety of activities based on the places they visit. Traveling to Anaheim with the family and need Disneyland tickets? Orbitz has you covered, while offering special deals that let you get the most out of your trip. Its rewards program awards frequent users with up to 5 percent back on hotel stays and up to 2 percent back on flights, and with both silver and gold reward levels, avid and moderate travelers both have the ability to benefit using Orbitz.

Airfarewatchdog (iOS)

AirfareWatchdog

Airfarewatchdog

If you love finding a good deal, and have a flexible schedule, Airfare Watchdog is the site for you. The site’s employees and analysts search the Internet for the best possible deals on airfare and then make them available to their customers. As soon as a fare sale gets posted, users receive email alerts and have the ability to immediately book the flight. You also have the option to select your home airport and see the best deals on some of the top cities in the world. Though you can set flight alerts for a particular destination, the site truly works the best when you remain open-minded regarding where and when you want to go.

Momondo (Android/iOS)

Momondo

Momondo

Momondo scans hundreds of websites for the best deal much like Skyscanner, yet we’ve found the former site works best when traveling in Europe. Unlike some of the more popular sites on this list, Momondo also searches through charter and low-budget airlines when looking for low-cost fares. The site presents color-coded results depending on which days you choose, while offering the ability to easily view which days during the week airfare is cheaper or more expensive. Its “Inspiration” tab even features articles and insight from around the world, helping you plan your next adventure with plenty of pertinent information at your disposal.

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Best travel sites for finding a place to stay

With the transportation element out of the way, the next step is finding a decent place to catch some ZZZs. No matter if your vacation is of the international or domestic variety, finding a good place to sleep each night tends to resemble playing the lottery. You book a hotel which looks exotic and glamorous, yet when you arrive it’s nothing more than a glorified Motel 6. Take matters in to your own hands with our picks of the best hotel-booking sites around.

Related: 9 travel photo tips for capturing the best images to satisfy your inner wanderlust

Oyster (iOS)

Oyster

Oyster

If you’re looking for honest, no hold reviews and ratings for specific hotels, look no further than Oyster. All the site’s reviews and photos come directly from Oyster employees, so you know exactly what to expect from any hotel you book. You won’t find a comprehensive selection of locations, but the site still manages to cover a wide range of cities with new locations added regularly. Though somewhat novel, Oyster’s Photo Fakeouts also represent one of the site’s best features to date. The revealing fakeouts display prepared photos from various hotesl alongside those captured by an actual Oyster employee. The results? It appears as though not everything is as it seems with even the fanciest of hotels across the world.

AirBnb (Android/iOS/Windows Phone)

AirBnB

AirBnb

When AirBnB launched in 2008 it revolutionized the way people rented rooms while traveling. Hosts offer potential guests spare rooms in their home, or their entire house for that matter, while providing plenty of pictures and relevant information to make you feel comfortable before you book your stay. The service boasts more than 350,000 hosts, who surprisingly manage to offer up an astounding 500,000 different rentals. Moreover, given the site’s continued expansion, anyone can see how much money they could potentially earn if they decide to put up their own home as a listing. With a bevy of affordable options spanning locations around the globe, you’ll wonder why you ever bothered staying at regular hotels in the first place.

Hotels.com (Android/iOS/Windows Phone)

Hotels.com

Hotels.com

Hotels.com remains one the best resources for avid travelers still keen on staying in a hotel, even more than two decades after its initial debut. Not only does the site search more than 200,000 locations, but its Deal of the Day promotions provide screaming sales on a variety of rooms dispersed throughout the globe.

Traveling on a whim? The Last Minute Deals function even provides quick, cheap matches regarding available rooms in your desired location during a specified time. Those who often travel will also want to enroll in Hotels.com’s Welcome Rewards program, a service in which you earn a free night’s stay for every 10 nights you book at any location. Don’t worry about getting skimped on the deal, either. Hotels.com averages the daily rate for your previous 10 nights, allowing you to spend your free night in a premium room equal to the average.

TripAdvisor (Android/iOS/Windows Phone)

TripAdvisor

TripAdvisor

Though not a booking-specific site, TripAdvisor is your best friend when it comes to finding helpful lodging reviews. The site scours various hotels, bed and breakfasts, and vacation rentals, conveniently alerting you of special deals in a variety of locations. You also can view both guest and professional reviews when selecting a lodging option, so you’ll always have access to everyday and expert opinions no matter where you plan on staying. Furthermore, TripAdvisor shows competitive pricing from a plethora of similar travel sites, such as Hotels.com and Expedia, making the process of finding a cheap stay even easier. You may occasionally run into a hotel-generated review, but they’re typically easy to spot considering hotels frequently doll out five-star ratings for their own establishments or supply negative reviews of their competitors. Stick to looking at the mid-range ratings for the most accurate, realistic reviews on the site.

Priceline (Android/iOS/Windows Phone)

Priceline

Priceline

When you’re looking for the cheapest hotel rates at the last possible minute, William Shatner and Priceline will undoubtedly set you up. With the ability to “Name Your Own Price,” Priceline often finds hotel rates at a fraction of what they’d cost you to book directly. It’s not even far-fetched to find a four or five-star hotel for less than $100 per night. The simple bidding process allows you to control how much you want to pay for a room, and if you win your desired bid, the hotel will automatically charge your card. However, the downside is you won’t know the exact hotel you book until after the reservation is complete. Booking without first knowing where you’re staying may potentially pose an issue, especially if you are unfamiliar with the particular area you’re visiting, but Priceline remains one of the best options for booking luxury hotels at the price point of a Motel 6.

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