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Choose an Online Travel Agent

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The Internet's top booking sites are so good, they'll get you where you want to go and probably save you money, too.
Difficulty: Average
Time Required: an hour

Here's How:

  1. Acquaint yourself with the major reputable online travel agents (see "related features" below).
  2. Devise a dream trip: Pick when you'd like to go, and where.
  3. Test the site's flight tool to see what kind of fare it returns.
  4. Note if the site brings up alternate flights and prices. (Sometimes you can save a lot of money by flying on a different day.)
  5. Create a simple chart to track how several different sites perform.
  6. Evaluate how easy it is to get hotel information and rates.
  7. Call the site's customer-service department with a specific question, and decide how helpful the person on the other end is.
  8. Subscribe to one or two free newsletters published by online travel agents, and stick with the one you like the best.
  9. Acquaint yourself with the site's extra features, such as paging services, mileage benefits, vacation selection, special offers, etc.

Tips:

  1. Don't feel as if you have to use one site exclusively.
  2. Always compare fares and offers between at least two sites before buying anything.

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