Top 12 Blogs For Travel Bloggers

This is a list of creative travel blogs that I read and follow. They are written by independent travel writers, the list include those that I consider as heavy-weights in travel blogging. These bloggers are associated with large travel sites/blogs but their focus is on living a unique life (getting to see the world around them) and be an insightful writers. All of them are fun and inspirational to read.

Blog: Everything-Everywhere

Writer: Gary Arndt

Gary has been on the road since 2007 as a professional traveller. On the blog you’ll find interviews with leading figures in the industry like Laura Bly from BlyOnTheFly.com. The posts are factual yet personal as they include Gary’s insights and reasons for visiting each of the destinations. Everything-Everywhere is the top travel blogger on Twitter according to its Klout score.

Most recent post: This Week In Travel – Episode 152

Blog: Nomadic Matt

Writer: Matt Kepness

Matt offers practical and tactical advice about how to travel better, cheaper and longer. The blog gives down-to-earth details about the best ways to explore the world. The blog is more of a collection of useful tips rather than a chronicle of Matt’s adventures although there is a travel guide section with info gathered from Matt’s travels since 2004. The site includes videos and a list of resources.

Most recent post: How To Travel Anywhere For Free

Blog: Go-See-Write

Writer: Michael Hodson

Travelling since 2008 he circumvented the globe without getting on a plane. The blog includes Michael’s adventures and experiences as he goes through each of the travel destinations. Dubai travel is included in the long list of destinations you can read about and there is a section of travel destination tips. The blog is a personal journey of a solo adventurer exploring the world.

Most recent post: Visiting One of the World’s Highest Lakes

Blog: Fox Nomad

Writer: Anil Polat

Chosen by the Huffington Post as one of the top travel writers to watch Anil is a full time traveller but a gadget geek as well, so the focus of the blog is often on the technical aspect of travel. He often visits countries which are off-the-beaten-track and gives practical advice about how to cope in places like Yemen and Iraq. On the blog you’ll find destination tips, tech posts, resources and insights into green travel and culture.

Most recent post: The Landmarks To Look Out For When Flying Into Istanbul

Blog: Legal Nomads

Writer: Jodi – A former Lawyer from Montreal

She has been travelling and eating her way around the world since 2008 and the blog focuses on food, culture and her adventures. One of the plus points about this travel writer’s blog is that it is ad-free (except for Amazon links) which makes it a very clean-cut blog to look at. This is a good blog to watch if you’re into food related travel, the blog is on the MSN list of top travel blogs.

Most recent post: Thrillable Hours: Doug Barber, Co-Founder of Minaa

Blog: Almost Fearless

Writer: Christine Gilbert

One of the top ranking travel & leisure blogs written by a mother traveling with her family since 2008, this blog has beautiful photography and the blend of family, self and travel. The family travel focus can be seen by the blog sections – life, kitchen, photos and kids. You’ll find some useful destination tips but more general life insights.

Most recent post: How I Spent 10 Years To Get Where I Started

Blog: Camels and Chocolates

Writer: Kristin Luna

One of the top travel writer blogs according to Elliott.org and other “top” lists due to the well written text. The writer is a professional journalist, has interviewed the stars and in addition is a travel addict. She covers a long list of travel destinations recording her adventures with the occasional travel destination tip thrown in. The blog boasts many photos of the travel writer in the various travel destinations.

Most recent post: Photo Friday: Columbus, Ohio

Blog: Johnny Vagabond

Writer: Wes

Another of the Huffington Post picks for best travel writer blogs, the charm of this blog is in the well written descriptions of the writer’s adventures. Wes is traveling around the world on a tight budget and taking brilliant pictures as he goes. The writing is engaging, intelligent and entertaining as well as giving you plenty of info about the travel destinations.

Most recent post: A Love Letter from the Philippines

Blog: 48 Hour Adventure

Writer: Justin Morris

A very useful and highly practical blog where each post is dedicated to a 48 hour plan of what to see and do in various travel destinations. What makes this travel & leisure blog standout is its no-nonsense usable quality. You’ll find a “48 hours in Dubai” post if you’re interested in Dubai travel, listing sites, how to get around, orientation and plenty of large photos.

Most recent post: 48 Hours in Reykjavik

Blog: Global Grasshopper

Writer: A team of travel writers Gary and Becky

Unlike many of the blogs on this list it is not a chronicle of any one person’s travels but rather a collection of inspirational travel stories and travel destination tips written by travel writers. For example you’ll find “top 10” lists, cool hotels and beautiful places as well as the section for travel snobs!

Most recent post: 10 of the Best Travel Destinations

Blog: Travel Business Success

Writer: Tourism Tim Warren

Since 1994 Tourism Tim Warren works to inspire, guide & connect tourism pros’ to realize their dreams. From Michigan to Mongolia, Baja to Bolivia, “Tourism Tim” Warren has helped 1000’s of small start-up tour operators to international business development agencies increase sales, arrivals and profits via his book, online courses and webinars. An entrepreneur at heart, he enjoys helping current & future travel entrepreneurs succeed financially following their passion of a profession in tourism.

Most recent post: 5 Travel Website Sales Tips

Blog: Y Travel Blog

Writer: Caz & Craig Makepeace

Caz & Craig originally from Central Coast of Australia alongside their daughters have been travelling round the world. Y Travel Blog was started in April 2010 as a way to share personal travel tips and stories to help others live their travel dreams. There consistency, dedication and global travel knowledge makes their travel site one of the best.

Most recent post: What a Day at Famous Hyams Beach Looks Like

Adewale Adelani – is Travel & Tourism enthusiast with a passion for Social Media.

Cut Cost on Travelling With All Inclusive Travel Deals and Planning Carefully

Traveling is indeed very popular nowadays. People are enjoying the idea of being able to visit places they have never been to as well as to experience being exposed to other cultures. Aside from that, everyone seems to be in better dispositions now that they treat foreign people who visit their place with such hospitality. Needless to say, countries working for the globalization of their economies put a premium on their tourism aspects.

The tourism industry really benefits from this new wave of travelling habits. That is why there are now a lot of travel agencies or companies that focus on providing assistance to people who wish to go on trips abroad or even locally. This has also brought light to the importance on all inclusive travel deals that people can avail of to cut their cost on travelling. But aside from the travel deals, there are also other ways to cut cost on travelling. These include:

1. Plan ahead. Saying that you plan ahead includes choosing the dates of your trip early enough to give you more time to prepare and to look for packages you can avail of at a cheaper price. If you do your research, you will find out that there are huge differences in pricing depending on the season. Airlines, for example, have what they call the “lean” and the “peak” seasons with the former being the time when there are less travellers and the latter having great influx of people buying plane tickets. This is also a trend followed by hotels and other establishments. This means that if you plan your trips ahead, you will be able to find better deals that are not that expensive.

You can schedule your trips about half a year or exactly one year beforehand. Check out flight schedules and ticket prices. You will be able to cut down on the ticket costs because airline fares usually increase as time progresses-which mean that what you pay for in a year will definitely be priced higher if you avail of it the following year. The same is true for hotel bookings and tickets for other places such as theatres and amusement parks.

2. Check out all inclusive travel deals from agencies. Travel agencies are known to help their clients cut cost on travelling. They have package deals wherein the clients will only have to pay a particular sum and avail of a complete trip necessities. The amount of these packages is usually lower than if the necessities are bought separately. For example, you can avail of a travel package for about $400 that already includes airfare, hotel, meals, and transportation. But if you decide to buy each of them, you might be surprised when you have to pay for more than a $100 per. Meaning, your total expenses will be higher than the package price.

Therefore, you should research well and find travel agencies that will give you the best package deals. You can look for them online or offline, depending on whatever is more convenient for you. Just make sure that you communicate with your travel agents well so that they will provide you with everything you need, which will lessen the chances of you having to pay for something separately.

3. Choose your itinerary strategically. Travel packages to different countries are priced differently. The price ranges in those places vary depending on the rate or cost of living and economic requirements. This means that you should choose the countries or places to which you travel strategically. If you can get travel deals for countries that are so near together you can just ride a train from one area to another, then you surely will be able to cut cost on travelling. This is very much possible especially when you visit Asian countries and American states. As much as possible, schedule your trips to adjacent countries so your travel agent will not have difficulty laying out your itinerary. This will also mean that you get to save on airfares.

All inclusive travel deals are really of prime interest at present. But if you will be a smart traveller, you will not just rely on the packages readily available in the market. You will also do your research and plan carefully so that you can save more on expenses.

How to Travel the World As Cheap As Possible

I have been traveling for longer now so during that time I have noticed some things which I’d like to share with you. If you dream of traveling the world and you are far away from being a millionaire, then this is the right post for you. I am just one of the many examples that prove it is more than possible.

There have been many articles on this topic, and many more are about to come yet as travel the world becomes a dream of many. Here are some of the tips I personally use to travel as cheap as possible and still have a place to stay (not a grass in the park or a bus station), food to eat and a lot of fun.

Save money on transportation

This is one of the most important things to travel cheap. Overland travel is usually cheaper than traveling by plane, so try not to move too often from one place to the one exactly in the opposite part of the world. Better get a ticket to a place and explore it deeper, then move on overland and do not go back, just move forwards to another destination. Make a route without coming back to the same place more times.

If you can, hitchhike or hire a car if you travel with more people so you can split the expenses. Try to walk as much as possible and don’t use taxis to move inside a town. Your feet are your best friend. Trust me, it is easy to walk even a couple of kilometres per day (which will help you to stay fit, too), and if not, use the public transport. Remember, no taxis are allowed.

Save money on food

There is just one tip to use when it comes to eating when on the road – avoid eating out in restaurants. Not only dinners, but breakfast and any snack can be really expensive when bought out, especially in some countries (e.g. Europe.) Try to cook and prepare your meals every time you get a chance, it will save you a lot of money. If sometimes you have no kitchen available, then try local markets to get the best fruit/vegetable/meat and in many cases, you can get there as well a ready meal for very little.

If you do not have any other chance but to dine out, then find a good place outside the touristic zone. If locals go there, it is the best sign. It will be much cheaper and probably even more tasty as they have more time to prepare it without all the tourist hassle. Get the menu of the day. Be careful though, in some countries you can easily get stomachache or diarrhea if you are not used to local food.

Save money on accommodation

Logically, no 5 * hotels nor the 4*and no all inclusive holidays. The cheapest way are usually the youth hostels but you have to get used to share the room and bathroom with others so no privacy offered. If you stay for longer than 2 – 3 weeks, then rent an apartment.

Outside the center/far away from the beach/or any place often visited by tourists is always a lot cheaper than exactly where everyone goes. Small hotels run by the locals are less expensive than the big hotel resorts. And for free, try the home exchange or couchsurfing.org that are widely used now.

Save money on travel agencies

Most of the time, not just travel agencies cost you more than if you took a trip on your own, but if they book your ticket, they charge commissions for that, too. So use some websites such as Scyscanner, Kayak, Expedia yourself and take time checking up everything to find the best deal. You can save even half of the price or more when checking properly the plane tickets.

How to Get Paid to Travel the World

That really is a mouth-watering proposition. Can it be achieved?

If you think out side the traditional square, you may be surprised at how tangible this goal can be.

o Log your travel experiences using a combination of camcorder recordings, Blogs and Social Media forums such as Twitter, and create a travel documentary of your experiences.

The quality of your production will increase its marketability to small television stations, and local media outlets. You may also be able to negotiate some significant perks from the tourist bureaus in the various countries that you promote.

o Do some research and comparisons on various package tours including accommodation and negotiate a deal with the travel agencies based on you referring group bookings. For instance, you could Blog or advertise cheaply about the merits of the holiday package and offer a group discount. As the organizer you should be able to negotiate that you receive one ticket free!

o You could approach travel agencies and offer to research some of the destinations that they recommend to their clients and give them a comprehensive report of the experience, You could provide them with a guide to the best deals you could find, and sell this resource to the agent or indeed multiple agents to offset your costs.

o Try getting a letter from a travel agency that authorizes you to research on their behalf. Then approach hotels and hostels and offer to give them free publicity in return for accommodation and discount meals.

o Become a house sitter for a family who are traveling at the same time as you or perhaps offer to do a house swap.

Tim Ferriss has written a very interesting book called The 4 Hour Week in which he discusses some very creative ways to travel the world on a very limited budget, and yet live like a king!

There are also a number of very good value Vacation Clubs that offer significant discounts to major global resorts, especially if you can afford to travel on short notice and have some flexibility in your plans.

Some of these Vacation Clubs offer referral commissions to their members that in many cases can more than cover the costs of even the most opulent of holidays.

The message I would offer, is to do some research. Do not assume that you need a lot of money to travel in style. There are thousands of people traveling the world every year on little more than loose change. And so can you!

Advantages of Travel Blogging and What You Should Be Careful About

Travel blogging is all about maintaining a diary on the internet about your travel experience. However, a travel blog may also contain your opinions about the various places in the map, including their socio-economic conditions or the political situations.

What’s the need?

One may use a travel blog to share information with the people or their friends. Other may use it as a source of generating income.

It is generally concerning a single trip and it furnishes the most recent details or comments about it. The topics may vary. These may be about the food, politics, some special places, etc. It may include some pictures, videos, text matter or links to some website or other blogs. The content in the blog is related to the travel niche. It may have options to write comments for people.

Repute of travel Blogs:

Travel blogging has become popular with many marketers on the internet. They are using them to describe in detail important features and advantages of their products. Several international companies are making use of blogs as a device for spreading the information about the services offered by them by requesting their customers to post their views on blogs. This is a most effective way of marketing and advertisement by providing firsthand information from the users and their opinions.

The frequent fliers and other professional who travel across the world find the information on the travel blogs very handy and useful. Such information cannot be easily available with any normal printed travel pamphlets. The regular travelers find the word of mouth as reliable information and most relevant for them. It may be about hotels, weather, transport, food or shopping. The availability of useful information has made the travel blogging more widespread.

In many cases it has been observed that travel blog is very helpful for people who own a travel agency. People with a travel agency, use blogging not only to provide information on the tour packages they have to offer, but also share information on the various tourist attractions. This is an efficient way of marketing which is being implemented by most of the internet marketers.

Shortcomings:

There are many disadvantages and negative features of such blogs. The information on the blog at times may cause some rift or friction. The exploitation is the result of using the blogs as means for advertising by many people. You may make some blog entries easily about some places or services by getting obliged or being paid, whereas as in fact you do not know about these places or have never used the services. The most of the postings and reviews are false and travel companies misuse these blogs to mislead the people for promoting their business.

How to use a travel blog:

It is important to make a proper use of a blog. Blogging has also become misleading, as said; it is significant to ascertain the genuineness of the writer before you draw any conclusion from a travel blog. The opinion of different people may be diametrically opposite to each other. One traveler may be appreciating something exceedingly while the other condemns it so much. It is better to check the profiles of the persons who wrote the blog. Try to know about their personalities before you make a judgment.

You should not bank on the information on a single big travel blog, rather search different blogs at Google.com to check different blogs on that topic. There may be big claims far from reality.

How to start travel blogging:

It is easy to start blogging. You can construct a travel blog and maintain it free of cost if you want. To begin, you can get a number of blogging software and install on your server. You can get several committed web tools to maintain the blog effortlessly. There are applications where you do not require a web server. You can use tools such as Elicit, Etco and w blogger to make your travel blog and for writing and editing the posts. There are many tools available for travel blogging on and hosting like AOL, tripod, Yahoo 3600, and Goggle. You can even make the tailor made tools with protected password.

So if you want to start a blog to share your travel experiences, then start it right away. You may start generating money from it too in the long-run. You never know!

A Brief Description Of Maui Island And Why You Need A Travel Agency Assistance

Would you like to travel to Maui? This is the second largest of the eight islands found in the Hawaii State. It possesses three big cities, including Lahaina, Kahului and Wailuku. The region lures many visitors because of its physical landmarks such as the highest volcanic mountain called Haleakala. Even the West Maui Mountains form very beautiful scenery. The western part of the island including Kaanapali, Lahaina and Kapalua has the most luxurious and elegant resorts.

This is a beautiful island and if you want to plan a getaway you cannot be wrong if you choose it. Although you can reach the region quickly by plane, cruising in a ship is more enjoyable. Besides, finding cheap Maui cruises is not a major problem. Since this landmass is a popular destination for tourists, you can expect to compete for cheaper cruise rates with very many people from your region.

How can you manage to overcome this competition for discounted cruise rates? If at all possible, you should look for a reliable travel agency that either has business branches in Hawaii or is based in this state. This is specifically true if you will be a first time visitor who plans to have a stress free trip to the island. A travel agent is therefore very useful when people are planning Maui vacations.

In the following few paragraphs you will find out more about the importance of using a travel agent and related information.

Reasons why you should use a Maui travel Agency
1. It provides guidance and direction through out the trip and is able to help people save money.
2. A travel operator boosts safety of new travelers throughout a whole week’s trip or even a longer one.
3. It keeps travelers from getting into trouble with the authorities in the Island
4. It recommends the best accommodation facilities as well as proper means of transportation in this wonderful island.

How you can locate a Maui Travel Agency
It is extremely easy to locate a good tour company if you know how to use the internet wisely. Look for Maui travel agents’ reviews, analyze them carefully and choose a few good companies. Go to the related forums and blogs and read prior visitors’ comments and articles. In short, you need to take your time to research carefully before making a decision about whom to hire among many tour operators that serve Maui. The best thing to do is to look for an agent that can give you a single package for the entire journey. The package should include the hotel accommodation, foods and drinks, transportation and other leisurely costs.

What your Maui tour guide should tell you in advance
An imperative detail that you want your guide to tell you about in advance is the requirements for entry in Maui, Hawaii. If you come from outside the U.S, you need to know about the passport, visas and other mandatory entry information before the travel day comes. Moreover, the agent should mention something about the climate, especially if you would be traveling with your family.

You want to avoid traveling with kids when hurricanes are common or when the weather is too wet. This is particularly important if you plan to participate in outdoor activities such as water sports and walking to the tourist landmarks. The guide should make you understand the available routes and the things you can see while cruising in a ship.

Travel Agencies and the Convenience

The 21st century is a time wherein everything that people want is available over the internet. Life has been customized to take a shape which will make it easy for humans to do even the most cumbersome tasks at the push of a button. Among the most fascinating of these services is that of online travel agencies. Even if a person wants to move from one place to the other, he/she can log-on to any of the numerous online travel agencies and hire a cab, book an airline ticket, buy a cruise permit and loads of other things.

The travel industry is the only one where there are sales all throughout the year. Trains, buses, cars, flight, cruises and all modes of transportation are always under operation. Hence, it can be rightfully said that the availability of travel services being online has been a response to their huge demand 24 hours a day, 7 days a week and 365 days a year.

The growth of the travel industry has also been very inspiring. The invention of the airplane and car by the Wright Brothers and Henry Ford respectively brought about a revolution in human history. They created a brand new market for the entire world. A service which was highly needed since time immemorial. Since their inception back in the mid 1900s to this date, both the segments have gone from strength to strength and are currently among the world’s largest industries. Today, hundreds of brands fight in the market just to grab your attention and make you buy their services and their job is to some extent made easy by travel agencies.

This brings us to the question, why do we need travel agencies? The answer to this question is very simple. They are required because they are in demand. When you intend to travel, it is quite difficult to check the listings of all the airlines and cabs that you can use. Not just can it be confusing but also pretty long and tiresome. To avoid all this hassle for people, these agencies do the job of finding the transport services that best match the customer. With their help, a customer can specify his requirements and get a service nearly tailor-made for him. The customer has the freedom to choose destinations, prices, service provider and also the time when he wants the service to be delivered. Now if all this was to be done manually, the person would have to get the schedules of all the airlines flying to the destination city on a particular date and compare their prices and check which among them would be affordable and available (seats). The same applies with cab services; it would need calling cab drivers one by one to see who can deliver. With the help of travel agencies, you can just make a call or send an email specifying your details and relieve yourself of all this stress. Within no time, you get the results which fit your requirement.

What Is A Travel Agent, Tour Operator, Or Online Travel Agency?

Every great travel company has to determine what type of travel company they want to be. Below we discuss the different ways travel is sold and the associated business operation name/description.

1.) Tour Operator – Traditional company that contracts hotel rooms, transportation, and additional excursions/events for its guests. Tour operators market directly to their guests and allow travel agents to re-sell their tour packages for a commission. The tour operator is the vendor and the travel agent is the sales agent selling to the general public. Start-up capital needed – minimum $20,000.00

2. Traditional Travel Agency – A traditional travel agency arranges travel for their guests and re-sell tour operators products. An example of a travel agency business model is Liberty Travel They re-sell prearranged hotel and flight packages arranged by tour operators. Traditional travel agencies normally sell face-to-face with their clients, over the phone, or via email. Start-up capital needed – minimum $6,000.00

3. Online Travel Agency and/or OTA – These agencies are 100% online. They contract hotels directly or through a third party wholesaler. They then use a direct connection with the airlines to package flights and hotels together. Typically they offer a contact/call center to aid people booking online, however in most cases they book 75% of their business online. Examples of this model include Expedia.com, Booking.com & CheapCaribbean.com. These companies started very small and have grown to be massive companies, and seem to be the largest sale of travel related products worldwide. Start-up capital needed – minimum $100,000.00

4. Travel Affiliate Programs – This is the newest model, with the least amount of capital required to start, and zero direct customer interaction. Online travel agencies and tour operators pay affiliate websites to advertise their travel deals/specials and when a potential customer visits the affiliate travel website and clicks on an offer, the tour operator or online travel agency pays the travel affiliate between $0.10 – $4.00 for the “click” when a potential guest leaves the affiliate site to be taken to the tour operator or online travel agencies website. Some tour operators and online travel agencies offer up to 10% commission if a guest gets to their websites via an ad they clicked on located on your travel affiliate site and completes and pays for a reservation. Start-up costs – $0 – $4000.00

We’re not partial to one model over any other. However we should point out that the affiliate model is the best way for someone with limited resources, who wants no customer service liability, a simple (nearly hands off) approach, and the fastest way to earn money. If money is your motivator and you want to earn it quickly, the affiliate model is the way to go.

In our next articles we’ll talk about developing your travel business idea and which of the four models might work best for you.

Travel Agency Software – The Travel Jungle

Charles Darwin was one of the most traveled people in history. Can you imagine the commissions his travel agent earned?

How many times have you been held up trying to book a flight or hotel because… “our system is down”. Today, people have no patience for non-functioning travel agency software. In an age when people can book a flight on a cell phone modem, the most
important asset a travel agency offers customers is personal service backed up by excellent travel agency software.

Travel Agency System – The Lion Sleeps tonight

Travel Agent system can mean the defense between a happy traveler and angry lion! Travel is a word of mouth business… a happy customer brings more business, an unhappy customer may cost a travel agency dearly. In today’s travel jungle, the unhappy customer is the lion a travel agency should most fear. Poor agency travel software may cause unhappy customers to tell their friends and even write damaging reviews on blogs and forums. the travel jungle the travel agencies with easy to use, efficient travel agency software sleep the soundest.

Travel Agency Software- Survival of the Fittest

Travel agency software that meets both present and future needs is vital. An agency’s products and customers are constantly changing and so must a travel agency’s travel agent software. The competition among competition in the travel and tourism field is fierce and so is Travel Agency Software a fiercely competitive field. Travel agencies offering personal as well as on-line reservations earn higher profit margins. Here are broad travel agent software guidelines for travel agency software needs:

Travel agency software – The Origin of Species

Very easy to use

Flexible commission facilities

Multi-lingual

Multi-currency

Full accounting capability

Full Internet integration

Extensive automated system

Total end to end solution

State-of-the-art technology

Proven reliability & stability

Book Flights Online – How to Find a Reputable Online Travel Agency

Tips for Online Flight Bookings

Below are some tips you can use next time you’re looking for an online travel agency to book flights online.

Social Media channels like Facebook and Twitter have been game changing in the way online businesses conduct themselves and deal with their clients and prospects. Take advantage of this by checking if the online travel agency you’re interested in has a social media profile. Keep a lookout for how active they are in their social media – do they respond to their fans and followers, when did they last post and how many fans/followers do they have? In addition to social media, many online businesses will have a blog where they can ‘open up the floor’ to their followers and encourage industry related discussion. Check if the company you’re interested in has a blog and you’ll soon be able to tell whether or not they’re a suspect fly-by-night or an authentic travel company.

Find out what others are saying about the online travel agency you’re leaning towards by carrying out a quick online audit. A few search engine searches and you should be able to come up with some balanced reviews and testimonials.

Are they displaying airfares including taxes and fees? It’s one thing claiming to have the cheapest airfares, but many OTA’s that make these claims fall short in that their cheap flight prices suddenly skyrocket when you come to the booking page and see the total. They’re wasting your time and are not giving the online travel industry a good reputation. Save yourself time and money by finding an online travel service that displays the total cost of the flight including taxes.

Internet is a faceless business and reputable online travel agencies should be easily reachable through channels other than their website. Check their website for a valid business address, phone numbers and email addresses. Some online travel agencies will have the option to chat to them directly from their website.

Check that the website has a safe and secure Internet payment facility. This is usually identifiable by a clickable badge that will take you to another page that displays the security certificate.

How much flexibility does the travel agency allow? In other words, how flexible are they when it comes to booking a flight online, how long do they hold the seat for you if you don’t pay immediately, what is their cancellation policy? The top online travel agencies will usually have a full customer support team and experienced travel consultants to help with any flight bookings for business and leisure travellers. Also check on the added services the OTA offers. This will usually be things like SMS itinerary reminders and travel insurance.

What can you find out about the company on their website? You will usually find this information under the ‘About Us’ or ‘Company History’ sections. Avoid fly by nights and try to book with a company that is established within the online travel industry. Look out for press releases and carry out some searches on local news websites to see if they’re getting any media coverage.

Finally, make sure the company you book through makes it clear what you need to bring to the airport when you fly. To get on the plane it’s usually an e-ticket (provided by the OTA), a personal identity document (passport if you’re flying internationally) and in some cases the credit card you used to make the booking (if that’s the payment channel you chose).

Remember that the services an online travel agency provides are designed to make your life easier. Sought out a good one and you’ll never have to bother visiting a bricks & mortar shop ever again.

Travelstart is a leading Online Travel Agency based in Cape Town, South Africa. The state of the art flight comparison tool allows users to compare the cheapest domestic and international flights and then book and pay online. With more than 500 airlines and over 11 000 destinations to choose from, travellers can be rest assured they’re getting the best online travel deals.