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2.3. Key advice about Internet travel reservations and purchasing

The Practical Nomad: How to Travel Around the World The Practical Nomad Guide to the Online Travel Marketplace

from The Practical Nomad: How to Travel Around the World

and The Practical Nomad Guide to the Online Travel Marketplace

by Edward Hasbrouck

  • Don’t assume that tickets or other travel services will be cheaper on the Internet. Always compare prices from online and offline sources. Online robotic reservations and ticketing have more advantages in convenience and self-control than in price. There are travel deals on the Internet, but it takes work to find them.
  • There is no magic URL. Different sites, sources, and tactics may be best for different trips. No one Web site site consistently has the best prices, even for similar trips.
  • Don’t expect Internet travel robots to do your work for you, or find you the best price. They are designed to get as much of your money as possible, not to help you pay less.
  • Not all Web sites or online travel agencies have the same information or access to the same prices. Use sites that offer real alternatives and have access to different types of prices.
  • Don’t waste time “comparing” prices from sites that all have the same offerings. Web sites that look different may rely on the same data, or may even be different virtual doorways into the same online travel agency.
  • The better you understand your own travel preferences, the better the chances that you will find what you want. Do you really want the cheapest ticket even if it’s for a 3-stop flight at 3 a.m.?
  • Compare apples and apples. What matters is the bottom-line price for confirmed reservations, when you are ready to click on “buy”. Most advertised prices are substantially less than what you’ll really have to pay; many advertised prices aren’t available at all; and many Web sites are just online ads.
  • Read all the rules. Understand what you are buying, and from whom, before you buy. Some tickets are totally nonrefundable and nonchangeable. If you might have to change your plans, it might be worth paying more for a changeable ticket.
  • Some of the best travel deals you can find online may be with travel agencies you have to e-mail or phone for prices and reservations. Online travel agencies aren’t all just robots.
  • Avoid e-tickets as much as possible. Insist on paper tickets whenever they are available, even if they cost a few dollars extra.

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    "Don't believe anything just because you read it on the Internet. Anyone can say anything on the Internet, and they do. The Internet is the most effective medium in history for the rapid global propagation of rumor, myth, and false information." (From The Practical Nomad Guide to the Online Travel Marketplace, 2001)

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