By Margaret Piton
The promise of the Internet was that it
would replace the traditional sources of travel information and travel
booking and allow each of us to become our own travel agent. It may
not have worked out like that yet, but the Internet does make it a lot
easier to find travel information without going to a library or bookstore,
calling a travel agent or waiting interminably for someone to pick up a
I find the Internet most useful for finding
initial information. I have not succeeded in making any travel bookings
online, despite several attempts. I have used it to get information
on air fares and hotel prices and availability, and then made the booking
by telephone. (I am reluctant to give my credit card number over
the Internet, but if the savings are big enough I can be persuaded.)
One thing to remember about Internet travel
sites is that they rarely cover the least expensive places to stay.
Most of them list only hotels that pay a commission, not university residences,
Ys and other non-commercial lodging. But for last minute booking
they can be valuable
The following are some of the Internet
sites I have found useful:
- This site lists the packages and charter air fares Signature offers,
primarily to sun destinations, from various Canadian cities. The
air fares can be real bargains – as low as $138 or so return to the Caribbean
from Toronto when I checked. There are also sometimes bargains on
last minute packages.
- This site competes with priceline.com on air fares within and from the
United States. You specify when and where you want to go, and they
come up with the best fare, which you must accept within 30 minutes.
I tried it for Burlington VT to Chicago in February and came up with a
price of $208 US. This compares to a lowest fare of $273 US
from Montreal to Chicago at the same time. If you are willing
to drive a bit and live near the border, this can work out cheaper than
flying from Canada with our high taxes, noncompetitive airline situation
and airport improvement fees.
–This site is useful to check flight availabliity and prices, as well as
delays. I tried to use it to book a ticket but ended up having to
call, because for some reason they said I have two frequent flier numbers-
www.frommers.com – US based and most flights
and packages are from the US, but the site also includes articles on how
to travel cheaply in various places. As of the time of writing, there
are articles on travelling inexpensively in Lisbon and Northern Ireland,
among other destinations.
– gives discount hotel rates in cities around the world. I checked
for hotels in New York and Chicago in January, and found rooms for as little
as $59.95 with shared bath in New York, as low as $75.95 in Chicago for
room with private bath. I booked a room in New York through
this service a couple of years ago and was pleased with it, but found I
could negotiate a lower price on the spot since the hotel was not busy.
–provides data and articles on travel within Canada and abroad. When
I checked it, there was an interesting article from a newspaper on off
the beaten track travel in Portugal. Also offers travel booking service
that seemed to work when I checked prices to fly from Montreal to London
on two different dates.
–this site has information on packages and air fares offered by several
tour companies, but it is difficult to use. You have to specify where
and when you want to go before they tell you what is available – I was
not able to just find out what last minute deals they were offering.
– for cheap flights within Canada, they offer online booking. A flight
to St. John’s Newfoundland from Montreal is as low as $117 not including
– This US- based site will try to find the ideal destination to suit your
preferences in terms of sports, cultural activities, time of year and budget
if you register with them. I tried it with a Toronto departure in
late January for a ski vacation where I wanted to fly and be able to use
German and Italian languages. Their best match was Garmisch-Partenkirchen
in the Bavarian Alps, and they rated it on a number of criteria.
–a Vancouver-based site that gives information for an overlooked group
of travellers, singles. They list tours that do not charge single
supplements and will try to connect members with other single voyageurs.
–This airline provides discount air travel within Canada and to some popular
destinations elsewhere. Their Website gives air fares but does not
include tax, and to find out about sales and specials you have to register
and wait for an email within two weeks – apparently they never heard of
– one of the few US based travel sites that does not record an error if
you want to fly from a Canadian city. They provide information on
the least expensive fares between various cities and the booking requirements—if
you access them through sympatico.ca you can find the fares in Canadian