Clark Howard: The best websites for travel savings

Consumer expert Clark Howard’s column appears here each Thursday in conjunction with Deal Spotter, a weekly print section in The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

Listen to Clark's live radio show 8-10 p.m. weekdays on AM750 and 95.5FM News/Talk WSB.

Listen to Clark's live radio show 8-10 p.m. weekdays on AM750 and 95.5FM News/Talk WSB.

JD Power has a new ranking of the best travel sites for bargains as decided by you, the traveler.

In first place, we have, which is owned by the Priceline people. This site gets almost 400 million unique visitors annually. When you do a hotel search, it shows you the best rate at every hotel.

In second and third place, we have and Both are blind-booking sites and I book more travel on Priceline than anywhere else, principally for hotels and cars.

The traditional players like, and are all in the middle of the heap.

Two bargain sites for air travel didn’t get great scores: and

Meanwhile, two of my favorites, and, did not place in the survey.

Why does this matter? A new Harris study finds the average American will leave nine days of vacation on the table this year. Don’t let this be you.

My thing is, I take a good amount of vacation. I believe it makes me a better employee. I’m just fresher for the next six weeks or so when I come back from vacation.

I know money still remains tight for many. Yet you can find a way to vacation without having to break the bank or having to stay tethered to home during a staycation. Popular options include going to state parks, renting a cabin, or even staying at an inexpensive motel.

As just one example, I was recently at a three-star hotel that I booked for $45 a night. It was a nice hotel and, no, it wasn’t one of my crazy Priceline or Hotwire deals. It was a deal I just happened to find while looking online, and I booked it at the hotel chain’s own website.

Find more answers to your consumer questions at Clark’s website. And get more savings tips from Clark’s previous blog posts.

– Clark Howard — Save More, Spend Less, Avoid Rip-offs — for the Atlanta Bargain Hunter blog

3 comments Add your comment


December 28th, 2012
12:10 pm

“…even staying at an inexpensive motel.”

I reccomend the Shallowford Lodge at Shallowford and 85. It’s really cheap, and you can probably find some good “entertainment,” if you know what I mean.


December 28th, 2012
11:21 pm

i’d challenge you to compare the prices on Cheaptickets and Kayak with the “travel search engine” at

To see some price comparisons with these sites and others just visit that site and click “Proven Results”. Or do your own price comparison. You’ll see more travel options and lower rates.

Carol Chunn

December 30th, 2012
3:31 pm

What kind of privacy can I expect from tour companies? I requested a price quote for a particular from a travel agency whose name I obtained off the Internet. The travel agency proceeded by contacting the tour company & holding a cabin. At that point the tour company gave the travel agency my past passenger information including my passport number, my birth date, and my children’s telephone numbers. Other tour companies require passwords to get into this necessary but private info. I was just requesting a price from an unknown travel agency. What can be done to change this policy or to publicize that this is occurring.