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Long before there was an internet, there were travel agents. You don’t hear a lot about them anymore because now you are your own travel agent. Scouring the web for the best deals can be a tedious affair, and one that is becoming more complicated as more companies join the online travel industry. Which ones have your best financial interests as a priority? And which ones will consistently find you the best deals? Those are tough questions, but we spent some time doing some comparison shopping, and here are our favorite travel sites for finding the absolute best deals on everything from flights to hotels to short term rentals to cruises.

KAYAK was one of the pioneers in the type of online travel service most popular today. Since 2004, Kayak has been saving users time and money by searching hundreds of travel sites to find users the best deals on flights, hotels and more. Key features include “Alerts,” which is a constant interactive mechanism that lets you know about new deals on destinations and flights in which you have expressed interest, by text or email. The “Explore” feature is designed to let users see flights based on what you want to spend. Kayak’s level of interactivity stands out among its competitors, making it easy to find the travel products you want based on your budget.

SKY SCANNER was founded even before Kayak in 2003, and caught on largely due to its easy-to-use interface. Kayak is the largest travel search engine, and Sky Scanner is number two.  Based on our research, we would use Kayak for domestic travel deals, and Sky Scanner for European travel. This site is best for users who have some flexibility in their travel dates. It searches across multiple date combinations to find the most economical deals and/or packages. The app has the capability to search for the least expensive date combinations over the next three months. However, travelers with fixed travel dates will find a seamless booking experience.

TRAVELZOO operates differently from Kayak or Sky Scanner. Travel companies pay to have their travel deals and packages featured on Travelzoo, and only those that Travelzoo finds legitimately cost-saving and high quality are featured on the site. Some of these companies have excess travel inventory that they really need to sell. These deals are often drastically reduced in price and then advertised on Travelzoo. So, this site operates more as a publisher of best travel deals, rather than an online travel provider. This is a great site for those shopping for travel, rather than just looking to book travel.

GOOGLE FLIGHTS is as innovative and user friendly as the other Google products, such as Maps, Alerts and Analytics. Often compared in quality to Kayak, Google Flights offers a lot of ancillary information, such as a flight’s history of delays, projected flight delays and even the option to select from which airport you wish to travel in a geographical area. The site also makes it easy to book multiple legs of a trip when the traveler plans a trip to several destinations in succession. The program also allows a flexible date traveler to compare air fares for the same flight on several different days, conveniently displayed on a monthly calendar. As for price breaks and cost savings, this site is comparable to Kayak.

VRBO is one of the leading short-term vacation home rental sites. While its primary competitor, AirBnB features single room rentals along with full homes, VRBO only features full homes. Owners post a detailed description of their rental property along with multiple photos. The reviews of the properties are most helpful on this site, helping a potential traveler make a decision. But best of all, many VRBO property owners use VRBO’s flexible pricing feature, which actually prices the property on individual days or weeks, based on consumer demand. That means the traveler can shop for properties by various dates to periods with the lowest rates. The web site and the app are extremely easy to use and booking takes a matter of seconds. The site is great for people who do not want to pay hotel prices, and who wish to have the privacy of a full home when they reach their destination.

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