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Correction to This Article
An article in the Sept. 15 Travel section incorrectly said the Web site Cruise Critic runs commentary by Anne Campbell. Its commentary is written by critic and editor Sharon Dodd.
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Sites to Behold: The Best in Online Travel

www.about.com

This wide-ranging site has lots of destination guides, including Las Vegas and Florida, as well as topical guides for business travelers, spa lovers, etc. Each section is maintained by a "guide" who contributes feature stories and selects links to other sites. Many guides have quit the site during the past year, so some sections are shells of their former selves. Another drawback: The site is riddled with annoying pop-up ads.

Last-Minute Sites

www.site59.com

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Find links to airline sites.

Combining flights, lodging and optional tours, Site59 is useful for finding complete last-minute packages. The price often drops as the trip date approaches. A sample package departing Washington in mid-September: a two-night weekend stay in New Orleans, including air and lodging, for $272, plus tax. Prices are per person based on double occupancy; single travelers must pay a supplement. Beware that some hotels are far from the city center, and be prepared to make a stopover on some routes.

www.bestfares.com

This compendium of airfare deals and travel news has some terrific bargains, especially for last-minute bookers. Created by Tom Parsons, the site has finally enabled its users to select their departure city. The downside is that most of the best deals are available only to members; the annual fee is $59.90.

www.lastminutetravel.com

With a broad array of offerings, from flights to vacation rentals, this site can be a good source of late-breaking bargains. Unlike some budget sites, LastMinuteTravel has abundant inventory, though it can be slow to load on dial-up connections.

Lodging

The two leading all-purpose booking sites, Expedia and Travelocity, can be good sources for lodging, as well as air-hotel packages. Hotwire and Priceline also have hotel sections (see above). The sites below focus exclusively on accommodations.

www.quikbook.com

For well-priced rooms at leading hotels, Quikbook is a good option. The rates aren't always rock-bottom, so shop around at other sites and call hotels directly. Quikbook rates are often $20 to $40 lower than those quoted by hotels, and the site sometimes has rooms at places listed as sold out elsewhere. For top tourist cities, including New York and Orlando, there's a separate category for budget hotels.

www.hotels.com

Formerly HotelDiscounts.com, Hotels.com occasionally has rooms available at properties sold out elsewhere. Covering more than 100 destinations, it has a broader selection than Quikbook, and sometimes beats that site's prices. However, it's not as well organized, and its refund and exchange policies haven't been as friendly.

www.vacationspot.com

Rather than spend $250 a night for a fancy room, why not spend $500 a week for a condo? Vacation Spot lists vacation rentals worldwide, with images of properties in most cases. Condo resorts are often listed ahead of individual properties, so check all the listings.

www.bedandbreakfast.com

With images, reviews and links to B&Bs' own home pages, this is a fine site for choosing a B&B. Bear in mind that inns pay to be listed and write their own descriptions, so view the pages as you would ad copy. Some places list availability.

www.karenbrown.com

You won't find thousands of listings here -- instead, you'll see a carefully selected handful of upscale properties reviewed by California innkeeper Karen Brown. The site covers small hotels and inns in most European countries and a few U.S. regions, including New England, California and the Pacific Northwest. Note: Inns pay to be included.


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