There are so many online options for purchasing airfare and hotels (like Expedia or Travelocity) that it’s hard to know which one to use and if one is better than the other. Even when I visit those sites, I still end up checking the website for the airline I’ll be flying or the hotel I’ll be staying at to check if they have a better price than the “discount” sites, and often times they do. It takes time to look into all of the options to find out where the best deal is. This is where Kayak comes in handy.
—What is Kayak—
Simply put, Kayak is a travel search engine – not a store. They don’t sell anything. Think about your typical search engine like Google and Yahoo and how they gather up search results from all around the web. Kayak is the same way, only with travel sites! They search hundreds of sites around the world and then let you know where you can find the best price.
I always kinda wondered how they came up with the name “Kayak” for a travel site, and while gathering up information for this article, I found out why. They wanted a name that was “fun and easy to remember. We wanted a name that was short and easy to type. We also love the fact that our chosen name is a palindrome.” (Kayak reads the same forward or backwards)
—Searching on Kayak—
Kayak is not only for finding flights. You can also search for hotels, cars, and cruises. They search over 100,000 hotels, and their goal is to search nearly every airline in the world. Given this, Kayak is a very thorough way to search for the best prices.
When you search, you have a few filter options which include whether or not you want a nonstop flight or 1–2 stops, which airlines you’d prefer it search, choosing when you’d like to leave (morning, evening?) and when to return, as well as additional airports to display.
Another really nice feature when you perform a search is that you can choose between three different views: List, Matrix, and Chart. The list view just lists all the results while the Matrix view shows you which airlines they have results from at the top of the page so that you can easily navigate to them. The chart view is probably one of my favorites because it displays two graphs which help you get an idea of when the best fare would be during the month you’re traveling. If you can be flexible with your dates, the graphs Kayak provides will be extremely beneficial to help you determine when to leave.
Kayak does have a blog where you can keep up with the latest Kayak happenings. One of their recent posts was “Novel Trip Ideas” where they gave ideas for four different trips you could take based off of novels. If you’re into golf, you’ll enjoy an article from July where they pointed out five different places that you could go to have a golf getaway. While the blog isn’t updated that frequently, they still provide useful content that would be helpful in planning a trip.
One of the most useful features that Kayak has available is “Fare Buzz.” Here you can create a fare alert where you’d select where you were leaving from, where you’re going to, and the maximum price you wanted to pay. Then you’ll receive alerts when Kayak finds a fare that matches or beats the price you entered.
They also list the best fares to 25 of the most popular destinations like San Diego, West Palm Beach, Chicago, San Francisco, and include a Google map that shows the location, along with the airfare.
—Wrapping it Up—
I find Kayak so useful because they’re not out to sell anything. They’re there to simply point you to the best price on the Internet. I’ve found it to be one of the most helpful search tools while looking for a hotel or airfare. Searching is simple and quick, and the end result is that you’re able to find the best price around to save you money.