TODAY Show Video: Top Travel Sites and Apps
Mark Orwoll shares travel websites and apps that will make it easier to book your next trip.
Backbid: Reverse hotel bids
Post a reservation request (dates, location, number of stars) with maximum rate you're willing to pay. Hotels in that destination will bid for your business, presenting the lowest rates they can offer. Unlike other bidding sites, you know the specific hotel where you'll be staying using Backbid. When I tried it, I got my first reverse bid within two minutes at a savings of more than 10 percent of what I would have paid on the hotel's own website.
Tingo: Automated hotel rebooking at lower rates
Book your hotel through Tingo and if the rates go down, Tingo automatically rebooks you at the lower rate. It's great for those travelers who know which hotel they want to stay at but are concerned whether they really got the "best" rate at time of booking. Tingo only rebooks if there are no rebooking or cancellation penalties and the price difference is refunded automatically to your credit card. All you have to do is enjoy your hotel stay.
Pintrips: "Pin" your favorite airfare searches
The idea of "pinning" something on the web was popularized by Pinterest, but now extends to online airfare searches with Pintrips. Most travelers research multiple airfare sites before booking—but how can anyone remember all the search results? Pintrips allows you to "pin" the airfare results you like and collect them in a personal folder on their site making it easy to compare flight options. It's not only helpful for remembering where you found which airfare, but also great for sharing options with a group—for a family reunion, for instance. Pintrips works with all major U.S. airlines, Google, Orbitz, Expedia, and Kayak, but will soon have more than 20 compatible airfare sites.
Seatguru: Chose the best available seat on your next flight
Seatguru provides a seat map for the exact plane you'll be flying on, showing you the preferred seats as well as the ones to avoid. The most comfortable seats are marked in green. Seats with minor issues, like dining trays in the armrests (which decreases seat width), are yellow. Seats marked in red indicate problems like minimal seat recline or locations near the galleys and restrooms. I never book a flight without consulting Seatguru first.
Flightaware: Track a flight's progress in real time
If you've ever had to pick someone up at the airport, you may have signed up for flight-status alerts from the airline. Trouble is, email announcements about delays often come too late. You could end up at the airport hours too early because of unforeseen delays. To avoid that fate, use Flightaware to track flights on a map in real-time. You'll get the exact location of the flight, the time it left the originating airport, and the time it's expected to land at its destination.
Mark Orwoll is the International Editor of Travel + Leisure. Follow him on Twitter at @orwoll.