The Best Travel Websites You’ve Never Heard Of

Photo: Getty Images.
In the old days, vacation planning was practically a workout. To land a good deal, you had to keep your eyes peeled for newspaper ads and hit up every travel agency in town. And, once you found the right destination, formulating a decent itinerary meant poring over guidebooks and making notes of what you saw on travel shows. Now, thanks to a myriad of booking sites and travel blogs, we can manage every aspect of our vacation without even getting out of bed. But while there may be less legwork involved, the Internet has created a new problem: With countless sites and online services out there, it's hard to know which ones are actually worth your time — which may explain why the average traveler visits a whopping 39 websites before actually booking a trip.
To help you cut through the noise, we've identified some under-the-radar travel sites you probably haven't heard of, but which will make the process a whole lot easier. Be prepared to bookmark them all.
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This hotel booking platform shows you the best rates and sweetens the deal by offering you a chance to make a difference. For every successful transaction, a significant amount of profit will be donated to a charity organization specializing in a cause of your choice. There's no excuse not to give back when it's as easy as tapping the reservation button.
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In a nutshell, this website is like Uber — but for chartered jets. With access to 5,000 airports all over the country, the operator service shuttles you around in a swish, private aircraft without any of the hassle you'd experience in a commercial flight. A number of jets in a variety of sizes and costs are available for instant booking — taking the quote requesting process out of the equation — and the price tag is not as steep as you'd think. The sample charge for a seven-person jet from NYC to Martha's Vineyard is just over $2,000 one-way, which comes down to an average price of price of $285. That's not too bad for a fancy celebrity experience.
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This home-sharing platform is like a low-key version of Airbnb — with features ideal for solo female travelers. By joining a network within the site named Girls Love Travel, you'll be able to receive a discounted rate — from 15% to 40% off — on properties listed in the home-sharing platform. It's worth checking out if you want a safe accommodation option on a budget.
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The Luxe Nomad

Planning your next great escape with the squad? This site is the ultimate scrapbook of inspirations. The online portal serves as a marketplace for luxury hotels and villas — spanning from Mykonos to the Maldives — where you'll be able to book directly from the property owners with just one click. The selection in Asia is particularly impressive, with offerings in far-flung locales like Bhutan and private islands in the Philippines. Keep your eyes peeled on the weekly updates of Nomad Picks, where you can nab limited-time deals at a 20% to 70% discount.
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Momondo won't let you book flights, but it will help you compare prices and find the best option for your schedule. From there, you can go elsewhere to complete your booking. The best part of the site is the Trip Finder tab, which lets you search based on activity (skiing, shopping, nightlife, and others), general location, time, and budget. You can start dreaming up your next trip in seconds.
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Photo: Courtesy of HomeAway.
If you're looking to live like a local on your travels, look no further than HomeAway. The site has apartment and home listings from all over the world. Best of all: Most are insanely reasonable. You can find an adorable flat in the heart Paris for $56 per night or a garden apartment in Bali for just $36 per night. Finding paradise at a low price has never been easier.
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Photo: Courtesy of Stayful.
Staying at a boutique hotel is an easy way to ensure a unique travel experience. But searching individual websites to find bookings can be time-consuming. With Stayful, finding the perfect lodging option is simple. Just enter your destination and travel dates and you're on your way to a one-of-a-kind overnight experience. Even better, you'll be getting it at a discount. Stayful works with boutique hotels to fill up unsold rooms by offering lower prices than the ones you'll find elsewhere.
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Photo: Courtesty of TripTogether.
When it comes to travel, it's nice to use the buddy system. TripTogether helps you find compatible travel companions to share your adventures with. The social platform also allows you to join as a local and show off the best of your hometown to visitors. That is, until it's your time to travel, and local users around the world can play host to you.
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Photo: Courtesy of Nightswapping.
At Nightswapping, travel is the goal and homes are the currency — no cash required. Like the title suggests, you "pay" by swapping nights. The interface uses Tinder's popular swipe function so you can collect the homes you'd like to stay in with just a brush of your finger. Users accumulate credit with the application by hosting other users. After you've hosted enough guests, you can use the credit for a free getaway of your own.
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Photo: Courtesy of Roma Travel Company.
Roam Travel Company
If you're looking to indulge in a bit of boutique travel, look no further than Roam Travel Company. The websites boasts that they are experienced in planning “discreet” travel (read: travel for celebrities.) Not for small-time spenders, they'll take care of all the nitty-gritty, like itineraries, transportation, and flights — even a chartered helicopter.
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Photo: Courtesy of Overnight.
The amount of planning that travel requires can be overwhelming. Part of the allure of last-minute travel plans is that you're basically making it impossible to fret too long about the details. But finding accommodations on short notice can be just as intimidating. Enter Overnight. Much like Airbnb, the app provides home stays with locals, but you can only book rooms on the day of — no advance planning allowed! Unlike Airbnb, the application sells itself on efficient delivery: hosts are required to respond within 10 minutes when you request a room.
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Photo: Courtesy of TrustedHousesitters.
If you've got a pet, planning a trip means making arrangements for your destination and your home base. It's not only added work, but an added cost as well. Not anymore, thanks to TrustedHousesitters, a global community of free pet and housesitters. Yup, you read that right: free.

How is that possible? Pay just a monthly subscription fee (starting at $9.92/month) to access its global database of pet lovers. Registered sitters stay at your house at no cost, in exchange for accommodations. All sitters are rated and reviewed, so you can make an informed decision about who will be caring for Fido or Fluffy. Looking for a budget getaway or staycation and don't mind a temporary, four-legged roommate? Consider becoming a sitter yourself.
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Photo: Courtesy of Roadtrippers.
Make getting there half the fun! Roadtrippers allows you to plan car routes where diversions and points of interest are part of the journey. Enter your starting point and destination, and Roadtrippers fills in everything from hotels to "weird stuff" and natural wonders along the way. Click on attractions that interest you, and your route adjusts to incorporate them along with new directions and travel estimates. After you've mapped out your dream trip, you can sync it to your phone and favorite navigation apps, book hotels, and even buy tickets through the website. Not sure where to have your adventure? The site also features suggested routes throughout the country.
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Photo: Courtesy of JetSuite.
If you're looking for a super luxe way to fly, it doesn't get more baller than traveling in a private jet. JetSuite allows users to charter their own planes or buy a seat on a chartered plane for as little as $99 (depending on location). Sure, chartering your own plane via JetSuite doesn't come cheap (think upwards of $10,000), but it is a lot more affordable than actually ponying up for a plane of your own — and in some cases, it's even cheaper than one first-class seat on a commercial airline.
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Photo: Courtesy of Skipper.
Planning a trip for a few friends can be tough, but planning for a larger group is usually a guaranteed headache. Skipper (formerly Jetaport) takes some of the pain out of it by allowing you to search for bookings suitable for all types of crowds. From business to weddings to family reunions, the site not only finds group rates in your destination, but also tweaks its recommendations based on the kind of trip you're booking for.
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Photo: Courtesy of Liligo.
Unlike other travel websites, which might feature sponsored listings or make money selling tickets, Liligo acts as a totally transparent source for the cheapest plane, train, and bus tickets around. But its niftiest feature is "Where To Go?"

Simply enter your departure city and month, as well as your budget, travel time, and even preferred climate. You can then see the cheapest last-minute getaways from your city, as long as your travel dates are flexible. Who knows? You just might discover your new favorite travel destination.
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Photo: Courtesy of GetMyBoat.
When you're ready to leave the roads behind and take to the open water, GetMyBoat's worldwide listings (over 57,000 in 154 countries!) allow you to rent a boat by the hour or day directly from the owners. Not so confident in your sailing abilities? Many of the rentals come with a chartered tour or on-board staff, giving you plenty of opportunities to sit back and enjoy the views. If you're feeling more adventurous, some rentals include access to water sports like water skiing, snorkeling, or parasailing.
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Photo: Courtesy of Turo.
While relying on public transportation is great, some destinations require a car, especially if you want to get off the beaten path. Enter Turo, which you can think of as the Airbnb of cars. Owners list their vehicles for rent, at about 30% less than what you'd pay at a rental agency. Some owners even offer free delivery, meaning whether you're arriving at an airport or somewhere else, you'll be on your way in no time. Turo is also great for city dwellers who find themselves in need of a set of wheels for a trip to Ikea.
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Photo: Courtesy of Gogobot.
If you’re the type who asks friends and coworkers for suggestions about what to do and see in every new place you visit, bookmark this site — which is basically an online platform for "word-of-mouth” recommendations — ASAP. Powered by thousands of reviews submitted by avid travelers, the portal aggregates popular attractions, restaurants, and hotels at major travel destinations around the world. Gogobot sets itself apart from sites like TripAdvisor and Yelp with its “Explore by Tribes” function, which can filter suggestions according to your interests. As a member, you can join these "tribes," comprised of like-minded travelers with the same interests (like food or history), and ask your trip-planning questions in the respective forums.
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Photo: Courtesy of Travelmath.
The decision of whether to drive or fly somewhere can be an agonizing one, especially if you are traveling domestically. This handy tool takes the number crunching out of the equation: Simply plug in your point of origin and your destination, and it will generate a side-by-side comparison of both scenarios. No aspect is left out: The gas costs, time lapsed, and even halfway stops are mapped out in detail.
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Photo: Courtesy of Yapta.
Certain booking sites may have celebrity spokespeople posing as kung fu-fighting "Negotiators," but Yapta actually walks the walk — and then some. The site allows you to track the prices of flights and hotels via weekly email updates, and sends instant alerts when discounts occur. What really sets the Kayak-backed venture apart is what happens after you book: If you've already paid for tickets at the higher price, Yapta will negotiate with the airlines to issue you a refund for the difference.
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Photo: Courtesy of Sleeping In Airports.
Sleeping In Airports
Remember that time when you were stranded at an airport and just couldn't find a decent place to grab a bite and wash up? This comprehensive site would've taken care of the problem. The database is akin to a Lonely Planet guide to airports around the world. Even if you're not planning to spend the night, the site provides useful info — like where to find the best free Wi-Fi networks, and the locations of showers and charging stations — to make that three-hour layover much less dreadful. If you are spending the night, detailed reviews will tell you everything you might need to know, from the coziest nooks to the most optimal sleeping position at each airport.
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Photo: Courtesy of Clever Layover.
Clever Layover
Another way to use a layover smartly — other than being super-prepared — is to save big bucks while enduring one. Clever Layover connects flights from different carriers to create the cheapest itinerary to destinations like Paris, Honolulu, and Sydney. The 30+ hour total travel time may look intimidating, but it actually gives you ample hours in which to explore your layover city. Plus, with savings that range anywhere from $70 to $400, you'll have plenty of room in your budget to cover any expenses on your stopover.
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Photo: Courtesy of Using Miles.
Using Miles
Finding out your miles have expired is one of the most frustrating experiences ever. But avoiding that requires a meticulous level of organization. Instead of setting up constant calendar reminders, get a free basic membership to Using Miles, which keeps track of all the balances and expiration dates of your travel credits. The easy-to-read platform is compatible with all major airlines, participating hotels, car rental services, and even Starbucks. You can also activate a feature to manage your family's reward programs, so they don't lose out on those points. Seeing the credits rack up with all your purchase rewards just might inspire you travel more often.
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Photo: Courtesy of Love Home Swap.
Love Home Swap
If you've ever seen the movie The Holiday, you've probably fantasized about switching homes with a total stranger. With this free marketplace — which is actually inspired by the rom-com — now you can. Users can browse more than 70,000 vacation homes in 160 countries and arrange to exchange homes with the owners for free. If you can't find exactly what you're looking for, host someone at your home the next time you have to leave town, and accrue travel credits for later use. Unfortunately, there's no guarantee of a whirlwind romance with Jude Law — but it's still a great deal.
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Photo: Courtesy of Hipmunk.
With so many deal-oriented travel search engines out there, Hipmunk stands out with an elevated user experience: Amtrak schedules and Airbnb listings are both integrated into the results. The site also recently launched an A.I. planning assistant in the form of the adorable Hipmunk chipmunk, which sends travel options straight to your inbox. The service is especially useful if you're planning a group trip. To activate the assistant, simply CC the Hipmunk in a group email and include specifics about your trip (like when and where you're going); everyone on the chain will get instant recommendations for flights and hotels in an automated email.
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Photo: Courtesy of Roadside America.
Roadside America
America is a treasure trove for attractions that range from eye-opening to batshit crazy. In this online encyclopedia, travelers pen dispatches from the truly weird and under-the-radar places they came across while traversing the U.S., from the house where The Texas Chainsaw Massacre was filmed to a museum exclusively about popcorn. To make your next road trip as off-the-beaten-path as it can be, this is the ultimate resource. but beware: Roadside America can also be a major time suck when you’re bored at the office.
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Photo: Courtesy of TripHobo.
Planning what to do on each day of a trip is a long process that sucks out some of the fun, and the suggested itineraries in travel guides tend to feel generic and impractical. Enter, TripHobo. Not only does the site contain destination guides that are legit and straight to the point, it also gives users access to the dozens of personalized travel plans drafted by its members. Whether you're planning to stay at a destination for two days or 10, it feels more reassuring to model your itinerary after someone's tried-and-true experiences.
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Photo: Courtesy of Whym.
If you're all about spontaneity, we've found your perfect app. Whym offers curated lists of last-minute exciting tours, attractions, and events in cities around the world. Each list is customized to meet different users interests, and even offers discounts on tickets. The best part for impulsive travelers? You don't have to plan ahead. Download the Whym app to explore and book activities perfect for your personality and travel timeline.
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Wouldn't it be awesome to have an online ideas board dedicated to your next escape? Jetsetter is here to inspire your wanderlust with insider travel intel and stunning imagery. The photo-heavy platform is a one-stop-shop for hotel recommendations, planning tips, and the hottest booking deals. The site recently launched Wanderlist, a Pinterest-board like feature to keep all the visual inspiration for your next vacay in one neat place.
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