July 28, 2008

Kayak – Take Travel Planning Into Your Own Hands

Let’s face it, traveling has become increasingly stressful.  Air travel requires facing a brutal set of obstacles from the time you set foot at the airport and now with fuel prices skyrocketing, it’s harder than ever to find travel bargains. But fear not – with the right tools you can find yourself basking in the sun for much less than you imagined.

Enter Kayak, the unassuming web site with the incredibly powerful search and information sorting system. Unlike most travel planning web sites, Kayak provides unbiased visibility into the best air fares, hotel prices, car rentals, and cruises by gathering data from literally thousands of web sites around the globe and presenting the information in one of many amazingly digestible formats.

Want to limit your search results to those from American and Continental exclusively?  Need to land between 6:30 and 7:30am?  Looking for a four star hotel within five miles of Disneyworld?  No problem at all.  Above all else, Kayak is unique because it does not sell travel services directly to users but rather provides the flexibility and control to purchase travel from a variety of sources.  Kayak derives the majority of its revenue from advertising sponsors but does not skew the search results in favor of its advertising sponsors.

(Scroll down for screen shots)

Practical Uses:

  • Pinpoint the best time of the year to fly to Portland and visit the in-laws
  • Determine the highest-rated cruise ship to Alaska
  • Rent an mid-sized car in New York for under $60 a day

Insider Tips:

  • If you’re open to suggestions and looking for fabulous bargains, check out the Buzz feature on Kayak.  Buzz reveals the best fares and prices from millions of recent searches generated by other users
  • Sign up for Kayak’s fare and price alerts to receive email notifications of recent price drops

What We Liked:

  • The speed and flexibility of Kayak’s search engine is simply amazing.  Think Google for travel
  • Ability to fine tune the search results in real-time through the use of common-sense check boxes and slider bars
  • An extremely intuitive graphic user interface shortens the learning curve

What We Didn’t Like:

  • While Kayak is extremely comprehensive, a small number of air carriers such as Southwest will not permit Kayak to include their price data in Kayak’s search results
  • Email fare alerts may present pricing that is gone before you can get a chance to purchase
  • Kayak uses a multitude of sophisticated web technologies to make everything come together.  Don’t bother attempting to use unless your browser was released within the past few years


Company Info:

  • Launched in: February, 2005
  • Privately Held
  • Headquarters: Norwalk, CT
  • Founders: Steve Hafner, Paul English
  • Web site:


  • Free (funded by advertising)


  • 5 out of 5 (strongly recommended)

Screenshot showing Kayak live search process

Screenshot showing Kayak returning flight results

Screenshot showing Kayak's chart view option which displays fare trends based on dates

Screenshot showing example search results for hotels in Sydney

Screenshot showing Kayak's map view option

Screenshot showing Kayak's Buzz feature which displays deals other users have found


  1. Andri

    Another alternative which people tend to forget about is, all the features Kayak has, faster with a better UI.

  2. Andri,

    I’ve added DoHop to our list of sites to review and updated the Kayak review to include the reference to DoHop. Thanks for the recommendation!


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