The Ultimate Guide To Using TripAdvisor for Booking Flights, Hotels, Rentals & More

Full Disclosure: We may be compensated when you click on links to credit card products from our advertising partners, such as American Express, Chase, Citi & Capital One. Opinions on this site are ours alone, and have not been reviewed or approved by the issuer. See our Advertiser Disclosure for more details. Thanks!

While you might just think of TripAdvisor as the place to get honest reviews about hotels, restaurants, or things to do, it’s actually so much more than that.

First, TripAdvisor acts as a metasearch engine, showing you prices for hotels, flights, and rental cars on lots of other websites. You can click through TripAdvisor to the other site to complete a booking.

Second, in recent years, TripAdvisor has added a social aspect to the site. You can follow other accounts, and you have a home page feed that’s similar to what you see on Facebook.

Finally, TripAdvisor has its own travel forum for you to ask and answer questions about all things travel.

Let’s take a look at everything TripAdvisor offers and how it can help you plan and book your next vacation.

What TripAdvisor Offers

You can search for almost anything that you’ll need for your next vacation on TripAdvisor.

  • Hotels
  • Things to do
  • Restaurants
  • Flights
  • Vacation rentals
  • Cruises
  • Rental cars
  • Road trips
  • Cruises

TripAdvisor offers lots of reviews plus they act as a metasearch engine. Metasearch engines are sites like Google Flights, Kayak, or Skyscanner.

They gather tons of data to show you the prices for your flight, hotel, rental car, and more on lots of other websites. Once you find a price you like, they transfer you to another website (usually a hotel or airline’s website or an online travel agency) to complete your booking.

TripAdvisor Hotels

  1. To start your search for a hotel on TripAdvisor, click on Hotels in the main search menu. Then select your destination.

    Trip Advisor hotels
    Image Credit: TripAdvisor
  2. If you’re interested in seeing specific pricing, enter your travel dates and number of people at the top. If you’re just looking for reviews and photos, you don’t need to enter this information.

    Trip Advisor Hotels
    Image Credit: TripAdvisor
  3. Your filtering options will be at the left of the screen, along with a map to search by location.

    Trip Advisor Hotels
    Image Credit: TripAdvisor
  4. Each search result will give you basic information about the hotel along with some pricing. The price that’s displayed the largest is NOT necessarily the cheapest price. Click on the name of the hotel to see more information on TripAdvisor. Clicking on the View Deal button will take you to the hotel’s website or an online travel agency.

    Trip Advisor hotels
    Image Credit: TripAdvisor
  5. You’ll see pricing information in the top left corner. Clicking on any of these will take you to that site to book the hotel. Photos are available in the top right corner. Scroll down to the middle of the page to see the hotel’s reviews.

    Trip Advisor Hotels
    Image Credit: TripAdvisor

TripAdvisor Things To Do

TripAdvisor is a great tool to find activities for your next trip. To start, click on Things To Do in the main menu and then enter your destination.

Trip Advisor Things to do
Image Credit: TripAdvisor

Inputting your travel dates will show more accurate pricing information, but it’s not required. You can search for events and activities in a number of ways:

  1. Search by category
  2. Search popular events
  3. Search only tours and tickets or day trips
  4. Search by location using the map in the upper right corner

    Trip Advisor Things To Do
    Image Credit: TripAdvisor

When you’re viewing a list of available activities, you’ll see lots of options to filter and sort the results. Click More Info to see specifics about the activity.

Trip Advisor Things To Do
Image Credit: TripAdvisor

From here you’ll be able to see all of the details about the activity including things like transportation specifics, what’s included and not included, dates and times, plus reviews.

You can check availability for your desired date and see what times the tour or activity is offered. The main price you see is per person, so this is where you can see the final price if you’re booking for more than 1 person. Click Add to Cart to complete your booking via Viator, a TripAdvisor company.

Trip Advisor Things To Do
Image Credit: TripAdvisor

Anytime you book an activity on TripAdvisor, the transaction will be completed by Viator. They offer a Best Price Guarantee on your purchase.

That means that if you find the same tour from the same operator priced in the same currency within 72 hours of booking, they’ll refund the difference in price. Plus if you arrive for your tour or activity and find a lower price being offered by the operator, contact Viator and they’ll refund the difference in price.

Bottom Line: TripAdvisor offers activities and tours for your next vacation. You can read reviews, check pricing, and book your activity all in one spot. When you book an activity through TripAdvisor, the transaction will happen via Viator, a TripAdvisor company.

TripAdvisor Restaurants

Did you know that you can also use TripAdvisor to find great restaurants? Just click on Restaurants in the main search menu, and then enter your destination.

Trip Advisor Restaurants
Image Credit: TripAdvisor

You’ll see lots of different ways to search for a great restaurant for your specific needs. There are lots of options to filter and sort the results list. You can browse restaurants based on lots of criteria:

  • Type of food
  • Type of dining establishment
  • Dietary restrictions
  • Price
  • Location (using the map feature in the upper left corner)
  • Restaurant features

    Trip Advisor Restaurants
    Image Credit: TripAdvisor

Click on any restaurant selection to see details, photos, and reviews.

If you have a specific question about a restaurant, scroll down to the Q&A section. You can see previously asked questions or ask one of your own.

Some restaurants will allow you to make a reservation online. You can find these in the Reserve a Table Online section, or just look for the Open Table reservation box in any listing.

Trip Advisor Restaurants Open Table
Image Credit: TripAdvisor

Hot Tip: Do you eat out often? If so, use a credit card that earns lots of points at restaurants to maximize your returns! 

TripAdvisor Flights

TripAdvisor might not be the first website that comes to mind when you need to search for a flight. But, it acts as a metasearch engine, comparing prices from lots of other sites in one place.

  1. To get started, click on Flights in the main search box. Then input your arrival and departure destinations, dates of travel, and the number of people traveling. You can also select which websites you want to search, but this isn’t necessary.

    Trip Advisor Flights
    Image Credit: TripAdvisor
  2. Your sorting and filtering options will be available as drop-down menus right above your search results.

    Trip Advisor Flights
    Image Credit: TripAdvisor
  3. Once you find a flight you like, click on View Deal. You’ll be taken to the airline’s website to book or you might be directed to an online travel agency. Sometimes, multiple sites will be offering a similar deal so you can choose who you want to book through.

    Trip Advisor Flights
    Image Credit: TripAdvisor

Hot Tip: Not sure which online travel agency is best for you? Check out our guide to the best websites to book cheap flights for some guidance.

If you’re curious about the airline you’re booking, check out the TripAdvisor airline reviews. From the home page, click on the 3 dots in the main search box to open the drop-down menu. Then click on Airlines.

Trip Advisor Airline Reviews
Image Credit: TripAdvisor

Here you’ll see the airlines listed in alphabetical order or you can sort them by rating or alliance. Click on See Reviews to read reviews about the airline from other TripAdvisor users.

Trip Advisor Airline Reviews
Image Credit: TripAdvisor

TripAdvisor Vacation Rentals

If a hotel isn’t quite your style, you’ll be happy to know that you can also search for vacation rentals on TripAdvisor.

  1. To get started, click on Vacation Rentals from the home page, and then enter your destination.

    Trip Advisor Vacation Rentals
    Image Credit: TripAdvisor
  2. Enter your travel dates plus the required number of rooms and guests at the top of the page. You’ll be able to filter your results using the options at the left. Then sort your list using the drop-down in the upper right corner.

    Trip Advisor Vacation Rentals
    Image Credit: TripAdvisor
  3. Each listing will display important information like the number of bedrooms and price. Using the arrows on the photo, you can easily scroll through the pictures of the property. Click anywhere in the search results box to see more information or to continue booking.

    Trip Advisor Vacation rentals
    Image Credit: TripAdvisor
  4. Next, you’ll be able to see all the details of the property including information about the owners and reviews from other guests. Click Book Now to continue with your reservation.

    Trip Advisor Vacation Rentals
    Image Credit: TripAdvisor
  5. Finally, all you need to do is enter your information and credit card number to complete your reservation. Your booking is completed through FlipKey Inc. (a TripAdvisor company).

TripAdvisor Rental Cars

Searching for a rental car on TripAdvisor works much like other sites you might be used to.

  1. To get started, click on Rental Cars in the main search box. Then enter your pick up location, dates of travel, and driver’s age. If you’re dropping the car off at a different location, use the Different drop off tab to input that location too. Click Find rental cars to continue.

    Trip Advisor Rental Cars
    Image Credit: TripAdvisor
  2. You’ll have lots of options to filter and sort your results. Plus, you can select which rental companies you want to include in your search on the left. The price you see is per day and includes all taxes and fees (sometimes the total price is listed right below the advertised price.)

    Trip Advisor Rental Cars
    Image Credit: TripAdvisor
  3. Once you’ve found the car you want to rent, click Select Car. Unlike with flights or hotels, where you’ll be automatically taken to another website to book, your rental car booking will be processed through TripAdvisor/RentalCars.com, regardless of what supplier is listed.

    Trip Advisor Rental Cars
    While this car is from Alamo, your transaction will be processed through TripAdvisor/Rentalcars.com. Image Credit: TripAdvisor
  4. After selecting your car, you’ll be able to see a clear breakdown of the price. This page will also display the cancellation policy and any other specific policies of the rental. Click Reserve My Rental Car to complete your booking.

    Trip Advisor Rental Cars
    Image Credit: TripAdvisor

Right before you complete your rental, you’ll be asked to add an Auto Collision Damage Waiver (CDW) and Theft Waiver. Before you decide to purchase this extra coverage, take a look in your wallet. Your credit card might already come with a CDW.

Trip Advisor Rental Car CDW
Image Credit: TripAdvisor

Here are just a few popular credit cards that come with extra car rental insurance:

Hot Tip: For more information about your options check out our guide to the best credit cards for car rental insurance.

TripAdvisor Road Trips

The Road Trip section of TripAdvisor is a fun way to check out popular road trip routes in the U.S. To find it, click on More on the home page, then select Road Trips.

Trip Advisor Road Trips
Image Credit: TripAdvisor

You can search by region: Northwest, Southwest, Midwest, Northeast, or Southeast. Each road trip selection will offer tips for that route including how long it should take and the best time of year. Plus, there will be a map of the route.

Scroll down a bit to see hotels, restaurants, and things to do along the way. To see all of these things mapped out, just click on the map of the route. You can then search by location. Toggle between hotels, restaurants, and things to do by using the icons in the top left corner.

Trip Advisor Road Trip Map
Image Credit: TripAdvisor

Cruises

To begin your search for a cruise on TripAdvisor, select Cruises in the main search bar. Enter your destination and month of travel then click Find your cruise.

Trip Advisor Cruises
Image Credit: TripAdvisor

Hot Tip: If you aren’t sure about where or when you want to cruise, scroll down on the main cruise page to search by destination, duration, and popularity.

Your results page will have all of the filtering options to the left — there are lots of options to help narrow down your list:

  • Departure port
  • Cruise length
  • Cruise line
  • Price
  • Ship
  • Cabin type
  • Ports of call

Each result will display a price, but this isn’t necessarily the lowest price available. Click on the drop-down menu for more information or click on the cruise name to see more detailed information. Clicking on View Deal will take you to another website to continue booking.

Trip Advisor Cruise
Image Credit: TripAdvisor

Once you click on a specific cruise for more information you’ll be able to access traveler photos and reviews. Plus you’ll be able to see all of the deals available by clicking on view all deals.

Trip Advisor Cruises
Image Credit: TripAdvisor

Hot Tip: The cruise deals shown do not necessarily include all deals available. You might notice that the price to book directly is often left out.

TripAdvisor Reviews

TripAdvisor reviews are the backbone of the website. If you’ve ever booked a hotel, I bet you’ve checked out a TripAdvisor review.

The beauty of their reviews is that they are from real people who have stayed at the hotel you’re researching. Glossy, professional photos can make anyplace look fantastic, but with TripAdvisor, you get to see authentic, unedited photos from real travelers. It’s true, you’ll have to sort through some terrible, blurry pictures, but you’ll get a good sense of what the hotel is really like.

In addition to hotel reviews, you can find reviews for activities, restaurants, vacation rentals, and even cruises.

Tips for Making the Most out of TripAdvisor Reviews

  1. Many reviews will give you a sense of the customer service a hotel offers. Although this is a great thing, it also gives a platform to disgruntled customers who want to bash a location. These are pretty easy to spot, so take them with a grain of salt.
  2. If you’re searching for a specific question about a hotel, you can use the search function. TripAdvisor will offer suggestions of keywords to search for or you can input the specific piece of information you’re looking for. You’ll then see any reviews that mention that keyword. Next time you’re searching for a hotel, check the reviews for things like: heated pool, room service, or restaurants.

    Trip Advisor
    Image Credit: TripAdvisor
  3. If you’d like to search for reviews that are more specific to your circumstances, you can easily filter the reviews by traveler type (families, couples, solo, business, or friends), time of year, and language.

    Trip Advisor Reviews
    Image Credit: TripAdvisor
  4. In addition to reading written reviews, you can scroll through pictures that people have posted. You can tell a lot about a property just by doing this versus looking at the beautiful photos posted by the hotel. Those are beautiful to look at, but if you want to see what the hotel is really like, scroll through the traveler photos. To find these, just click on Traveler Photos in the upper right-hand corner of the hotel’s review page.

    Trip Advisor Traveler Photos
    Image Credit: TripAdvisor

Hot Tip: You can get a wealth of information about a hotel, restaurant, activity, cruise, or vacation rental from TripAdvisor reviews. You can search the written reviews for specifics like, “Is there a heated pool?” Or check out the traveler photos for an unedited look at the property.

TripAdvisor Forum

The TripAdvisor travel forums are a great resource for anyone planning a trip.

From the TripAdvisor home page, click on More in the main search menu in the middle of the screen. Then click on Travel Forum from the drop-down box.

Trip Advisor Travel Forum
Image Credit: TripAdvisor

If you’ve already selected your destination, you’ll click on the 3 dots in the search bar at the top of the screen, then click on Travel Forum.

If you access the travel forum through the home page, you’ll need to select a destination to search. If you searched for a destination first and then accessed the travel forum, you’ll be automatically be taken to the forum for that destination.

There are general forums for states or countries and more specific city oriented forums. You can easily move back and forth between all of these forums by clicking on the links within the forum.

Trip Advisor Forums
You can easily toggle between different forums using the links within each forum. Image Credit: TripAdvisor

Tips for Making the Most out of TripAdvisor Forums

  1. One of the great things about TripAdvisor forums is that you can get really specific. This is a great place to search for answers that would be otherwise hard to find. The forums are filled with local experts (other TripAdvisor users who answer lots of forum questions and leave lots of reviews) to help you out.

    Try asking questions like: “What bar in Miami Beach shows the NBA Playoffs?,” “What restaurants in Charlotte are dog-friendly?,” “What’s the best way to get to the zoo in San Diego?” If you have a specific question, the TripAdvisor forum is the place to ask it.

  2. If you have a question that you think might be a common one, check out the list of common questions to the right side of the forums. Click on a link to take you to a previous thread about your question. Pay attention to the dates, though. Some of the threads may be outdated — so you may want to ask a new question for updated information.

    Trip Advisor Travel Forum
    Image Credit: TripAdvisor

Get Social With TripAdvisor

You may have noticed that the TripAdvisor home page has some social aspects to it now. You’ll see a main feed with the ability to like, repost, and share a post. You’ll see a list of suggested people to follow to the right.

How And Why To Create A TripAdvisor Account

In order to take part in the social aspect of TripAdvisor, you’ll need to create a free account. You’ll be able to create an account via Facebook, Google, or an email address. Click on Join in the upper right-hand corner to get started.

Trip Advisor
Image Credit: TripAdvisor

Once you create an account, you can follow other accounts and like, repost, and share other posts. Plus you can make your own posts by clicking on Share photos or Write review in the bottom left-hand corner of your account.

Trip Advisor account -
Image Credit: TripAdvisor

TripAdvisor Mobile App

TripAdvisor offers a free mobile app which is available for iPhone and Android.

It feels more like a social site than a travel booking and review site because the main feed is prominently placed on the home page. You can follow experts and other travelers for helpful tips and travel inspiration.

To access traveler photos and reviews, plus pricing and booking information click on the icons at the top of your screen. Here you’ll also find a direct link to TripAdvisor forums.

Trip Advisor Mobile App
Image Credit: TripAdvisor

Final Thoughts

TripAdvisor is more than just reviews! The site acts as a metasearch engine and helps you search for hotels, flights, rental cars, cruises, things to do, vacation rentals, and restaurants.

You can also get social on TripAdvisor. Create an account to share your photos and reviews, and follow other accounts to see their posts in your home feed.

Through traveler photos and reviews, TripAdvisor excels in giving you a glimpse into the true nature of every aspect of your vacation.


Featured Image Credit: Shutterstock.com

FAQ

How do I write a review on TripAdvisor?

To write a review on TripAdvisor, go to the listing page of what you want to review and scroll down to the Reviews section. You will see a green button labeled Write a Review. Click this to write and submit a review.

Or, if you’re already logged into your account, click on Write a Review on the lower left side of your screen under your profile information

How do I claim a TripAdvisor page?

To claim your business’ page on TripAdvisor, locate your page and scroll down and click on Manage This Business? in the details section. Then fill out the required information to contact TripAdvisor about your business.

Is TripAdvisor owned by Expedia?

At one point in their histories, TripAdvisor was owned by Expedia. However, in 2011 these companies split to form 2 separate entities.

TripAdvisor now owns its own group of subsidiary companies including airfarewatchdog.com, cruisecritic.com, flipkey.com, seatguru.com, and viator.com, among others.

Katie Seemann

About Katie Seemann

Katie is an Ohio native who caught the travel bug after spending a semester in college in Nottingham, England. In addition to exploring England, she visited Ireland, Scotland and the Netherlands during that time and loved every minute of it (everything except the hostel in Scotland - that's an experience she doesn't intend on repeating!). In late 2015, Katie discovered the world of points and miles, and it literally changed her life.

These travel secrets can be life-changing...

What if you & your family could explore more of the world than you ever thought possible - without blowing your savings?

Discover the real-life strategies that anyone can use to enjoy limitless travel (even on a limited budget!)

Just sign up below and we'll send you the Limitless Travel Playbook instantly:

We respect your privacy. Please view our privacy policy here.

Disclaimer: Any comments listed below are not from the bank advertiser, nor have they been reviewed or approved by them. No responsibility will be taken by the bank advertiser for these comments.

Any thoughts or questions? Comment below!

Email needed if you'd like comment updates. It will NOT be published.

Advertiser Disclosure

Many of the credit card offers that appear on this site are from credit card companies from which we receive compensation. This compensation may impact how and where products appear on this site (including, for example, the order in which they appear). This site does not include all credit card companies or all available credit card offers. For more information on our advertisers, see here.