“Kathleen, I am interested in coming to your conference in Belize, and I need to know the best flight routes from Puerto Vallarata, Mexico, to Belize City. Could you help?”
— Ron T., United States
We’re big fans of Kayak.com, which is an aggregator. It takes results from searches of Expedia, Travelocity, airline websites, etc., and compiles them for reference at one time. Typically, you can’t beat it.
Sidestep.com is an alternative, a clone.
Bing.com/travel is also good, because, for certain cities, it provides a fare forecaster. In other words, it can tell you when it can make sense to wait a few days to buy your tickets (they claim about 75% accuracy with fare predictions). Unfortunately, to date, the predictor works for U.S. domestic and Canadian flights only.
Priceline.com is noteworthy because of its bidding model. You suggest the price you want to pay (for an airfare, a hotel, a car rental, etc.), then Priceline comes back to tell you whether any airline, hotel, or car rental agency accepts the bid.
In your case, to travel to Belize City to join us for the conference next month, you could fly Continental and AeroMexico via Mexico City and Houston for US$811. Or you could travel on Continental only via Houston; the price is US$1,019. You’d be paying an additional US$200 to save one connection and about one hour of travel time.
“Kathleen, I’m looking for some advice regarding working via the web in Ecuador (Cuenca, Quito, or Guayaquil). Would you please give me your thoughts?”
— Dorothy R., United States
Latin America Correspondent Christian MacDonald, who has lived in Ecuador, responds:
“Among the cities you mention, the Internet infrastructure is about the same. In Cuenca (smaller than either Quito or Guayaquil), where my wife and I lived, we had a choice of several ISPs. The prices varied with the speed of the connection you subscribed to. You’ll find ADSL, cable, and antenna delivery, which is what I had. In more than five years living there, my Internet connection was never out of service.
“You can expect the same in Quito or Guayaquil.
“In rural areas of Ecuador, however, Internet service can be unreliable. In Vilcabamba and Otavalo, for example, I’ve heard frequent complaints about reliability.”