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Travel

Great Ways to Travel With No Hassle

Our top picks for on everything from travel deal sites to loyalty programs.

Sifting through flight, hotel and cruise options can be overwhelming. To make your choices easier, we point you to the best travel booking sites, loyalty programs, airlines, cruise lines and more. Besides saving money (and avoiding unnecessary fees), our picks will also help you have a smoother, hassle-free journey.

Airline for On-Time Arrival

Among airlines that traverse the continental U.S., Alaska Airlines is the most punctual carrier of 2015. More than 86% of its flights arrived on time.

Airline for Baggage Handling

Virgin America passengers can breathe easier knowing that the airline has lost fewer than one bag per 1,000 passengers in 2015.

Airfare Comparison Site

Google Flights spotlights itineraries with the best combination of price, duration, stops and more, while map and bar-graph tools help you explore cheaper destinations and dates.

Hotel Booking Site

Reviews on Trip­Advisor are plentiful and geared to the type of traveler, whether it's a family or someone traveling solo. The site has photos and maps that pinpoint nearby restaurants and sights. Best of all, a search for hotels links to results from several popular booking sites, including Expedia and Booking.com. Or you may be able to reserve through Trip­Advisor's instant booking feature.

Loyalty Program

American Airlines AAdvantage still lets you earn miles based on how far you fly, not how much you spend. You can also rack up miles on a couple of dozen partner airlines that reach almost 1,000 destinations worldwide. On the hotel front, Marriott Rewards is best for the typical leisure traveler, with a robust network of hotels around the world and plenty of ways to redeem points besides hotel stays.

Expedited Security Service

For domestic fliers, TSA PreCheck ($85 for five years) will let you keep your shoes on as you go through security screenings in many U.S. airports. But international travelers should pay the extra $15 for Global Entry, which also lasts five years. You’re eligible for the same PreCheck benefits and get a speedier trip through Customs when you return to the U.S.

Carry-On Luggage

The compact Travelpro Crew 10 International Carry-on Spinner ($195 on eBags.com) meets the stringent size guidelines for international travel. It’s lightweight (6.8 pounds), durable and comes with a limited lifetime warranty. If you mostly travel domestically, go with the Travelpro Crew 10 21-inch expandable spinner (also $195 at eBags.com). It meets domestic guidelines for overhead bins and weighs 8.4 pounds.

Cruises

Luxury: The ships of Crystal Cruises are larger than typical luxury liners but offer attentive service, with one of the highest passenger-to-staff ratios in the industry. The cruise line also offers exotic routes, such as a trip through the Northwest Passage in Canada. (All cruise picks are by the editors of CruiseCritic.com.)

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Families: Royal Caribbean International caters to all age groups, with nurseries for babies, rock climbing and zip-lining for teens, and Broadway shows, spa services and a casino for grown-ups. Staterooms are family-friendly, too, accommodating up to 16 passengers.

Value: Inside cabins go for as little as $75 per person on Carnival Cruise Line, and many restaurants and activities—including poolside movies and live music—are included in the base price.

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