With hotel rates on the rise, bargain-hunting has become ever more challenging. But there are still ways to nab a room for less online without wasting your entire day scouring the Internet.

So-called metasearch sites, like Kayak.com, Sidestep.com and Farechase.com, hunt for the cheapest prices for hotels, airlines and car rentals as well as deals at some online travel agencies. But unlike agency sites like Expedia.com or Travelocity.com, which require consumers to book with them in order to access their online rates, metasearch sites take consumers directly to the vendor's Web site to make a purchase.

By booking with the hotel directly, travelers can avoid any agency fees and take advantage of best-rate guarantees, offered by many hotels, that promise to match lower rates customers might find elsewhere after they make a reservation.

Source: The New York Times