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Four giant airline computer systems in the United States handle nearly all the airline reservations in the country. (They're known as CRSs, for computer reservations systems, or more often now GDS for global distribution systems.) Although each airline has a ``home'' CRS, the systems are all interlinked so that you can, with few exceptions, buy tickets for any airline from any CRS. The dominant systems in the U.S. are Sabre (home to American and US Airways), Galileo (home to United), Worldspan (home to Delta, Northwest), and Amadeus (many European lines.) The company that owned Galileo and Orbitz recently bought Worldspan, so the two GDS will presumably be merged. Many of the low-price start-up airlines don't participate in any of these systems but have their own Web sites where you can check flights and buy tickets. Southwest, the largest and oldest of the low-price airlines, doesn't participate, either. Southwest's web site gets car and hotel info from Galileo, but the info seems not to flow the other way. Orbitz one of the big three online travel agencies, runs its own system which is "direct connect" linked directly to many of the airlines.
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In theory, all the systems show the same data; in practice, however, they get a little out of sync with each other. If you're looking for seats on a sold-out flight, an airline's home system is most likely to have that last, elusive seat. If you're looking for the lowest fare to somewhere, check all four systems because a fare that's marked as sold out on one system often mysteriously reappears on another system. Some airlines have rules about flight segments that are not supposed to be sold together even though they're all available, and at least once I got a cheap US Airways ticket on Expedia, which didn't know about all the US Airways rules even though I couldn't get it on their own site or Travelocity which did know about them. On the other hand, many airlines have available some special deals that are only on their own Web sites and maybe a few of the online agencies. Confused? You should be. We are.
The first step to an international trip is to read our Traveler’s Checklist to find out things to consider before you go. Pay special attention to our safety and security information and assess for yourself the risk of traveling to a particular country or region. Some U.S. citizens with special considerations – such as students, women, and LGBTI travelers – may face additional challenges when abroad. If you do decide to travel, make a plan for what to do if something goes wrong overseas. 
Reasons for traveling include recreation,[5] tourism[5] or vacationing,[5] research travel,[5] the gathering of information, visiting people, volunteer travel for charity, migration to begin life somewhere else, religious pilgrimages[5] and mission trips, business travel,[5] trade,[5] commuting, and other reasons, such as to obtain health care[5] or waging or fleeing war or for the enjoyment of traveling. Travellers may use human-powered transport such as walking or bicycling; or vehicles, such as public transport, automobiles, trains and airplanes.

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