Finding Travel Bargains Online: How Much You Save Depends on How Well You Look!

How Much You Save on Vacation Costs Depends on How Well You Look!

 



Finding Travel Bargains Online

How Much You Save Depends on How Well You Look!
by George C. Jobel

Ever felt like it's a jungle out there? You're not alone. Finding travel bargains online can be tedious, even frustrating. Then you get the good rate, and sit on a plane next to someone who paid $120 less.. GRRRR..

Well, here are some practical tips to reduce your frustrations and leave more green in your wallet. Ready?

First - Start early! If you want to travel somewhere next summer, start looking now. Don't book now, just start looking. Over time you will get a sense of what you can expect for costs next summer so you can plan, budget and prepare. When you are ready to book, you won't be wringing your hands hoping you're getting a good price!

Second - Get enrolled. Sign up to watch airfares. If you plan to fly to Denver, or have friends or family there, watch the fare. This is easily done at AirFareWatchDog.com or a score of other sites. If you like to just get away spontaneously, subscribe for departure point airfares. Ridiculously cheap airfares can be found if you are paying attention. Week ending September 16, 2012 for instance, you could book Boston round trip departures to either Dallas or Chicago for $58 or Puerto Rico for $218.

Third - Think big. When you get ready to book, book as many services as you need, all at once. Need a car, hotel and rental? Do it all at once, rather than piecemeal. Almost always you will come out ahead.

Fourth - Start bidding. Do you like gambling? Do you like deals? I once saw a two week, all inclusive, airfare included trip to Brazil go for $17pp. It was short notice, but it was real. Get to know SkyAuction.com, or UBidUGo.com. If you have a large group (perhaps your adult children and their families) try FamilyGetAway.com. With a little effort you can find deals on 3 bedroom villas, etc.

Caution: Always read the fine print with bidding and travel sites. Make sure you understand the offer and any additional fees that may apply.

Fifth - Start booking. The best sites for your travel booking will vary depending on your needs and travel mode.

Airfare - For airfare alone, use Kayak.com or Travelocity.com. Both will let you know the cheapest flights from among many sites, then transport you to the sites of your choice to check availability.

Cruises - Cruises offer some of the best discounts in the whole travel industry. Their inclusive plans provide a plethora of food and amenities and usually amazing optional shore excursions at additional fees. Discounts tend to vary widely by date of departure date. The same already-discounted trip/itinerary may cost 1/2 less just one week later so do try to be flexible with dates. Soon-departure cruises usually have the best discounts, and savings are easily found for Miami departures. Many cruise lines will discount children's fares at half-off, and some let them sail for free so pay attention! If you are traveling for a special occasion (honeymoon, etc.) we recommending calling, not booking online.

Please note too that advertised costs usually don't include port charges or other fees, and depending on the cruise line, suggested tipping for your wait staff can be as much as $30 per person, per day, but all in all, cruises can still be an amazing deal.

For booking, try CruiseCritic.com, USAirwaysCruises.com and CheapCruises.com. Be sure to read the fine print.

Hotels - Imagine a hotel being like a concert hall. Ticket agencies buy 'blocks' of rooms in advance throughout the year. When you call a hotel for availability, they may have none, but the agencies that bought blocks of their rooms might easily have some available. That also explains a wide variety of pricing for the same room. The closer the date, often the cheaper the cost from the aggregators.

If you are looking predominately for hotel deals, I prefer Trivago.com. It compares pricing from scores of other sites, provides property quality and consumer satisfaction scores, and is very clean and easy to use. What I don't like about this site, is that it seems to completely omit smaller markets: you can't find any information about Plymouth, NH for instance. That aside, it's a great tool. Kayak provides essentially the same information, includes those smaller markets, but is far less user friendly.

For additional research I prefer Travelocity and Priceline.

Vacations - For complete vacations (airfare & lodging) try airline web sites. They always seem to have good deals which makes sense - they have control of the flight costs. You should also check out Expedia's Vacation Packages. Their prices are guaranteed to be the lowest. Be sure to also check out their Deals & Offers. Also try ShermansTravel.com, VacationsToGo.com, TravelZoo.com, SmarterTravel.com.

Simple Getaways - If you and your special 'other' just like weekends or mini vacations, getaways within a couple hours' drive, subscribe to Groupon and LivingSocial or try bidding at Priceline.com.

Holiday Travel - Don't wait for the last minute! Waiting can cause serious heartburn and potentially leave you without any seats. To save money travel the days no one else wants to fly, i.e. Thanksgiving, Christmas Eve, or Christmas. Also consider 'nearby' airports, like Newark instead of NYC, etc. Don't spoil a great holiday by waiting and hoping to pinch a few pennies.

Thinking of traveling internationally? Start the passport process now! Remember that in the southern hemisphere seasons are opposite to ours. Check for any visa requirements and the local climate for your intended travel dates prior to booking. Once booked, speak to your doctor, credit card company and bank. You might need shots, and no one wants to be overseas expecting a fun time, and discover their financial institution's security measures innocently freeze your account until you can contact them.

If you want to be socially responsible and can be flexible, why not help good charities too. Surf on over to Charity Buzz and see what they have to offer. I see occasional GREAT deals there, and often the deals are good, although the assortment is usually 'upscale' and quite limited!

RELATED ARTICLE:
When Using A Travel Agent Makes Sense


About the Author

George C. Jobel does web development and SEO consulting and has been helping clients develop successful online & multimedia marketing since 1995. The author of numerous articles, George has taught numerous web development, marketing and Internet classes since 2000. You can reach him at his web site, or 603.491.4340.

 

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