Traveling can be stressful — so it shouldn’t be expensive on top of that. If there’s a way to save money, we should, whether it’s because we’re booking a vacation, envisioning a lavish honeymoon, or traveling to see family over the holidays.
Here are some sites that can help make traveling as painless — and cheap — as possible.
AirfareWatchdog: This site is awesome if you have a destination in mind, or if you simply know you want to travel, but you don’t quite know where. AirfareWatchdog lets you set up airfare alerts that can be emailed to you every time a flight is listed that meets your criteria. You can get really specific by inputting you departure and arrival cities, or you simply receive alerts for their cheapest deals. (Yesterday I got an alert for a flight from Hartford, CT, to Cancun, Mexico, for only $303.)
TravelZoo: I’ve subscribed to TravelZoo for years, and I love it. Each week, they email their Top 20 list, which includes the 20 best travel deals they’ve scoured from the internet. These can include everything from cheap stays at B&Bs to all-inclusive resort stays on an island to discounted tickets to a Broadway show. You can also sign up for local deals, similar to places like Groupon. I’ve purchased several uotings through TravelZoo and never been disappointed!
Groupon, Living Social: You probably already receive at least one of these emails in your daily inbox. They’re great for local deals — but they can be great for travel deals, too. If you know where you’re headed, sign up to receive coupons a couple of weeks or months prior to your trip and you could nab deals for things to do while on your vacation.
Expedia, Travelocity, and Priceline: These “online travel agent” sites can be your best friend when you’re booking a trip and feeling a little overwhelmed. They often do the price comparisons for you, and sometimes they can help you tackle all of your travel needs in one fell swoop. Need info on flights, hotels, and a car rental? You got it. Some of these sites also offer mystery pricing, which can be a steal. You won’t know all of the details about your hotel or flight, but you’ll know the important stuff, such as how highly they’re rated and (of course) the cost, which is often cheaper than any price listed elsewhere. (But sometimes these purchases don’t mention certain details, like whether you’ll need to pay for parking. So be mindful of where you’re traveling, and do some research beforehand.)
HomeAway: It may seem weird to stay in a stranger’s home, but this trend is becoming a big part of travel. HomeAway helps connect you with vacation rental homes. It includes reviews for each one, so it’s easy to compare.
Other Suggestions for Travel Deals
- Travel light. Airlines are cracking down not just on the number of bags you can have, but how heavy they can be.
- When searching for flights, try traveling on Tuesdays, Wednesdays, or Saturdays, which tend to be cheapest to fly. Avoid Friday and Sunday if you can.
- Meanwhile, the best time to buy your airline tickets is Tuesdays at 3 p.m.
- Sign up for deal alerts long before you want to take your trip. This way, there isn’t any rush to find something right away and you really can wait for the right deal to come along.
- Keep an eye on the Twitter accounts of your favorite airlines. They often tweet out great deals, which don’t last long!
- Go straight to the source: That’s right — book right through the hotel or airline and skip the online travel agencies all together. Sometimes, that really is the best way to get a good deal, and hotels/airlines may be better able to accommodate you and your requests if you book straight through them.
What do you do to make sure you’re getting the best travel deals?