Whether you’re booking flights to an international destination, a hotel in a major city, or tickets to a dinner show or attraction, you, of course, always want the best deals. At the same time, you might not want to sacrifice quality and experience when it comes to traveling.
With those things in mind, the following are some of the best travel booking hacks that you might not be using but should consider.
If you’re going to fly to your travel destination, use Google Flights, which features an Explore map. You can use the map to find the cheapest places you can fly from your local airport. You add your departure dates and city, but you leave your destination open. Then you can navigate around the map.
If you have flexible dates, you can also see the lowest prices in a window of time which can be set to a weekend, week, or two-week trip.
If you want to go to Paris, let’s say, but you’re willing to fly to another airport like London, Google Flights can help you save a lot of money.
If you simply know you want to go somewhere in the summer, as an example, you can also look around and see what interests you at the best price point.
The best days to fly are usually Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Saturdays. Not only are there fewer people flying on these days, but these are often less expensive times to book tickets.
Business travelers are usually in the air on Monday and Friday, and leisure travelers most frequently fly on Friday and Sunday.
Make sure you’re comparing your flight prices the right way. If you find a flight on a full-service carrier including a meal, a checked bag, and the chance to choose your seat, and it’s $100 more than a budget carrier flight, what will you end up actually paying on the budget carrier?
Just booking your bags alone could end up being more than the $100 ticket difference.
If you’re thinking about booking a basic economy ticket on a full-service carrier, how much would it cost you to then add the extras you may need, like seat selection and a checked bag? It could be cheaper to go ahead and get main economy instead of basic.
There are sites where you can find discounted one-way flights by searching for what are called hidden-city tickets. A hidden city means that you buy a ticket with your destination as a stopover on a multi-leg flight, which may be cheaper. If the flight you want is too expensive on a regular booking site, you may find good deals.
However, you won’t be able to check bags if you do this because you’re missing the connecting flight where the bags are actually going.
Depending on where you’re going, you might want to book travel packages from third-party vendors [like an educational travel package with Alandis Travel]. These packages will often include your accommodations and perhaps attraction tickets. The third-party vendor gets deals from the companies, which they can then pass on to their customers.
To save money on hotels, make sure that you’re creating an account with the company and signing in when you want to book. Most hotel companies offer rewards programs and member programs.
They may offer you an instantly lower price than you would get if you weren’t signed in, and then you can earn credit or free nights after you make a certain number of bookings.
When you’re shopping around for accommodations, you might come across a deal that seems great, but you’re not sure if that’s going to be part of your final plan. If you choose a hotel that has a free cancellation policy, you essentially hold that price.
Then if you find something else or it goes down from there, you can just cancel your other reservation and make a new one.
Be careful with cancellation policies, though, and make sure you read the fine print.
If you have a special occasion coming up when you’re traveling, like a birthday or anniversary, you may be able to get an upgrade if you contact a hotel directly. This doesn’t mean a holiday that most people celebrate, but something that really is special to you.
You can call the desk and ask them what they might have available.
Even if you don’t have a special occasion you’re celebrating, sometimes picking up the phone and calling a hotel the old-fashioned way can be a good way to get deals and upgrades. Hotel employees have a fair amount of leeway as far as what they can offer you when you call, and you may be able to access options not available online.
Some travel sites will offer mystery deals and last-minute bid opportunities. If you can be flexible with your travel time, you can save a lot of money. Mystery deals are when a hotel name isn’t revealed until after you pay, but you get a deep discount.
With bidding, you’re participating in a virtual auction, and you offer your price for a known hotel. If you win, you’re committing to paying the price.
Finally, if you’re going to a theme park or an amusement park, it’s rarely the case that it’ll be cheaper to buy direct. Instead, you’re going to almost always get a better deal if you buy from ticket sellers. Some offer a guarantee that their prices are the cheapest.
When you’re buying theme park tickets, there are other hacks you can use to save money as well.
One is looking for family tickets. If you have to buy tickets for a group you might get a discount.
Combination tickets are another option. When you buy combination tickets, it’s like the packages mentioned above. You’re getting tickets to multiple attractions for a discounted price.
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