Saving money on travel can be difficult. You can find cheap prices during the off-season, but you may be visiting your destination when the weather is less than ideal. Some attractions might even be closed for the winter. Luckily, there are other money-saving travel strategies. These include waiting for promotional prices from airlines and resorts, using rewards points from a credit card or frequent flier program, and purchasing package tours or group tours that are cheaper, overall, compared to getting separate air tickets and hotel rooms.
It is possible to find sites on the internet where you can search for the best price on airfares and hotels. However, applying a few additional strategies can make it possible to assure yourself that you are getting a good deal every time that you make a travel-related purchase. Here are some ideals for saving money on your next trip:
Use rewards points from your credit card in addition to frequent flier miles
If you are a frequent traveller, the best money-saving strategy can be to collect rewards points from a travel credit card such as the American Express Gold Card or a credit card that is associated with a specific airline. You can then use whatever rewards that you earn to supplement the frequent flier miles you are awarded from flying. Save enough and you can enjoy a free flight or free upgrade a couple of times per year. Even if you are not a frequent flier, you can still use a travel rewards credit card to save money while flying. If you have a good credit history, you can apply for a card that has an introductory bonus offer. With such an offer, if you pass a certain spending threshold in the first two or three months of card ownership, you can get a block of bonus points that can be used to get a free flight or free upgrade.
Find a good package vacation
Finding a great deal on a package vacation is arguably the easiest way to save when traveling. Packages include airfare and hotel (and occasionally car rental as well). The advantage of vacation packages is that they come with deeply discounted hotel rooms. Many airfare plus hotel packages have prices that are not much more than the cost of a standard airplane ticket. The disadvantage of packages is that you can’t travel around a country or region on them because you are tied to a single hotel in one location.
‘Round the world airfares
These unique airfare deals are offered by some air ticket consolidators and also by airline alliances such as Oneworld, Star Alliance, and Sky Team. For not much more than the cost of a trans-ocean flight, you can travel around the globe, stopping in four or five or more cities along the way.“Circle fares” are a related type of airfare package that offer several flights to connected destinations within a specific region (such as East Asia, Europe, or South America). These fares are ideal for people who want to tour a region without being tied to one destination.
Discount sites or regional specialty sites
Discounts ticket brokers can occasionally have good deals. However, it might actually be better to find a site that specializes in a specific region. Such sites are generally able to offer the best deals to travelers because they have lower fees and charge a lower commission to the hotels and airlines that list with them. A prime example of this type of site is Agoda, a hotel booking portal for hotels in East and Southeast Asia. On Agoda, quoted prices are a few percentage points cheaper than on major booking sites, and Agoda’s low commission also attracts a number of budget-priced hotels, so budget travellers can easily book a room at a smaller guesthouse or hostel.
Use social media to find the latest promotions
Many airlines and hotels offer promotional prices, but it can be difficult to keep up with the latest offers. Some specially priced fares or hotel rooms are sold out even before you hear about the sale. The best way to keep up with flight deals is to follow your favorite airlines on Twitter. Some airlines even have special accounts where they only tweet about deals (@JetBlueCheeps, from American low-cost-carrier JetBlue, is probably the best known of these deal-specific Twitter accounts). Some airlines even have Twitter-only sales, so it can really pay to keep up with what these airlines are tweeting, even if you have to sift through non-deal-related tweets from time to time.
Josh Lew has travelled widely in Asia and the Americas. He has contributed to popular travel sites like Gadling and Brave New Traveler and currently writes a weekly travel column for MNN. His work has also appeared on the websites of CNN and Forbes Magazine.
Do you have any insights about finding cheap prices on airfares and hotel rooms? Please Share your knowledge in the comments section below.