We’ve all heard the stories of people staying up until the middle of the night to book a fare so phenomenally low it makes the national news. And while I’m certainly thrilled for those who manage to accomplish these minor miracles, most of us just want to get the best deal we can without very much stress. Here are five easy ways to save some money booking travel online.
5. Package Deals Save Money and Hassle
This works particularly well with discount websites such as Expedia, which even advertises the fact that you can often save more by booking hotel rooms at the same time as rental cars or airline tickets. Also, don’t assume that the best price can only be found by using a third-party booking service. Often, the hotel chain’s website can beat discount site prices with special package deals that wrap up food, entertainment and overnight accommodations. When visiting the St. Kitts Marriott at certain times of year, for example, it’s possible to book midrange room rates that come with bar beverages and meal items included, along with a day on the golf course or at the on-site spa.
4. Don’t Forget Lesser-Known Travel Discount Sites
Sites like Priceline and Hotels.com offer plenty of travel deals to be sure, but there are many lesser-known sites you can check for great deals. SmarterTravel.com, for example, lets you sign up for automated deal alerts that originate at your airport of choice, and allows the selection of deals on a city-to-city route as well. So when that once-in-a-blue-moon deal on a flight from JFK to Heathrow comes around, you’ll be in the loop. Autofrance.net offers unlimited mileage with no international taxes on rental cars for your trip to Europe, provided you book the car while you are still in the United States and are not a citizen of the European Union.
Speaking of additional fees, if you’re traveling with Rover, then you’ll definitely want to check out PetsWelcome.com before purchasing or reserving your hotel room. Not only do they let you know which hotels along your route welcome your furry, four-legged friend, but also which establishments charge additional pet fees. This is a huge help when choosing which place to rest your head, particularly if you are on a lengthy trip. More of a spa fan? Spavelous.com has a large spa directory and lists location-specific deals for travelers.
3. Use Online Coupon Codes to Boost Savings
Paperless coupons are perfect for penny pinchers on the go. There’s no paper to clip and hold on to, and the savings are automated once you hit the purchase confirmation button. One of the most popular sites to grab coupon codes for nearly anything is RetailMeNot.com, which also includes travel expenses like hotel rooms. Company websites often have coupon codes listed as well. One of the more underutilized strategies is to follow the RSS feed of well-known travel bloggers. Affiliate marketing is big business and tourism program managers will often assign an exclusive code to a particular web site editor in the hopes of capturing that particular site’s audience.
2. Sign Up For Many Different Hotel Loyalty Programs
The airlines aren’t the only ones reaching out to frequent travelers. Virtually all the hotel chains have gotten into the game as well. Savvy business travelers already know this, enjoying the perks of Marriott Rewards, Hilton Honors and the other popular programs. But to take advantage of potential savings, join every possible hotel rewards club, even for chains where you don’t stay that frequently. Sign up for the email updates. Yes, you’ll get plenty of useless offers to filter through. Once in a while you’ll find a gem, a chain offering double or triple airline miles or 10,000 bonus points for booking a weekend stay.
1. Auction Sites Usually Offer Best Deal For Savings
If you have a little extra time and patience, consider an online auction site to see just how low you can go with your travel expenses. Again, in addition to checking the most popular sites, search some of the lesser-known sites for some surprising deals. For example, SkyAuction.com lets you bid on a number of travel expenses like dining, flights, luxury experiences and more. With savings averaging around 60 percent, these discount sites are definitely worth exploring if you have some time to plan ahead.