Travel Deal Basics : 6 Tips to Find the Best Travel Deal
I think my most asked question is how to find a deal on a vacation. And of course, I live for this question! My biggest thrill in life is finding the perfect vacation and paying less for it than anyone else did. It makes me feel like I won! ;)
I will share my best secrets with you right here so you can find the best deal for your next trip!
1. Subscribe to a travel deal finding service
My favorites are:
These are my favorite sites to subscribe to and I know there are a lot of other great ones too. It’s such an awesome free resource to have a site sending you deals every week without you having to spend the time looking yourself.
Airfare Watchdog is great because it will tell you all the cheapest flights from your local/favorite airport . When you subscribe, they will send you an email with that week’s list of cheap flights. And if there is a particular route you are looking for, you can ask the site to send you alerts when there is a change in price. They are great at finding pricing mistakes too which works out to your benefit.
Travelzoo has been a favorite of mine for a long time. When you subscribe to their “Top 20”, they will send you an email every Wednesday with the top 20 travel deals they have found all over the internet. I have found several great trips on this and every single one has been amazing. You can trust any site they send you to because they have done their research and will give you any tips for booking. One of the best deals I found was a 7 day trip to Thailand for $699pp – it included airfare out of LAX, great hotel accommodations, breakfast every day and a tour guide for the first day. If Travelzoo hadn’t recommended it, I would have thought it was too good to be true!
2. If you are shopping for a vacation, book flight and hotel together
I have always found that when I’m shopping for a trip for specific dates, you can save a lot of money by booking as a package.
My favorite vacation package websites are:
These are all pretty much the same with the exception of Kayak. Expedia, Travelocity, Orbitz and Priceline will have similar deals and you can compare all of them to see which site truly has a better deal for what you are looking for. Kayak can be great because it usually compares all of those sites for you. I find that it is not always accurate though. The other great think about Kayak is that it will tell you if prices have gone up or down lately.
When traveling to Europe, I prefer booking the entire trip using:
These are great travel services that can package together your whole trip while still letting you customize flights, hotels and transportation between cities. One of my favorite trips was our trip through Italy which we booked through European destinations. We hit 3 cities and our entire trip was just over $1000pp.
3. ALWAYS SEARCH IN A PRIVATE BROWSER
Have you ever noticed that prices keep going up on flights or trips you have been searching? Sites try to scare you into booking by raising prices when they notice a particular flight or vacation is being searched repeatedly from your browser.
In your browser, make sure to select “new private window” or similar depending on what browser you use. I use Safari, and you can either select that option under “File” or you can use the shortcut “shift + command + N”.
4. Use a great flight search engine!
I have several that I like for different reasons.
Google flights is great because it searches several airlines. One of my favorite things about it is that you can just pick a date and it will tell you how much it is to fly to several destinations. I have found this to be a great tool when we have a small break with our kids during the school year and we don’t really care where we go, we just want to go!
Momondo is another good one because it does a pretty broad search. Another thing I like about it is that it will show you an easy to read graph at the top of your search so you can easily see the cheapest departure and return dates for your route.
Skyscanner is a go to and is super easy to use. It searches a ton of sites for great deals. It also has an option to show you the best time to fly over a whole month. I would totally recommend downloading the app too. It is very user friendly.
Airwander is a really cool site because it gives you the option of adding in a stopover in another city. I just booked a trip to Bali and I added in a stopover in Hong Kong because it is one of my favorite cities and why not visit when you are already on that side of the world? It also saved us a ton of money to do that. You can have a lot of fun on this site!
Jet radar is awesome because it searches a lot of the budget airlines that aren’t included on other search engines.
Kayak is also great for flights too. One of the best things about this site is that it will tell you to buy now or wait for cheaper fares based on trends. It doesn’t have a broad search though so that is something to consider.
5. Buy on the cheapest day of the week
Although there are exceptions, I have found that the cheapest days of the week to buy airfare are Tuesday and Wednesday. The airlines’ sales usually come out in the middle of the week so these days seem to be the best ones to catch a cheaper airfare.
6. Time your booking right
Typically, I find that booking your airfare is cheapest in the 120-60 day window before your trip. I usually set an alert in my calendar to start looking for flights starting at 120 days out from a trip if I already know I need to plan a trip for a certain time or already have accommodations booked.
This is not a rule of thumb though. If you know you are going, start looking as early as you can and sign up for alerts on airfare as mentioned above. If you are planning vacations during a holiday like Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Years, start searching as early as you can for deals. Although it is more expensive to travel during those times, deals can still be had! You just have to keep an eye out for them as early as you can. I have noticed that even Travelzoo will have deals for travel during the holidays and you just have to grab them as soon as you see them.
I hope this helps in all your deal finding endeavors! Please comment or email me if you have any questions about finding your next travel deal!