Traveling is very exciting and especially when planning that long awaited vacation or even just a quick weekend getaway it can often get confusing and frustrating with so many travel sites out there. There’s not always a simple way but through a lot of travel, and hit and misses, I have found a few tips that have often worked in my favor to book a trip on a budget. All planning starts with a budget, and depending what services you are looking for, here are a few tips. Research is key.. Amenities right for you? Are you up to the challenge? Get those points! Let's Get To It When you first decide to plan a trip, be sure to give yourself a good amount of time and a quiet place for comparison online shopping. This is important to finding the best deals out there and to learn the best times to book travel and hotel. It’s been said for the past 30 years, that airlines seem to have better priced fares at the beginning of the week, and even after all this time, it is still holding to be true. So try your search Monday through Wednesday and you may be surprised how much you can save, these days have been known as the best times to book flights. Where To Start My first stop, with the ease of instant comparison shopping would be several of the travel sites such as Travelocity, Orbitz, Kayak, and Expedia. All of these will give you a rundown on many of the airline prices. Based on the lowest fare you find, go directly to the website of the airline with the lowest price to compare. Surprisingly, it often varies and you could find a better deal booking direct, yet sometimes you're better off on a travel site. Also, look into the surrounding airports, fares can vary and you could save over $100 on any given day. Depending on your destination, consider checking Virgin America and Jetblue as sometimes these airlines do not come up on the travel sites and it could be well worth the extra clicks on the mouse and they have great amenities as well. This is why research is key.
Another important option to take into consideration are the amenities included on the flight. Some airlines will offer an exceptionally low fare, yet by the time you have paid for a carry on, a seat, and beverages, you may have actually spent more than budgeted. An interesting feature that is making a comeback on some of the major airlines, such as Delta and American, they now offer complimentary inflight movies and free wifi on select flights, and will soon be bringing back free food in coach on their long haul flights to and from LAX - JFK. Be sure to check with the airline directly though as changes in policy can often occur. Consider how much you need to pay for that bag, snack, and movie, and see if included amenities are right for you.
Flight times and layovers can also be a determining factor on your fare. The red eye flights are often less money and your early morning flights tend to be the most. So if you are up the challenge, consider taking the redeye flight and not only can you save some money you can also gain some extra hours to enjoy your holiday.
When it comes to hotels, I follow much the same rule as i do for the airlines. Just be sure your comparison hotels include all taxes and resort fees, and be sure to check parking rates if you will have a car. I have often found travel sites can have much better pricing and some of the big chains, Marriott, Hilton, etc. will honor the prices found on travel sites and give an added discount if you can prove the rate.
Another option, and one that for me has proven to be very beneficial would be the use of one of the home rental sites. Airbnb is very well known and a great choice, but also try HomeAway and VRBO. These sites offer beautiful residences and can be just the getaway for a family or group vacation at a substantial savings over a hotel.
Travel Points and Rewards
Though you may have your favorite travel rewards programs, be sure to sign up and get those points, should you fly a new airline or stay at a different hotel, you never know, they may just become your new favorite!, It's surprising how quickly points can add up for great perks!