There’s nothing more depressing than not being able to take a summer vacation. For some reason wading around in an inflatable pool while your kids yell at you that it’s their turn just doesn’t cut it. Lucky for you, you have come across this incredibly informative post that I promise will save you a ton of money on your next vacation. Unfortunately, I can’t help you figure out what to do with those screaming kids while you’re on vacation.
To save the most on flights
1. Be flexible on dates
Sites like Kayak.com and Orbitz.com both have a tool that allow you to search three days before and after the dates you’re requesting to see if you can save money by being a little flexible. Especially when traveling on the weekend, departing first thing Monday morning as opposed to Sunday night usually means big savings.
2. Be flexible on where you go
Kayak’s “Explore” tool allows you to search all destinations in the world within a specified price range, flight time and vacation activity like beach or skiing. AirfareWatchdog.com also has a great feature that will alert you to all the cheap round-trip fares they find departing from your local airports to multiple destinations.
This is great if you need to just get the hell out of town and don’t care where you go. Being a little adventurous can save big, and who knows? Maybe you’ll find a new hidden gem. Just don’t go anywhere sketchy where you could be sold into the sex slave industry, unless you’re currently looking for a new career path.
3. Know when to buy
Bing Travel has a “price predictor” tool that forecasts if fares will rise or fall, allowing you to decide if you should hold off on buying, but experts say it’s best to shop on tuesday mornings, since fare sales are often launched Monday nights and other airlines have matched their prices by the next day. Also, for domestic flights, the sweet spot for cheapest fares seems to be about six weeks in advance.
If you screw up and overpay for your flight, don’t fret. Sign up with Yapta.com – the site tracks fares and sends an email if the price of your selected flight drops AFTER you buy your ticket. They will then walk you through the process to see if you can be refunded on the difference. It’s usually in the form of a travel credit, but it’s better than a slap in the face (unless you’re into that sort of thing).
4. Use all of your resources
* Seatguru.com: Before you pay $50 for a seat upgrade that gives you about 1/2″ extra legroom, check this site to see which seats are actually worth the upgrade.
* Find your flights using a search engine like Orbitz or Kayak, but then book the fare you choose on the airlines actual website for the best deal, as well as no booking or additional cancellation fees these sites may charge (like Orbitz, who charges an additional $30 cancellation fee on top of the airlines fees – total scam).
* Always re-check the price of your flight in the morning. If prices have gone down, you generally have 24 hours to cancel your flight and rebook at the lower price without penalty.
* Check surrounding regional airports: Click this box in the search field and keep your location broad. For example, I always do a search for “NYC” instead of specifically JFK, since flying out of Newark, NJ is almost always cheaper, and just as easy to get to. Same goes for flying into Miami – flying into Fort Lauderdale is usually less, even when you factor in the more expensive cab ride.
Save on hotels
Priceline is my favorite tool for booking hotels. Would you ever dare to question William Shatner?! You select a minimum star class and preferred neighborhood, and then get to haggle for your price. You can save up to 60% off published rates, and bids less than $100/night on luxury lodgings are not unheard of, especially for last minute bookings on rooms the hotel is trying to get rid of.
If you want to know how to form a winning bidding strategy, use TheBiddingTraveler.com & BetterBidding.com. Both tools use algorithms to calculate and execute optimum bidding strategies on Priceline. Yes, it’s that serious.
Save on car rentals
Use Hotwire.com – they offer the best published deals on cars by collecting rates from its partners, including Avis, Budget and Enterprise. They also offer “hot rates” from companies that aren’t identified until after you’ve paid. Fortunately, the risk in booking blindly for rental cars is minimal since there really isn’t much of a difference between cars or rental companies.
Priceline also offers a “name your own price” for car rentals that has saved me a lot of money in the past. Especially for last minute rentals, you can save big asking for a lower price.
Always book the cheapest car rental option. They usually run out of economy cars, and this means a free upgrade for you. If you get stuck with the economy, just think you’ll probably save money on gas, so it’s a win-win. Also always check for promo codes for rental companies. Just google the car company name + promo code and use the best promo code that works.
Now deflate that kiddy pool, put down that chocolate cake, do a few crunches and get ready for the best summer vacation ever.
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