Whether planning a vacation, a business trip or a getaway to see family, traveling is a very expensive, yet important part of life. In this article, I’ll share some ideas to help you find ways to save money when booking a flight, hotel, and rental car to make your experience less stressful and lighter on your wallet.
There are many websites designed to help you find the “cheapest fare”. Some of them are good at this while others are not. I have been to many of these sites and after much research, I recommend checking out these 4 sites:
For me, these sites seem to consistently have the best deals. For the most part, they get their quotes from the same place but may have a special fare on some airlines so be sure to check them all without relying on just one.
What is more important than the actual site is how you use the site as a tool to comparison shop. When searching for a plane ticket, start at these sites. Assuming your trip is more than one month away, check these sites daily for at least one week to get a feel for whether prices are rising or falling. Write down the names of the airlines offering the cheapest 5 fares from each site.
From there, go directly to the airline websites and see if their own price beats the offering on the comparison site. The airline will generally have a better deal than your comparison site is offering. Why? These sites get paid a commission by the airline for flights they book. If you book directly on the airlines website, they pay no such commission and can therefore offer you a cheaper rate.
Once you have your cheapest rate, call your local travel agent. Share the deal you have with them and ask them if they can beat it. If yes, book with the agent. If not, book your fare online.
Shopping for a hotel room will work in much the same way as shopping for airfare. You should check the comparison sites, then call the actual hotel directly, then your travel agent.
Assuming the actual hotel offers the best rate, call them back and try to negotiate even further by asking for an even cheaper rate. If that is not possible, ask for a free night, spa or entertainment credit, or even complimentary mini-bar or dining. You might be able to squeeze the hotel for one or more of these perks.
Once you have completed your stay and are checking out, thank the front desk for a pleasant stay and ask them once more for a discount to intrigue you to return. This may seem to border on desperate but if that doesn’t bother you, it might just work.
When pricing a car rental, apply the same rules listed above for airfare and hotels. Unless your co-travelers and/or luggage will not fit, always order the cheapest car available. Unless you’re traveling on busy travel dates, this will allow you the opportunity to ask for a free upgrade when you arrive to pick up your car. I have done this myself and have many family and friends who have been successful in this as well.
Most travel websites market themselves as a one-stop shop for you booking needs. Although they have all of the offerings, you may not necessarily be offered the best deal you can find in one or all of the categories. It always pays to check these sites first but make sure to follow the guidelines above and comparison shop for the best deals.