Here are some ways I have found to save a few dollars while traveling.
There is no secret sauce for cheap travel. You have to shop around, compare dates and cities, and be a little bit flexible. If anyone tells you they have THE answer or THE best deal, don’t believe them – you need to shop around and compare.
If you don’t care about the exact hotel you stay in, consider using Hotwire. You can select the area of a city you wish to stay, and Hotwire will provide you with a list of prices. The only catch, you don’t get the name of the hotel until after you book. The site does list the hotel’s star rating so this will indicate the general level of comfort you can expect.
One of the lesser known travel deal websites is Priceline. Priceline has two interesting services. The first, the ability to look for a hotel in much the same as Hotwire: you don’t know the name of the hotel until after you book. The second, and coolest feature, is the ability to bid on plane and hotel prices. You enter the price you want to pay, the dates you wish to travel, etc, and your price. If an airline/hotel accepts the bid, you get the hotel/airplane ticket for cheap! I have paid $70 for a night in a very luxurious and expensive European hotel (even Hotwire had this hotel listed at $130 (I’m guessing from the star rating and features listed)). An opportunity to get extremely cheap flights or accommodations if your bid is worthy of a hotel/airline accepting.
Hostel World is, in my opinion, the premier hostel site available online. I have not heard of anyone having major issues when using this service, and the list of hostels in each city is comprehensive. Many modern hostels offer private/double rooms if you don’t want to share a dorm room.
Google is at it again with Google Flights! Enter the city you wish to depart from, the city you wish to fly to, and Google Flights does the rest. The best part, switch to graph view and you can compare up to 14 days before/after. As Google works on this product, only flights to/from North America seem to work.
If you are shopping around and find a good price on Expedia, Orbitz, Travelocity, etc, visit the hotel’s/airline’s website before completing the purchase. Even if the hotel’s rate is only a few dollars more, it is sometimes worth paying this extra $5 for the better service you will receive (and a chance for upgrades or able to switch rooms if you don’t like your first room).
Before booking local accommodations or travel, ask friends and family who have been to/live in the city/country you wish to visit. They may know of some tips or tricks to get cheap accommodations or tickets. Also important, they can tell you the area of a city to look for hotels (what’s the point of finding a cheap hotel if it is going to take you 30+ minutes and $5 each way to get from your hotel to local sites/city).
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