No matter what you’re buying, you’re always looking to save yourself some money. There’s plenty of tried and tested methods for finding the best travel deals, some better suited for some people than others. We’ve rounded up 10 of the best tips to save some cash when booking, and traveling, on your next vacation.
Plan Early. Pay Early.
The planning stage is always the most important; it’s where all the hard work you put in will pay off come departure time. There’s a number of ways you can get the best deals by simply taking a little time to plan ahead. This is one time where the old adage, “Good things come to those who wait” isn’t quite right. Good things come to those that plan ahead and act early.
- Be alert by being alerted – Creating booking alerts is a great way to keep updated on the price of flights and hotels for your destination, such as airline newsletters, Google Travel alerts, resorts or other hot spots. Automating this part of the planning takes a lot of the hard work out of finding deals. Who’s got the time to spend hours and hours weekly surfing the dozens of travel sites looking and waiting for deals?
- Traveling in numbers? Great! – Often companies provide heavily discounted group rates. Group rates are commonly found when booking train tickets, if you’re traveling through Europe, and cruises if planning something in North America. So, if your trip includes a ride on the train, then you’re already on to a winner—but it’s always worth looking regardless of the transport links you’ll be using, events, or attractions you may be visiting during your vacation.
- Don’t get taken for a ride when you park – It goes without saying, parking at the airport can add a huge chunk to the price of your holiday, so the earlier you book your airport parking, the more money you can save. Money advice experts, Travel Supermarket, have said that you could save up to 60% at UK airports by booking in advance. You can also use offsite airport parking options too, like Park ‘N Fly and The Parking Spot in North America. These companies have EU affiliates too. These offsite parking lots, offer both covered and uncovered parking with free shuttles, to the terminal at a discounted rate to most airport parking options, and at times even offer added luxury benefits such as a car wash, oil changes, and VIP shuttle options.
Simplified ticket options don’t always translate to simplified costs
Most people will opt for a simpler option when booking their travel, simply because of the meaning of the word. But, you need to be wary of what you’re getting for your money. Don’t be suckered by the subtle psychology of marketing speak. Take a moment and weigh the options and the costs associated.
- You get what you pay for, which can be—not a lot – Beware of basic economy – new low fare prices offered by budget airlines (and an increasing number of mainline carriers) are designed to save you money. Perfect for the light packer or business tripper who only requires a small carry-on included in most basic economy options, but check before booking. Remember, as we discussed in a previous blog post, you may not always save money with these fares. Pre-booked seats and luggage are an optional extra, which could amount to more than the cost of a standard class ticket, so, again, be wary and always do the math!
- Connect to see more of the world for your money – If you’re traveling through Europe or heading across the Atlantic, it’s worth looking at connecting flights. If you’re flying from the UK, there won’t be many good deals available, as UK based airlines rarely discount fares from their hub airports, however, if time isn’t at the forefront of your mind, it may be worth looking at options to travel to connecting cities such as Amsterdam or Paris and travel backwards before moving forwards.
Time Is of The Essence
You don’t have to be bang-on-the-money when it comes to booking your ticket, so long as you know roughly how much you’d like to pay for your flight or hotel. With a price in mind, you’ll be less stressed waiting for prices to drop, and wondering if they ever will.
- Plan meticulously (The Long and Short of it) – According to research carried out by travel comparison website, Opodo, depending on where you’re traveling will ultimately determine when the best time to book your flights will be. For example, their study shows that January is the best time to book short-haul. And, if you can book them on a Wednesday, you’re more likely to get a better deal.
The best deals on long-haul flights can more frequently be found on Tuesdays in September. And, domestic routes might better be booked on Sundays during October. All this information is based around flights from the UK, and will vary. For the US, cheapair.com ran a similar study which showed you should book domestic US flights 3 weeks to 3 1/2 months in advance, international flights (originating in the US) 2 months in advance, flights to Europe 99 days in advance, and flights to the sunnier climes of the Caribbean 75 days in advance.
Booking as soon as holidays go on sale is a sure way to get where you want to be, but it’s not always the best rule to follow if saving money is your goal.
- Avoiding the Rush – It may go without saying, traveling at off-peak times will be cheaper than going during school holidays or peak hours. Granted, some people don’t have a choice but to travel at peak times - which is where our tips will come in useful - but, for flexible travelers, make sure you do your homework to know when the schools are on break. It’s advisable to use the filters on price comparison sites as these can come to your advantage, and be open to traveling at “unsociable hours” to maximize your savings.
Tech and Loyalty are game changers
As the world adapts to the tech boom, travel companies are exploring different ways of providing the best service to travelers around the globe. From push notifications on apps, to loyalty solutions, there’s something out there to help everyone.
- Points mean prizes, so stack them up and make it an advantage – You can accumulate flight miles or loyalty points for your favorite hotel chains simply by going about your daily life. If you know you’ll be flying with a particular airline, it’s definitely worth looking at their loyalty plans. Some airlines have deals with credit card companies, which offer a generous incentive when you spend a certain amount in the first month. You can then continue to collect points by using that card in the run up to booking your flight. Credit cards with reward programs may also have deals with certain retailers which earn higher points, or other rewards, per dollar spent than in others. You may want to adapt your routine to make the most of these rewards, and why wouldn’t you if you want to earn free miles for everyday amenities you already purchase? Just be wise to pay off the balance each month so you don’t find yourself with free miles and no money left to use while on vacation.
- There’s an app for that – Yes, there’s an app available for just about everything these days. Take a look around the app store to find those that will help with your holiday planning, and execution! We’d recommend downloading apps which will aid your flight (Hopper) and/or hotel search, one to track currency exchange rates, like Clear Currency. You’ll also want to know what’s recommended to do in the city or town you’re visiting, Time Out scours the web for the best deals on attractions and events. Roadtrippers allows you to enter Point A and B and select what sort of adventures, restaurants, etc you’re looking for, and will list out places to visit along your route.
Have you downloaded our new Priority Pass app? There’s a brand new look and feel with improved navigation, up-to-date entitlement information on your account, 7 new language options, including a dual-language functionality to help interact with airport staff who don’t speak your preferred language among a whole host of other exciting new updates! Download it from the App Store or Google Play today!
Downloading these apps will not only help your pre-travel planning, but also while you’re there.
Keep your options open
Not just good dating advice. If you have a specific city in mind, do some research before you begin to look for flight prices. You may find that you’d prefer to stay in a surrounding area which can change your options significantly.
- Are you mainstream, or low-key? – Do you have to travel to the major airport in the city your traveling to? Always try to consider nearby airports to save some cash. E.G. Flying in to Miami vs Ft Lauderdale. However, if you’re looking at this option, work out how much extra ground transportation will cost, you may not find it worth the money/hassle—and then again, you might.
Now that you have some solid ideas for stretching your dollar, get out there, get searching and find the best deals you can! Happy Travels!