Part II of the Vacation Savings Series. Read from the beginning if you missed a segment.
Where do I search?
Everyone who watches television has seen a commercial for a travel search website like Expedia, Travelocity or Hotwire. While these sites search databases to find the lowest prices, their trips may end up costing you more.
Be certain to investigate these sites with JD Power, Kiplinger or Consumer Search before you use one. Travel Site Critic reviews and offers links to hundreds of travel booking sites on the Internet with the latest packages.
One and done…or not.
Be sure to compare the rate you get from a travel site with the actual hotel, cruise line or airline. Most booking sites charge a booking fee, which is not charged by the hotel, cruise line or airline if you book directly.
What you save in time on a search site may be costly to your wallet. You can get information about cancellation and change fees from the search sites, if you read all of the fine print.
Remember your travel agent? Did you check the agency’s website? Travel agents buy blocks of tickets at a terrific discount. Active agencies pass the savings onto their loyal customers. If you are flexible about destination and dates, you could save a bundle by buying the last tickets in a block.
But I still need a car…
When booking car rental, airfare and hotel together, the discount rate offered by a search site can save you money. Investigate before you book. If you need to change one portion of your booking, you will incur cancellation or change fees which may penalize your overall package price.
To save money, consider booking the hotel just outside your destination and renting a car. The discount on the hotel price could be large enough to cover the rental and cut taxi fees from your trip altogether.
If you have booked through a particular website before, you may be entitled to a discount. Register with the travel site for their rewards program. It could net you discounted entertainment, car rental or dining on your next vacation.
What about overseas?
For international travel, check the travel site’s off-shoot. Many large websites, like Expedia, operate in different countries. You can often find travel within the country listed cheaper on the foreign site. Searching the name of the site and the county nets you the address to the off-shoot site.
Country-specific websites cater only to tourists to their country. These websites package airfare and hotel or offer inclusive packages. Planning your vacation around a local festival or holiday can net big savings.
Frequent Flier Miles
If you fly enough to cash them in, save the money! If not, consider paying for your package with a reward credit card. You will earn rewards on travel toward more travel. One vacation helping pay for the next. Just be sure to avoid spending your savings on vacation.
Next stop: cruises, hobby trips and micro-vacations…
Have you taken the poll? You can change your answer!
Where did you find the best vacation deal?
(c) Red Dwyer 2011
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