Tips for obtaining the best prices for your vacation, including airfare, cruises and hotel accommodations
How to get the best vacation prices
Years ago, the best way to book a vacation was to call your local travel agent. However, with the explosion of the internet and online search engines, you can now put together your own vacations at a deep discount through comparison shopping. Here are some tips for finding the best price on your next vacation.
Tip 1: Look for a package deal
Many vacation outlets will make deals with airlines, hotels and rental car companies to offer packages at a discount to purchasing each component separately. Check out the website of the hotel you want to stay at, since many hotel chains also have partnerships with airlines for discounted airfare when booking a room with that hotel chain. Do not assume that a package deal is cheaper, however, since the combined package may be more expensive that using an alternate airline or hotel for the same trip. Depending on the source of the package, you may also be paying fees to the outlet that offset any savings reaped from purchasing a discounted package. The best place to look is websites that offer different combinations of hotel, airfare and car rentals, and allow you to choose the airlines, rental companies and hotels directly. You can save more money by purchasing a package through a site that offers a package at a deeper discount but does not tell you exactly what you have bought until money has changed hands. Although this is less expensive, you run the risk of staying at a resort you know you do not like, or flying an airline with less than reputable service.
Tip 2: Don’t buy the first package you find
When you have found a package you like, reserve it, but don’t buy it yet. Most websites will let you reserve a package for up to 24 hours without purchasing it. During that time, continue to look for similar packages that might be less expensive. Or, call your local travel agent, and ask if they can match or beat the price you found online.
Tip 3: Don’t forget about your local travel agent
Speaking of travel agents, don’t always assume that the best prices can be found online. If a travel agency specializes in trips to a specific area of the country, or special types of trips, such as cruises or adventure tours, you may get a better deal by booking through a travel agent. Be sure to ask what the agent’s fees are, since this can significantly cut into any discount you may receive.
Tip 4: Travel with friends
One way to save lots of money on your vacation is to travel with friends. Travel agencies will often give group discounts when all travelers are going to the same destination–and the more the merrier, since you will often receive a larger discount for including more people in the deal.
Tip 5: Think about the off-season
While there are certain times of the year that are not amenable to travel, such as hurricane season in the tropics or the dessert in the middle of the summer, consider traveling at off-peak times. Booking your travel even one week earlier or later than the peak season for that locale can save you hundreds of dollars, even though you will be enjoying similar weather as during the beginning or end of the peak season. Although you will have a greater risk of encountering bad weather, chances are that you will enjoy a fabulous vacation at a deep discount.