Top Ten Tips for Getting The Best Travel Deals
People often ask me how I manage to afford to travel as often and as far as I do. In some cases, like my recent trip to Tanzania, I’ve been lucky enough to land the trip partially subsidized as part of a media tour. In other cases, such as China and South Korea, I’ve taken advantage of the ESL teaching lifestyle and made those countries my home bases.
For those who don’t have a burning desire to teach or a blog they can use to leverage discounted or free travel, there are still other ways to get a good saving on flights, accommodation, and activities. Working together with the people at the NRMA, I’ve put together this list of quick and easy tips to help you travel more often without breaking the bank.
1. Subscribe to voucher websites
One of the biggest changes in the travel industry in recent years has been the huge growth of voucher websites, which offer package holidays at dramatically reduced prices.
Sites popular for travel bookings in Australia include Ourdeal.com.au, Cudo.com.au, Living Social Escapes, and LuxuryEscapes.com. While you can visit the sites themselves to see their deals, offers are also emailed to your inbox daily.
You’d be surprised at just how cheap these deals can be. Recent deals on Luxury Escapes have included eight nights at the Pan Pacific Nirwana Bali Resort for $1,499 (reduced from $3,899).
The only catch is getting your flights to match up with available dates, although some tours do also include your flights.
2. Join loyalty programs
Large hotel groups, such as Accor, Hilton, Best Western, and Mantra offer discounts to members of their loyalty programs first.
Members of the Hilton Honors program, for example, get access to a variety of unique sales and discounts.
Tourism Accommodation Australia spokesman Peter Hook says:
With a restricted amount of rooms available at the discounted price, you have to be ‘in the know’ by being a member because by the time these sales are released to the general public, the majority of prime periods are gone”.
3. Follow travel companies and airlines on social media
Budget airlines like Jetstar and AirAsia, as well as other travel companies notify people about upcoming sales via Facebook and Twitter, often a day or two before putting them on their website.
It’s worth following a few of your favourites and keeping an eye out, especially on Friday afternoons when a lot of airlines release their weekly sales.
AirAsia is one South East Asian enthusiasts will want to jump on in the coming months, as they are planning to release a month long ‘open ticket’ that allows unlimited flights between participating South East Asian nations.
4. Book your next cruise on board
While I’ve not had the opportunity to experience cruise life just yet, I’ve got friends and family who swear by the luxury offered by cruise companies. Believe it or not, the best time to book a future cruise is when you are already on one. Many cruise companies have on board salespeople taking future cruise bookings.
Carnival Australia spokesmanDavid Jones says
The attractions can vary but often they’re in the form of best fare available along with the offer of on board credit for the future cruise.
So if you want to take two back-to-back cruises, it could be worth taking an extra week’s leave and booking a second cruise while still on your first one.
5. Book early
Hotels are keen to fill rooms and airlines want to get bums on seats, so they often offer great early bird deals to encourage people to secure their booking.
The earlier you book, the more you’ll save
says Best Western general manager of sales and marketing Steve Richards.
APT marketing manager Justine Lally says her company offers a range of deals, including free return flights when you book a tour and air credits, but the best deals are often available to those who book in advance.
6. Book late
On the flip side, if you are willing to take the risk, another round of deals are also offered at the last minute. If there are empty rooms or seats on planes available, you can usually get them at a good price.
Cruise companies, for example, would rather have you on board paying for drinks and putting money in the poker machines than leave a room spare and you can sometimes get cabins for as little as $50 per person per day at late notice.
7. Be smart about when you stay
Depending on where you are looking at staying, you can get better deals at different times of the week.
CBD hotels are often filled with business ttravelersduring the week, so you can get good deals on weekends or during holiday periods, such as over Christmas and Easter.
Sunday nights are often the cheapest nights of the week. But hotels in regional or coastal areas get most guests on weekends, so often offer great mid-week deals if you can afford the time off work.
8. Book through a travel agent
It may be old fashioned, but travel agents have access to more rooms and are probably going to find a good deal quicker than you can searching through website after website. What you lose in paying the travel agent’s commission, you may well save in accommodation, flights, and tours.
While pre-planned itineraries aren’t always my cup of tea, a great deal of my Fiji travel was done through a travel agent and it reduced the headaches of guiding a bunch of first time travelers around the islands.
9. Travel in the off-season
When it comes to travel, it’s all about supply and demand. Flights and accommodation will be more affordable if you travel outside peak season. Sure you may have a tropical storm every afternoon, but make that your daily nap time. It also means less crowds.
Just when the off-season is will vary greatly from country to country. In Australia, the best time to find cheap flights tends to be in April or November. In countries with a wet and dry season, you’ll find that the wet season is usually much cheaper than the comparatively pleasant dry season.
10. Download apps to your phone
If you are looking for hotels on the go, it’s worth downloading a good app. HotelsCombined, for example, can compare thousands of travel sites at once to help find the best available rate then click directly through its partner websites to book. It also offers a best price guarantee.
Most travel companies and voucher websites also have their own apps.
11. Bonus tip
However you decide to book, it’s crucial to have appropriate travel insurance for your needs. If you are planning to take two or more trips in one year – even domestic flights – multi-trip insurance is a one-off fee that may be an easy way to save time and money.
While I personally always preferred to live dangerously, as I’ve grown a little older and (I hope) wiser, I’ve become a habitual travel insurance user.
The above post was put together in collaboration with the NRMA.
What are your favourite ways to get the best possible deal when you’re traveling? Have you tried and succeeded with any of the above?