People accuse me of being crazy for traveling somewhere (sometimes not so nearby) for a short amount of time. I don’t quite disagree with them – I just tell them how much I paid for the plane ticket. The ticket might be from Los Angeles to Anchorage or Washington DC for around $250 or less. After their initial shock, they typically ask how I find such deals. There isn’t always a quick 2-3 sentence answer so here’s how I find good travel deals.
Finding Cheap Flights
Finding cheap flights isn’t always easy. One of my primary guidelines is to be flexible. I have a long list of places I’d like to travel to, but I don’t cross things off my list from the top down. A family member laughed at me when I told him I haven’t been to a popular destination. He said that I always travel to such random places. I completely disagreed – I just haven’t found the right fare good at a convenient time for me to visit the places at the top of my list.
Chase the fare, not the destination
I definitely do not find all of my own deals. Like many of my fellow frequent flyers, we all have our sources. You should have yours too. Here are some of mine.
The Flight Deal (TFD) is one of my main sources to find cheap flights. They post multiple deals for the larger metropolitan cities daily. They include the dates which the fare is good for, how to book it, visa information for US citizens, and how many miles you should earn. Also, they are super friendly and engaging on Twitter.
SecretFlying is much like TFD but they also have deals all around the world. The deals they publish have a wider breadth of destinations which is useful, but they don’t include all of the information in each deal that TFD does (such as via information).
Word of mouth is another way I find good flight deals. I have found that having a good network is worth its weight in
gold airplanes. Befriend other frequent travelers and try to get in their circle to share good travel deals.
Always know when you’re able to travel so you can grab good air fares. Aim for a 12 month period. That is easier said than done, but there’s good reason to do it. Really good deals tend to go quickly – sometimes within hours. Since you can usually cancel a ticket within 24 hours of booking, book first then figure out if it is actually feasible. Just make sure you’re able to cancel it. If you hesitate to book a flight, it might be gone by the time you pull the trigger.
Deals for Hotels
Hotel deals are a somewhat different animal than flight deals. This is mostly due to the more lenient cancellation policies that hotels have. Also, there are many different hotel room rates even for the same hotel on the same date. Thus, finding a good deal isn’t always straightforward. Unlike flights, the deal might not be a cheaper rate. The deal might be a suite, free room upgrade, breakfast, food or spa credit.
This website is much like TFD or SecretFlying in that they will publish multiple hotel deals daily. The deals might only be good for one date, but a good number of them are good for multiple dates. This is how I booked an awesome room at Aria, in Las Vegas, for less than $150 on a Saturday night.
I know that the last thing you want is more email in your inbox that you’ll likely just delete without even opening it. We all share that feeling. Sometimes the best deal is with a promotion that a hotel chain will email. As I mentioned above, this isn’t always just lower room rates. It might be bonus points or other benefits. So sign-up for those promotion emails with your favorite hotel chains – you might come across a deal you can’t pass up.
I prefer searching for hotels on Hipmunk. The interface is very user-friendly. It displays a description of hotels with a map
What Can You Do?
Everything I wrote is how I find good deals. You’re welcome to use the same tools & sources. I know that reading all of the blogs/websites I mentioned (as well as this one, and others) can be hard. I use IFTTT to alert me when they tweet a new deal. This makes the process of finding new deals much more of a passive task. You can just click/tap on the alert that appeals to you
If you’re on Twitter, you should follow the above websites & myself. Here’s the list:
- Extreme Hotel Deals
- TheSterlingTraveler – I’ll do my best to (re)tweet deals
Is there something else that you use to find good travel deals? Share them in the comments.
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Life in Wanderlust