Only a fool wouldn’t want a cheap vacation, regardless of the budget involved. There can often be outrageous markups on travel, and people who don’t pay attention are the ones who are paying most of them. Regardless of how and where you intend to travel, there’s always a cheaper way to go about it than just asking your local travel agent to put a package together for you. This is a huge subject that will be covered extensively throughout this site, but below you’ll find some of our best tips to get things started.
Book online and compare more than one site
You might have heard a friend or relative recommend that one travel site or another site is the cheapest, but that’s not always true. The fact is that nearly every travel site out there does some things very well and other things poorly. That’s actually how they make most of their profit; they lure people in by offering one cheap thing and then overcharge them on other parts of their trip.
Consider last-minute trips
If you can be flexible on this, you can save a lot of money over someone who isn’t willing or able to approach their vacation this way. For cruises and hotel rooms, they have a fixed inventory, and as the date draw near they will cut prices to fill up their rooms. Obviously you can’t choose your exact hotel, or even your exact destination, if you try this approach, but it’s very unlikely that you won’t find something that works really well for you, and at a low price. If you’d like to vacation in Acapulco, you might have to settle for Puerto Vallarta, but you won’t have to go to Albuquerque instead.
Be flexible in general
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Again, flexibility is your friend when it comes to finding cheap vacations. At any given moment there are special deals to hundreds of cities and thousands of hotels, so if you aren’t locked in to one particular place you can take advantage of these sales. If you want to vacation in Miami at the Loews South Beach Hotel, you might have to pay full price, but if you are willing to book a similar hotel a few blocks away, or in Palm Beach, you can usually save quite a bit of money.
Here are the main travel booking websites and their specialties:
These three sites are not good for cheap airfare alone, and they aren’t great for specific hotel searches, but they do all offer very tempting package vacations that can be cheaper than some of the other sites that sell each item for less individually.
This site works differently from the ones above. It’s better for cheap airline tickets alone, and they do also offer some tempting package deals. Occasionally you’ll find things on other sites that aren’t listed on this one, but generally this is a good and cheap all-around site.
This site isn’t great for individual plane tickets, partly because their listings are often very limited compared to the others, but they are great for cheap hotels and car rentals. Their specialty is their Limited Deals, whereby they don’t tell you the name of the hotel or car rental company until after you’ve booked, but they do tell you everything else you’d need to know. Especially for car rentals, who cares which major company you rent from as long as it’s one of the major companies?
These sites are identical and they are partners, so you only need to check one or the other. These are travel booking aggregators, which means they check prices on all other sites they can find in just a few seconds, and then list all the results in one place. You’ll often find that airline sites offer the best deals, and you can book directly with those sites with just a few more clicks from these sites. They don’t have great package specials, but aside from that these are the best places to start your search, and definitely something to check before you lock in your booking elsewhere.