Many families want a five-star experience on a three-star budget. With a bit of elbow-grease, time and research, it’s definitely doable.
If you do the work and research in advance you can save anywhere from 10-50%…if not more – depending on how many of these travel tips you incorporate
(1) Book Smart
Booking your flights and hotel at the right time is key to maximize savings. When I worked with West Jet on a TV segment I picked the brains of many head honchos, behind the scenes. The best days to fly are Wednesday, then Saturday and lastly Tuesday. Business seats typically sell out for Sunday/Monday travel, returning toward the end of the week. So the other days sell for less as there is less demand.
(2) Consider a “repositioning” cruise
What’s that? Cruise lines move their ships around depending on the season: Summer in Alaska, winter in the Caribbean and so on. The term “repositioning” refers to when the companies move their ships around but need to do so without them being empty. When moving their ships across oceans, cruiselines offer severely discounted one-way voyages. Travelers still get the royal treatment with all of the same amenities and features (like dances, activities, child care, food, entertainment etc) as it all goes with the ship to the new place—but it’s much cheaper and less crowded. Often, the cost of a 10-day to two-week cruise, on sale, is around the same as the cost of a flight to a destination (without the jet lag). It’s a relaxing way to travel and a fun, unique way to go overseas (instead of flying to Europe for a wedding, for example) as opposed to booking a flight.
(3) Home Swap!
I’ve said this before, and I will say it again, swap houses! This has been one of the more well-received ideas we’ve posted about (people love it). But, essentially, you can either swap houses with another family that you already know, who lives somewhere else in your city, country etc. Or, you can use websites like HomeExchange.com. It’s a great way to score free accommodations in another city or country. This is a great way to get the full local experience and save money.
(4) Follow the News
Do your research and follow the news. Things like Zika and hurricanes freak out many travelers (often for years) meaning more options and fewer crowds – translating into better deals, overall. We’ve traveled to countries with “zika” (meaning they’ve experienced 1+ case at some point) and the Ritz Carleton we stayed at (discounted) wasn’t fully booked. There was a ton of room to spread out. Keep on track of weather trends and health issues, make sure the region is now safe, and take advantage of the “fear”.
(5) Email, subscription or bounce-back deals
This is what we like to call the ‘lazy-research’ approach and if you’ve got time to spare, this might be a fun way to do things. Instead of aggressively tracking hotels, car rental and flight deals, simple set your trip in motion and watch the price drops come to you. Go online to a few travel booking websites and proceed as though you are confirming a trip (car, room and/or flight) but don’t follow through and pay. Enter personal information like your name and email address and “opt in” to receive email offers. Then exit!
When the websites think they’ve lost you as a potential customer (and that you’re shopping elsewhere). Within a few days to a week, you should start receiving emails offering lower prices. It’s similar to shopping online and leaving items in your cart. Everywhere you turn, you’ll see adds for those very items…often including price drops. Your browser history remembers what you were looking at, which means you’ll often get targeted ads.
(6) Take Advantage of Optimal Booking dates
According to WestJet officials, the ideal time to book (for best rates and most seat selection/flight times) is 10-12 weeks prior to your departure date. But other travel experts say the number is closer to 21 days in advance of your trip.
- At some hotels, if you books two weeks out you can save 10% but if you book three weeks out you can save much more – sometimes 25%.
- Travelers should buy airline tickets between midnight and 1 a.m. on Wednesdays or after 3 p.m. on Tuesdays, as these times offer the best discounts.
- Travel before 8:00am or after 8:00pm for the quietest, cheapest fares (least demand)
- Resort properties often offer the best deals starting on Sundays.
- Standard hotels often have cheaper rates during mid-week
- booking later in the day means you’ll also often get a cheaper rate because hotels are more motivated to fill the rooms
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