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We have a serious love for travel at our house. It’s one of the few things we spend money on, which is only possible by cutting back in a lot of other areas. I’ve been asked more times than I can count how we manage to travel so often and so inexpensively. So here is a list of my travel ‘strategies’…some known and not-so-known ways to get discounts on travel.
What a cool site to analyze your best airfare options. One fun feature is that you can enter a departure airport, and then it can tell you the cheapest regions/airports to fly to in the ENTIRE WORLD, in descending order by price. You can set specific dates, or tell it that you want to be flexible, up to an entire year. Right now, at the time of writing, I can book a round-trip flight to Sweden from the Oakland airport for $387. In fact, I just booked a round-trip flight from San Francisco to Washington DC for $243! I could explore the options on this site for hours.
This is the site to visit before heading to the name-your-price areas of Hotwire.com or Priceline.com. Normally when you bid on travel at either of those sites, you don’t have a sense of what offers will be accepted, or what hotel you’ll end up with. But what many people don’t know is that there is a whole forum of folks who post what deals they got, and with what hotel. So you can bid smarter, and not over-pay. Also, they have a list of hotels in each of the star-categories, that can help you narrow down which hotel you’ll end up with before you even place a bid. It’s awesome, and has saved us hundreds of dollars over the years, while staying in top-notch hotels around the world.
Both of these sites are consistent on giving great deals on hotels. The key is to use the ‘Hot Rate’ function at Hotwire and the ‘Name-Your-Own-Price’ tool at Priceline.com. These are the areas where you get the deepest discounts. The reason for that is they don’t disclose what hotel you’re getting until you complete your purchase. But this shouldn’t deter you. Refer to my BetterBidding.com link above before you bid, and you should be able to pin down what hotel you’re bidding on and price your bid competitively. We’ve booked on both of these sites numerous times, and more than once we’ve stayed at a Hilton or Hyatt family property for $45 a night. No joke.
(Update: For an upcoming trip to Washington DC, we’re booked at the Hilton for $51 a night. I wasn’t kidding!)
I typically use Orbitz for car rentals. They have a nice comparison grid which gives you the ‘out-the-door’ price for your rental, by rental agency and car category (compact, standard, luxury, etc). So you can quickly see where the best deal is.
We’ve used these sites when we plan to travel to expensive cities, and saved a ton of money. Example…we wanted to stay on the North Shore of Kauai, which is notoriously expensive. There are only a few resorts/hotels in the area we wanted and they were starting at $600 per night. We’re not ‘resort’ people anyway, so I looked on HomeAway.com. We found a listing from a nice couple that rents out their beach cottage while they’re away, steps away from the famous Hanalei Bay. Price? $130 per night. We had a kitchenette in our own private cottage, a patio with a BBQ, an indoor and an outdoor shower, a washer/dryer, WiFi and we were only 50 steps away from the beach. It was a steal, and we had the time of our lives for cheap.
This site is cool. You can book an entire house, an apartment, a room, or in some cases, just a bed…in 34,000 cities in 192 countries. It’s cool people renting out to other cool people, for really reasonable rates. We booked a beautiful cottage outside Seattle for $80 a night.
And, when you use my affiliate link, www.airbnb.com/c/ldobbins1, you’ll automatically get a $25 credit towards your first booking! Check it out.