The Secrets Behind Booking Travel Online and Ways to Save
Many online travel websites will have you believe that purchasing a package deal with air and hotel will be less expensive than booking them separately, but did you know you may be in fact paying more? I have relied on online travel websites such as Hotels.com, Orbitz, Expedia and Travelocity to book travel plans for years. Being a hard-core researcher for the best deals for purchases, there are a couple of things I learned that can help many of you save.
- If you are traveling with another person and plan to stay in the same hotel "room" together, DO NOT go with a package.
What happens is many of these online travel websites charge each person the hotel expense. A hotel room may be $199/day if you booked it alone to accommodate 2 people. But when it's part of a package, some travel websites bill each person $199/day for the hotel, so you end up paying for a room that's twice the cost.
- Start tracking online websites for rates on air and hotel at least 3 months in advance.
If you are tracking prices daily, you will have a better sense of what's a really good deal when you see it. You will also see a trend in how prices change for certain days of the week. What I've typically found is Wednesday is the best day to book travel online (second best is Tuesday or Thursday). You typically get the best rates then. Come late Thursday and running into the weekend thru Monday, many online travel sites appear to increase prices. This is probably because most people find it more convenient to book towards the end of the week and during weekends, or they do their research over the weekend and move ahead and book on Monday.
- Play around with the dates if you're flexible.
If you have the flexibility, play around with dates of travel for booking your hotel stay and airfare. Oftentimes rates can change as much as $50 between one day and the next day. Instead of leaving on a Saturday, are you flexible to leave on a Friday or the Sunday. There may be some savings there for you. This can be a huge cut to your travel cost, especially for families. Think about a family of 4 where a date change means a savings of $50, multiply that by 4 and that means a savings of $200. In general, airfare and hotels offer cheaper rates during the middle of the week than on Friday's and weekends so play around with the dates if that can work with your schedule.
- Use separate browsers, for instance IE and Mozilla Firefox.
Depending on how your computer is set up, there are cookie trails. Some of these online travel sites keep in its memory what you searched for, so the next time you are back you don't have to reenter information on your destination and travel plans. While it is convenient it can also mean they change the price on you to something higher knowing that you're seeking it. This has happened to me where I've used one browser consistently to check on the price for travel over a course of time. When I was ready to make my purchase, I switched over to another browser to do it and low and behold I got a lower rate than what was showing on the browser I had consistently used for travel research.
- Check for a promo code or other savings by linking directly from your credit card website.
Almost every online travel website offers promo codes. Simply head over to a online cashback site like Rakuten.com (formerly Ebates.com) or TopCashBack.com and get cashback for your purchases while also see if there are special codes to enter for additional savings. Many credit card company's also offer cashback or points for linking to the online travel site directly from its website. Of course, you must also use the same credit card to make the purchase. So, if you book $500 worth of travel, even a cashback offering of 2% earns you $10 in cashback. Not bad!
Hopefully you found some of this information helpful for your next online travel purchase.
Please share any tips you may have on saving when booking travel online by commenting to this post.