We’ve talked about maximizing your savings through flexibility and up-and-coming destinations in prior posts, but what’s the next best discount tip I can offer up? Troll those travel sites, folks. Do your homework. Sign up for a couple travel newsletters, and get ready for great discounts.
About Those Travel Sites…
Many people lose out on cash by booking their flights and packages through your standard travel sites, like Orbitz, Expedia, and Hotwire. And, while they provide a plethora of options, did you know the following? Orbitz sometimes charges an additional fee per flight for international travel on your credit card, not included in your original purchase price. Many times, your flights or amenities are ineligible for airline rewards programs. And, they don’t often include certain airlines in their results, like Southwest or JetBlue. Do be careful with the convenience of these sites; you might not be getting as good a deal as you think. So, what do we do? Conduct a little extra research, and [temporarily] succumb to those dreaded email subscriptions.
The following are a few of my favorite deal-happy sites and apps…
We’re all pretty familiar with this one… but that’s because it’s good. TravelZoo offers regular deals, both local and international, on flights, hotels, and full vacation packages. I signed up for their once-a-week newsletter to stay on top of the discount action, and I’m never disappointed.
Groupon travel packages are always legitimate deals, and I personally know folks that have been really pleased with their trips. They also offer “economies of scale discounts”—get a few more people to go, and save on the final cost.
I periodically come across this great Groupon offer that I’ve been waiting to pull the trigger on. It’s only $699 for a complete 7-day package to the Azores. $100 a day on a Portuguese island, flight and hotel included? Yes, please. …Scrolled through these travel gems before? Keep reading.
Hopper & Skyscanner
Both are awesome flight apps. Hopper lets you search the lowest upcoming flight costs to your destination on its super user-friendly interface. And you can program alerts to notify you of price reductions and increases. Skyscanner is similar to Kayak’s Explore link in that you can search the lowest airfares worldwide from your departure point within a specific time frame (Kayak’s search operates on a more open timeframe). I highly recommend both. …Just some other airfare apps? Well, get this…
Reminder: These carriers do not typically show up on Orbitz and the like, so you just have to visit them individually. Subscribe for emails and you’ll seriously be blown away.
Spirit Airlines offers periodic 99% off deals on one leg of a roundtrip flight, but they don’t pre-advertise them and they only last until midnight of the day they’re announced. Air Berlin (now defunct) had regular sales from New York to Europe for $499, and they were part of the OneWorld Alliance so you could earn frequent flyer miles along the way. I found roundtrip flights from Baltimore to Copenhagen for $387 on Black Friday with WOW (also now defunct, unfortunately), and they offered equally low prices to a number of other European cities (Paris, Amsterdam, London, Stockholm…).
Yes, it’s cheaper to fly to Europe than to some parts of the United States. While some of these discount carriers didn’t last, they did have great service when they were up and running, and they will be replaced by something new, so keep a watchful eye out.
More Travel Sites?
Now that you’ve learned a couple resources that allow you to travel internationally for less than the cost of domestic travel, I expect no excuses. Troll those travel sites and subscribe to a couple. The cash you’ll save will be well worth the minor irritation of another vendor email in your inbox. I promise. Add additional travel sites to my list by commenting below.