The best travel booking hacks

The best travel booking hacks

By Susan Melony

Whether you are booking flights to an international destination, a hotel in a major city or tickets to a dinner show or attraction, you, of course, always want the best deals. At the same time, you may not want to sacrifice quality and experience when it comes to travel.

With those things in mind, here are some of the best travel booking hacks you might not be using but should consider.

Use Google Flights

If you are going to go to your travel destination, use Google Flights, which features an Explorer map. You can use the map to find the cheapest places you can fly to from your local airport. You add your departure dates and city, but leave your destination open. Then you can navigate the map.

If you have flexible dates, you can also see the lowest prices within a time window that can be set to a weekend, weekday, or two-week trip.

If you want to go to, say, Paris, but are willing to fly to another airport like London, Google Flights can help you save a lot of money.

If you just know you want to go somewhere in the summer, for example, you can also look around and see what interests you at the best price.

Know which days to fly

The best days to fly are usually Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Saturdays. Not only are fewer people traveling on these days, but they are often cheaper times to book tickets.

Business travelers typically fly on Mondays and Fridays, and leisure travelers most often fly on Fridays and Sundays.

Compare upgrade prices

Make sure you compare your flight prices the right way. If you find a flight on a full-service carrier that includes a meal, one checked bag, and the ability to choose your seat, and it’s $100 more than a flight on a budget carrier, what will you pay actually on the budget carrier?

Just booking your luggage alone could end up being more than the $100 ticket difference.

If you are planning to book a basic economy ticket with a full service carrier, how much would it cost to then add the extras you may need, such as seat selection and checked baggage? It might be cheaper to go ahead and get the main economy instead of the basic.

Search Hidden City Tickets

There are sites where you can find discounted one-way flights by searching for so-called hidden city tickets. A hidden city means you buy a ticket with your destination as a stopover on a multi-leg flight, which can be cheaper. If the flight you want is too expensive on a classic booking site, you can find great deals.

However, you will not be able to check in the baggage if you do so, as you miss the connecting flight where the baggage actually goes.

Book packages

Depending on where you’re going, you might want to book travel packages from third-party providers. These packages often include your accommodation and perhaps attraction tickets. The third-party provider obtains offers from the companies, which they can then pass on to their customers.

Login when booking hotels

To save money on hotels, be sure to create an account with the company and log in when you want to book. Most hotel companies offer rewards programs and membership programs.

They can give you an instant lower price than you would get if you weren’t logged in, then you can earn credits or free nights after you make a certain number of reservations.

Secure your hotel rates with free cancellation

When you are shopping for accommodation, you might come across a good deal, but you don’t know if it will be part of your final plan. If you choose a hotel that has a free cancellation policy, you essentially own that price.

Then if you find something else or it falls from there, you can just cancel your other booking and make a new one.

Be careful with cancellation policies, however, and be sure to read the fine print.

Take advantage of special occasions

If you have a special occasion coming up on your trip, such as a birthday or anniversary, you may be able to get an upgrade if you contact a hotel directly. It doesn’t mean a holiday that most people celebrate, but something that’s truly special to you.

You can call the office and ask them what they might have available.

Even if you don’t have a special occasion to celebrate, sometimes picking up the phone and calling an old-fashioned hotel can be a good way to get deals and upgrades. Hotel employees have plenty of leeway in what they can offer you when you call, and you may be able to access options not available online.

last minute offer

Some travel sites offer mystery deals and last-minute auction opportunities. If you can be flexible with your travel time, you can save a lot of money. Mystery deals happen when a hotel name isn’t revealed until after you’ve paid, but you get a deep discount.

With auctions, you take part in a virtual auction and offer your price for a known hotel. If you win, you agree to pay the price.

Do not buy park tickets directly

Finally, if you’re going to a theme park or amusement park, it’s rare that it’s cheaper to buy direct. Instead, you’ll almost always get a better deal if you buy from ticket sellers. Some offer a guarantee that their prices are the cheapest.

When you buy theme park ticketsthere are other hacks you can also use to save money.

We are looking for family tickets. If you need to buy tickets for a group, you might get a discount.

Combination tickets are another option. When you buy combo tickets, it’s like the packages mentioned above. You get tickets for several attractions at a reduced price.