Raise your hand if you love finding a great travel deal. The only thing better than finding that $300 roundtrip flight to London from Chicago is earning points, cash back, and rewards that you can spend on a future trip. Because of how fragmented the travel industry can be it can be daunting to figure out how to get the most out of your money especially when you are booking through multiple airlines, hotel chains, and travel sites. My formula isn’t perfect but here are the ways I save money when booking travel.
Sign Up for Loyalty Programs
One of the simplest ways to save on trips is to collect points and miles. I usually save up my points to fund international trips. There is a lot of content online about how to win at the miles game. I really like The Points Guy for practical tips on how to best use and earn miles and points.
I’m new to the Ebates game. My dad’s cool cousin Lu (the best deal hunter I know) turned me on to Ebates, and I’m hooked. Ebates gives you cash back on purchases you make on sites that promote through Ebates. Most major retailers including Amazon have cash back offers on Ebates. Many travel sites also offer cash back on purchases through Ebates. Create an account, download the Google Chrome plugin, and start saving.
Use an OTA (Online Travel Agency)
I’m always surprised by how few people use OTAs like Orbitz and Expedia because they offer a wide selection and can be a great way to save money. The best part about OTAs is that you can redeem points through an airline or hotel on your purchase (just enter your loyalty account details), earn rewards such as Orbucks or Expedia Rewards from the OTA, and get cash back from Ebates.
Book a Package
I feel like package deals have a bad connotation. Booking a package does not necessarily mean you are taking group tours, staying at Disney, or going to an all-inclusive resort. When you book through an OTA, you can have the option to book your flight + hotel or rental car together. Usually, you will get a better overall price by booking a package deal vs. booking your hotel and flight separately.
Know When to Buy
One of the worst feelings is buying a flight and then the price drops. To make sure you are in the know of when to purchase set price alerts on Google for when flights you are interested in go up or drop in price. Another excellent source is Scott’s Cheap Flights. Scott’s Cheap Flights sends out alerts with the best flight deals each day. I recently used one of their emails to book a cheap flight to Stockholm.
How do you save money when you book travel?