As a big chunk of the country is frozen solid, I’ve got warm, sunny, weather on my mind. I know I’m not alone in this thought as many Americans are starting to think about, or book, spring travel plans. Whether you’re a college student traveling on a shoestring budget, or a family looking to plan a getaway, I have some easy to implement cheap travel tips to help you maximize your travel dollars.
Fly Out on the Right Day of the Week
In order to save on airfare it is very important to fly out on the right day of the week. According to FareCompare.com, the cheapest days of the week to fly out are Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Saturdays.
The reason is because a lot travelers don’t want to fly on those days as they are fairly inconvenient if you have a standard 9 to 5, M-F job.
So it’s simple supply and demand and most airlines discount tickets accordingly. The most expensive days to fly? Fridays and Sundays. Avoid if you can.
Book Your Flight on a Tuesday
4;30 pm ET on a Tuesday to be exact. Why? Because most new lowered airfares appear between Sunday and Monday night and people start snatching them up right away and have 24 hours to finalize the reservation.
A HUGE chunk of travelers end up not finalizing so the market gets re-inundated Tuesday afternoon. For domestic travel the “happy zone” for finding deals according to CheapAir.com is 54 days (7.5 weeks) in advance.
For international travel, the best time to book “flights to the South Pacific was 70 days out. To Africa it was 166 days out. For Mexico it was 89 days, Europe 151, Asia 129, and the Caribbean 101.”
CheapAir monitored over 4 million flights to come up with their data. Good stuff as it can definitely help you book airfare at the right time and save you money in the process.
Find Killer Unsold Hotel Deals
So it probably comes as no surprise that hotels want high room occupancy and are often willing to lower rates closer to your date of arrival to fill rooms.
By using sites like Hotwire and Priceline you can find some killer unsold hotel room rates, but you never know the exact hotel you’re getting until you finalize your booking. Well…until now that is.
Check out this trick to figure out what hotel you’ll probably get with Hotwire and Priceline. You enter the amenities, star rating, and approximate location of the hotel (all info that Hotwire and Priceline provide) and then they run it through their “secret sauce” algorithm and spit out a pretty darn accurate idea of what hotel you’re potentially getting.
VRBO.com Last Minute Tip
If you plan to use VRBO.com to book a vacation rental house or condo this Spring it’ll pay to procrastinate on your booking.
Wait and hit up vacation rental owners in the week leading up to your stay and ask if they would consider taking a discounted rate. In MANY cases they happily offer you a deal to avoid their place sitting empty not earning a cent.
Get Automatic Airfare Alerts
Another hack to find the cheapest airfare this Spring is to use a website that tracks deals and airfare price drops for you. Here are a few of my favorites.
- AirfareWatchdog.com – Enter your departure city, arrival city, and the dates you want to travel and they’ll send you automatic fare updates and fare drop alerts via email so you can book when the price is right. Very easy to use site and I highly recommend you trying it out.
- FareCompare.com – “FareCompare is a travel meta-search engine that helps you find the best and cheapest prices for your next trip.” They’ll help you figure out when and where you should shop for cheapest tickets. Definitely worth your time when planning your Spring travel.
- Yapta.com – Yapta is another cool site (and Smartphone app) that lets you enter your travel dates and destination and they’ll track airfares and notify you of drops in price. Works with rental cars as well.
The Best Hotel Booking Trick EVER
The best trick EVER to score a deal on a hotel room is to book the lowest rate available online then call the hotel directly and ask for a free upgrade. If you’re not traveling on the weekend, or during peak holidays, this will almost always work.
Best trick #2 is to call the hotel directly and tell them you are considering booking with an online service like Orbitz or Expedia and ask if they can beat their rate.
Most hotels pay a 25-30% commission to booking sites so often they are more than willing to undercut the quote you received online.
Be Extremely Flexible
Instead of picking a sunny destination and then looking for airfare deals, look for the best deals to ANY sunny destination. If you have this flexibility it allows you to travel to where the best deals are and save a ton of money in the process.
This tip is from my frugal buddy Clark Howard who always takes a vacation ONLY to where the best travel deals are. He actually lets the deals steer him to his final destination.
After all, does it really matter if you head to Daytona Beach instead of Miami, or the Bahamas instead of Jamaica? Go to where the airfare and hotel deals are the best!
Also, don’t forget to ask about special discounts like AARP, AAA, and veteran/military discounts.
By Kyle James