Don’t set your dates—or your destination—in stone
Want to travel cheap? You can follow this great advice from travel agents, but here’s a bigger secret: Being flexible about when you take off for vacation can be a mega-money saver. Travel blogger Paula Dixon, who has visited more than 11 countries by herself or with pals, says searching for the most cost-effective travel dates, instead of specific times and days, is a smart way to save money. “I only decide which month I will travel, but not specific dates within that month. Doing this will ensure that you find the cheapest flights for whatever destination you are looking to go to,” she explains. For your search, Dixon recommends Skyscanner.com and Momondo.com to aggregate the best deals. “Skyscanner, in particular, allows you to search for the cheapest flights within a specific month. And, if you have a specific month you want to travel but do not have a destination in mind, then Skyscanner will also help you find the cheapest destination to travel to in the month you are looking to travel,” she explains.
Book directly through the airline
So you searched on all of the websites—SkyScanner, Priceline, Kayak, you name it—and you’re ready to book. Before you input your credit card info, travel writer Lola Mendez says to think twice before booking on a deal site. Though she says it’s a smart tool to scope out the best deals, sometimes you won’t reap the rewards and benefits of booking directly with the airline. And hey, she should know, considering she has explored 47 countries and counting. “I never book through third party booking sites for flights as there are often hidden fees and questionable customer service,” Mendez says. “I try to book directly through the airline’s website once I have found a suitable flight on SkyScanner. Usually, the price is the same or reasonably close.” Here’s where to learn more about airline secrets.
Consider hostels, but read reviews
When you first think of hostels, you might envision grimy, sketchy bunk beds far off the beaten path. But Mendez says hostels across the globe continue to improve in quality and at times, can even be a better experience than staying at The Ritz. “I typically stay in hostels, as they are more cost-friendly and often have better facilities than budget hotels in developing countries,” she says. Obviously, it’s still important to do your research. Mendez uses Hostelz.com to compare prices for free between Hostelworld, Booking, Gomio, and other accommodation sites. Hostelz.com shows the price difference between each site and allows users to book directly through the site with the lowest rate. “I prefer to make the actual reservation through Booking.com as there is no fee, and usually reservations can be altered at no cost before the arrival date,” she adds. Spend even less during your vacation with these cheap travel tips that booking companies don’t want you to know.