How to Score the Best Deals on Travel

Tuesday, June 07, 2016

Planning a holiday is one of my favourite things to do. I love the research, the reviewing and making my dream trip come to life. After many years of travelling, I've learned that there are so many ways I could have saved a lot of money on most of my trips (I just didn't look).

Flights

The majority of us probably do a quick search for flights, see the cheapest and book. Internationally we might also consider safety, comfort and inflight services and adjust our budget and carrier accordingly. But more often than not, we'll use a site like WebJet or Flight Centre (for us here in Australia) to show us what's available for different airlines. This is where most of us stop looking for deals and book based on their search results. We need to take a step further!

When looking for the best value flight, you might want to take a look at the carrier's website directly. You might find booking through an agency website results in cheaper fares, but you might miss something critical, like price beating or matching with your preferred carrier.


In Australia we have 4 main carriers: QantasVirginJetstar and Tiger. As a general rule, that's also the order of cost and quality. At the moment, I am planning a weekend away in Melbourne and checked out all of the carriers' prices. Qantas came in as the most expensive at $149 each way, with Tiger the cheapest at $65 each way (plus a booking fee). Now, being the cheapest service means you miss out on some of the inflight services you might receive with another carrier. So I thought I'd shop around and see if I could find better prices.

WebJet and Flight Centre gave me the same prices (damn) so no luck there. Then I checked out Jetstar's website directly. Key standout words jumped out of my screen:

Find a lower comparable fare online and we'll beat it by 10%

BINGO! That's what I like to hear. Now obviously there were some terms and conditions to this type of promotion, but for me the flights I had seen with Tiger qualified for the price beating guarantee. This meant instead of paying $138.80 for my flights with Tiger (my less preferred airline) I got flights with Jetstar (my preferred airline) for $117! So now I get to fly with a carrier I prefer for a lower price than available anywhere else on the internet.

Now, not all carriers are going to be interested in offering a price beating or matching system, but keep an eye out (particularly with domestic flights) when you are searching. Some carriers will do price protection, like Qantas, where if you find the same flight for cheaper the day after booking they will match it, or Virgin, where if you find a cheaper flight they will match it and reward you with extra flyer miles. Not as great as Jetstar's price beat guarantee, but certainly something to keep in mind! Saving a few dollars here and there will save you a fortune over time.

For more information on how to save money on your airfares check out my latest blog!

Accommodation

We are spoiled with choice when it comes to accommodation, with sites like Trivago, Expedia, Booking.com and Last Minute. These websites help you find accommodation in your chosen destination, offering you (usually) significantly discounted prices than booking directly with the hotel itself. I never use just one search engine though when looking for a place to stay. I will usually have all of these and more open, searching for deals, specials and extra inclusions to find the best deal. 

The only concern I, and others I'm sure, have with using these types of sites is how safe and secure is your booking? The more well known sites are easier to trust, but beware of hidden fees and charges, like credit card fees or international conversions. When it comes to lesser known sites I am very wary about booking through them, sometimes feeling it is safer to pay a slightly higher price without the risk. I always Google a new site to get others' opinions before making that decision. 


Recently, I used Trivago to find me the cheapest price for a particular hotel I wanted to stay at for my upcoming Melbourne trip. It found my hotel at almost $200 less than anywhere else on a website called Amoma. Not sure about you, but personally I've never heard of this site and was highly cautious to book my accommodation through them. I did some Googling and saw a number of people had been overcharged or booked and then found they didn't have a reservation with the hotel itself. Alarm bells started ringing and I thought it would be safer to pay more or try somewhere else. Before I gave up, I had a look at the hotel's website directly.

Book direct for guaranteed best rates

Can someone say winning? I rang the reservation line and the assistant confirmed she was happy to price match my find on Amoma. $200 less!!!! A few extra minutes of searching and a phone call later saved me a significant amount in this instance. I haven't ever had quite such a price difference before, but it was definitely worth a look!

My advice?lways look and always ask. There's no harm ringing the accommodation provider and asking if they price match, or scouting out other websites to see if they will do the same. 

Activities and Entertainment

Last but not least comes booking your adventures and experiences (probably the most fun part!). After you've done your research and come up with your chosen activities, find out the price from the provider directly and see if there is an online section for inputting a coupon code or discount voucher. If there is, start searching!

To find yourself a discount code my first recommendation would be to simply Google it. For example, if you were looking for Wheel of Brisbane tickets, I'd Google something along the lines of "wheel of Brisbane discount" or "wheel of Brisbane coupon". There are tonnes of coupon code websites out there so you're highly likely to find something. A few weeks ago I did this exact search and managed to save 10% of my ticket price! 

If you come up short on finding a discount code don't despair! You might be able to find your chosen activity on a sale site, such as Groupon or Scoopon here in Oz. I like to use these before I even look at activities as I might find something I would have otherwise set aside because of the price at a ridiculously reduced rate. For example, last year for my birthday I told my girlfriends I wanted to go to a wildlife conservation  park. The one I was thinking of is called Currumbin Wildlife Park. Literally the day before we headed off for our girls weekend I went on Groupon and found a 2 for 1 deal on all tickets! I could have just arrived on the day and paid full price, but instead I essentially paid half price just for looking. 


There are sooooooooooooo many ways to save money on flights, accommodation and activities, like booking outside peak season, waiting for EOFY sales and using an app like SkyScanner or AirBnB, but there are also everyday ways to save without having to wait. Take a few extra minutes when making your holiday plans to see if you can shave a few dollars off the price :)

Be free my bargain hunters!

Erica x

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1 comments

  1. Nice post! I will look for travel prices from Carriers site from now on. That's neat.

    Regards,
    Karmughil
    www.authoringlife.wordpress.com

    ReplyDelete

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