The Secret to Travel Bargains: Part 1

Filed under : Adventure Tourism

Friends and family often ask me how to get the best deals on their travel. People think that because I am in the travel industry I have some secret password or handshake that I use to acquire the “deal” or “bargains” that I find when I travel. I am going to now reveal my magical secret, the same secret that I tell those very same family and friends. I can do this with confidence and know that I am not betraying some trade secret. There are three parts to the secret and they are (are you ready??):

1.) Flexibility 2.) Research 3.) Patience

I know, I know, that is not what you were waiting for, but it is the truth. I am going to break down planning a trip including airfare, hotel accommodations, and attractions in three articles. If one part does not apply to your vacation, you have my permission to skip an article, however, you might want to read them all for future reference, save a copy to your computer’s hard drive, print and laminate a copy, and send a link to all of your friends and family because this information is going to be priceless people!

So let’s get started in this article with airfare. If I have an inkling of where I want to go in my mind (and the list is long my friends, very long) I take the approximate dates and do a little research on airfare first if I am planning to fly. Why you ask? Because my airfare will be a large portion of the expense and will be my determining factor on dates of travel. If you are like me and you have more than one destination in mind for your vacation, research all of them and see which one has better airfare.

There are many times when I’m not picky on where I go, I just want to go! Keep a running list of destinations that interest you so that when vacation planning time rolls around, you can keep your options open! If I’m thinking, this time I want a beach vacation, I may research airfare to Jamaica, Cancun, and the Florida Keys. They are all wonderful destinations and it may be cheaper for me to go to Jamaica in November than to Florida! By being flexible and keeping my options open, I can save enough money to be able to take a second vacation in a few months instead of blowing all of my money on one!

If it all possible, be flexible with your dates of travel! It amazes me how many people tell me they want to go on vacation and give me a specific set of dates that they are unwilling to defer from. I always ask, “Are your dates flexible at all?” and the response 9 times out of 10 is “no, these are the only days we can travel.” I take this as a personal challenge and now I’m on a mission to get them the best deal possible NEAR their “set” dates.

Now when I start researching their airfare I will search 3 days before and after their “set” dates and guess what? SOMETIMES it is cheaper if they leave a day earlier or later and when I say cheaper I mean saving around $500.00 for a family of four! So I call the clients and tell them the rate for their “set” dates and then tell them the savings if they move their dates a little. Funny how saving hundreds of dollars makes people become flexible with their travel dates!

Remember with airfare, rates fluctuate weekly, sometimes daily so if you find a great deal, book it! If you wait a week to think about it, the great deal may disappear while you are thinking. If airfare seems to be holding steady, and you are willing to take a gamble, you can play the “cross your fingers and wait” game. This is where you hope the airfare will go down even more than it already has.

Don’t wait too long though because the closer you get to your travel dates, the higher your airfare will be. Never wait until 14 days or less prior to travel or your airfare will skyrocket! In some cases, if you find great airfare and still want to research, you can put a hold on your airfare for 24 hours. If you can, do it. That will lock you in while you move on to your next step, hotel accommodations, which I will cover in my next article. Happy hunting!

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