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I love to travel for pleasure and I know most people would like to travel more but they usually can’t afford it. I want to share how I book my vacations for the cheapest prices available. The internet has totally changed the face of the travel industry. Gone are the days of when you needed to go to a travel agent to book a vacation. Are you old enough to remember them like I do?
I am not going to tell you that you can book a trip to Hawaii for less than $20 bucks or even for free. I know some people blog about this by taking advantage of credit card reward points and other promotional travel deals, also known as travel hacking. But there are usually a millions steps involved in this, along with many other restrictions like blackout dates on when you can travel or needing platinum status with an airline or credit card. If you are like me, you simply do not have the time or patience to do all these things in order to book a vacation. So I am going to tell you how I book a vacation without the headaches of trying to use reward points, but by getting the cheapest price available for regular people like you and me.
If you are dating a flight attendant or a pilot and can get free flights, by all means keep doing that. Or if you are with someone that is the CEO of a big hotel chain, keep doing that too. God bless you. Unfortunately, I don’t have those connections so I’ll keep hunting down online travel deals until I do.
The price of a flight dictates where I go on vacation because it’s usually the most expensive component of the trip. The best place I found for flights online is www.theflightdeal.com Login and sign up for their free daily newsletter.
You will get a daily email that highlights the best flight deals available. I scan this email every single day as the flight prices offered are unbelievably inexpensive and they include taxes in the final price, which I always like because I hate hidden charges. I have booked flights from NYC to the Philippines for $500 roundtrip including taxes using this site! That price is an absolute steal. Usually these flights can run into the thousands. I just booked a roundtrip flight from NYC to Puerto Vallarta, Mexico for $270 bucks. Another absurdly amazing price.
Once you find a destination that you like, you will be instructed on where to book the deal online and which dates to use to get the steal of a deal advertised price. But you must act fast as these seats usually get sold out very quickly.
Here’s a tip to save even more money. Usually The Flight Deal website will instruct you to go directly to sites like Orbitz.com or Travelocity.com to book your flight. But before you navigate away to these websites, first go to Ebates.com (sign up if you don’t have an account yet) and then go to the travel search engine sites. Currently, Ebates will pay you up to 7% cash back if you book through Orbitz.com and Travelocity.com. That’s free money you are leaving on the table if you don’t go to Ebates first before booking your flight. It’s kind of a no brainer to do this.
After you have booked your incredibly cheap flight from The Flight Deal, you will need to find a hotel. Or you can go the Airbnb.com route. I like to compare which accommodations will give me the better price between hotel vs. renting a house or apt. But I would be weary of using Airbnb in developing countries because I am just paranoid. I have only used Airbnb within the US and I have had mostly good experiences using their service. Read all reviews carefully before booking anything. If there are no reviews available, I would think twice before booking that property.
If you want to book a hotel room, then I really like using Hotels.com. Sign up for an account if you don’t already have one. The biggest reason why I like them is because if you book 10 nights using their service, you will get a one night free stay. That is huge! You don’t need to book 10 nights in one trip. You can book 2 nights here, 3 nights there whenever you need a hotel room. And before you know it, you will get a free night stay. Also Hotels.com usually offers secret prices for their users that are super cheap. They have the best hotel prices that I have seen online.
For me, when I know I saved a bundle on my flight, I like to splurge a little more for my accommodations. In other words, I don’t want to stay in a flea bag motel just to save a few bucks. So if you can afford it, live a little. I’m not promoting that you should get the best room at the Four Seasons. But again, always read the reviews before booking anything.
Remember to login to Ebates.com before booking your accommodations at Hotels.com. Currently they are offering 4% cash back on this. Just make it easier on yourself and go to Ebates.com before you buy anything online. I really can’t stress this enough. Make it a habit every time you purchase something online so you can possibly always get cash back on everything.
Booking Car Rentals
If you need to rent a car on your vacation, I like to use priceline.com and bid on one. I found that to get the best price you need to set your pickup and drop off location at an airport. I like to start bidding at $20 bucks a day for a car. But it’s a crap shoot whether you will get it at that price or not. If not, just up your bid $5 bucks every time. Whichever price you get, it usually is a lot cheaper than what the rental car company will quote you directly.
Another reminder that you need to go to Ebates.com before surfing to priceline.com. You can get up to 10% cashback for this one.
If you have preferred/gold status with a car rental company, then please go ahead and check if that gets you a better price.
Sites like Orbitz.com will bundle flights, hotels and a car rental in one price, also known as a vacation package. Sometimes these prices will actually be lower than booking everything separately. What I like to do is shop and compare. See how much everything costs by booking separately and compare the price to booking the same thing via a vacation package. Obviously you want to book the lower priced deal. But if the price difference is not that significant, you may want to book separately otherwise you will lose the Hotels.com free night after 10 night stay benefit. Just something to think about.
So now you know how I book my vacations. Please give it a try and let me know if you have a better and more inexpensive way of booking your trips. We would all love to hear it.
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