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Secret Tricks to Grabbing the Best Travel Deals

by Shawanda Greene

Many Americans spend the whole year fantasizing about those precious few weeks of vacation, when they can escape corporate politicking and their tuna-fish-sandwich-eating office mate.

But if you want to truly unwind during your time off, don’t allow money worries to cloud your brain. Making the most of your travel dollars will give you peace of mind and set the stage for a relaxing vacation.

Airfare


I often hear tales of people who snag free airfare with frequent flyer miles. But I give zero regard to an airline’s service or customer rating, which is why I use aggregators such as Mobissimo and Kayak.com to find the cheapest flights.

Use Manilla, a productivity tool that helps you organize frequent flyer numbers, among other things, in one location.

Additionally, get on the TravelZoo email list, and receive the week’s top 20 best travel deals (many of which include steep discounts on airfare) delivered directly to your inbox.

Lodging

Admittedly, I’ve scored a number of decent hotel deals through Priceline and Expedia. But personally, I’m over hotels. Their rooms are usually cramped and overpriced. For affordable and spacious accommodations, check out HomeAway, 9flats.com, and, my personal fave, Airbnb.

Rental Car

With Autoslash, you reserve your car rental through their website at the regular price. After booking, without further action on your part, Autoslash applies available coupons and discounts to your reservation. The company automatically rebooks your car rental if the price declines prior to your pick-up time.

Forgo the headache and added expense of rental cars completely by lodging near the places you’ll likely visit on your trip. Input the address of your destination on Hipmunk and the site displays a map that includes nearby hotels along with their TripAdvisor review rating and nightly price.

Meals

It’s easy to get caught up in the hunt for the best airfare, hotel, and auto rental deals. But you might overlook an expense that can blow deep holes in your vacation budget: meals.

Stretch food dollars by planning where you’ll eat. UrbanSpoon.com allows you to search for restaurants by neighborhood, price, and cuisine.

And don’t forget to check-in on Foursquare for surprise specials.

By opting for lodging with a kitchen and eating in, true travel ninjas save even more money. Cooking at least some meals at home will free up cash to spend at fancier eating joints.

If you found this information helpful, please share with your social network.

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{ 10 comments… read them below or add one }

Lauren @ LBee and the Money Tree August 27, 2012 at 9:34 AM

I am a huge fan or Airtran, because the fights are usually so cheap and their rewards program is one of the best. You only have to take four round trip flights to get a free ticket!
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Shawanda Greene August 29, 2012 at 12:39 PM

Say whaaat? That’s news to me. I’ll have to start giving AirTran a closer look.
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femmefrugality August 27, 2012 at 12:09 PM

Amazing tips! I’ve never heard of a bunch of these places before. I do care about safety ratings, though, with airlines. Especially regional ones.
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Shawanda Greene August 29, 2012 at 12:47 PM

Ya know, I figure airplane crashes are so infrequent (at least that’s the case for ones operated by commercial airlines), I never give safety ratings a second thought.
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Aaron Hung@ aaronhung.com August 28, 2012 at 11:35 AM

I just sign up for a Venture Card with capital one, hope it’ll pay off :) Because I love traveling to Sandals resort so it’ll save me some money hehe
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Shawanda Greene August 29, 2012 at 12:53 PM

I’m a big fan of credit cards that offer rewards. I don’t use one for airfare discounts, but I love my American Express Hilton Honors card. I don’t use it as much as I did in the past because I think I can find pretty good deals on lodging. But I need to evaluate whether my Amazon Visa (my new everyday credit card) offers the same amount of financial benefit as the Amex.
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Kelly@FinancialFixers September 26, 2012 at 9:57 AM

I like that you included eating as one of the major expenses of travel because it’s so true. Especially if you’re exploring a new destination, it really helps to use online sites and smartphone apps to find the best places, because people (concierge and other travelers alike) will all tell you the “hot-spots” to eat, which are usually mediocre food with inflated prices. Staying in an apartment or home will allow you to grocery shop and cook your own food to save a good amount of money.
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STEVEN J. FROMM, ATTORNEY, LL.M. (TAXATION) March 8, 2013 at 8:38 AM

Thanks for the tips. I especially liked the airline tips and am going to try Mobissimo, Kayak and Travel Zoo.

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