Gone are the days when I used to go deal-hunting by visiting travel agencies. My last 10 trips have all been found in the comfort of my own home by simply looking online. This is not to say that travel agency are extinct altogether, however after comparing the deals I found online to similar deals offered by physical agencies, I found that prices online are comparably better. I am guessing it is due to less overhead costs. Fewer commissions paid to the sales agent and higher competition probably allows online companies to offer a better rate. Here are the steps I have taken to find amazing travel deals online.
1. Clear your cookies!
Before you start binging on those cookies, please read the following. You will not get better deals by emptying your cookie jar. ‘Cookies’ are a way that websites are able to track where you have been online, as well as what you have been looking for. Many travel websites are able to tell when you have purchased from them before and may give you a higher price if you deem you to be a loyal customer. Clearing cookies give you a fresh and fair start in finding a great price – so remember to always clear your cookies through your browser’s settings, or be sure to use a computer that you have not purchased a trip online.
2. Google is your ‘best friend’
If you’re not already best friends with Google, you’ll need to develop that relationship. Before you find the best deal, you’ll probably be searching that you’ll encounter CAPTCHA (human verification) to show Google that you’re not abusing your friendship. With Google’s algorithm becoming increasingly complex, it is becoming even easier to find what you are searching for. You can type a long phrase such as “cheap deals from Washington dc to new york” and expect reasonably relevant results to be displayed. My recent trips from Washington DC to New York City have been purchased from www.ilikebus.com, which was found when searching through Google. If you don’t find what you’re looking for within the first few results, you can probably revise your search based on what results you found.. until you find the website that has the trip you’re looking for — at the price you’re willing to pay.
3. Flexible travel dates and booking early
I have found that the more flexible my travel dates have been in the past few years, the better deals I have been able to land. Tuesdays are considered “cheat days” for most travel and entertainment industries since the volume of ticket purchases on these days are usually less popular. The less fussy you are able to travel dates, the better deal you’ll be able to find online since you’ll be able to look through many different ranges of dates, which will usually have their own pricing. Some websites like www.flighthub.com also have an option for “flexible dates”, which scans pricing through a variety of dates close to the dates you’ve picked. Generally, the rule of thumb is that the earlier you book a flight, the cheaper the price is. This occurs because by doing so, you will be purchasing a trip before the demand catches up with the available supply for this trip.
4. Consider searching for hotels and flights separately and as a bundle
Different companies will offer different ways of bundling trips. While at times bundles can offer amazing value, you will find that sometimes buying hotels and flights separately can give you even better pricing. Based on your destinations, there may be certain bargains online that offer stays at hotels, which can include meals and discount vouchers to various venues at amazing prices.