Going on vacation doesn’t have to break the bank. Nor does it have to involve endless back and forth with travel agents, or annoying late night searches thinking you’ll get a better deal at non-peak hours (that’s only true sometimes). Yes, I’ve been the victim of paying way too much for a flight or thinking the resort I picked was the best of the ten billion I researched (and it really wasn’t), but I have learned a few tricks along the way to score some of the best travel deals. Travel lovers, this one’s for you.
1. Do your research and get the cheapest flight
It sounds obvious, but if you don’t get the cheapest flight possible, it will quickly eat into your budget while on vacation. It takes some patience and shopping around, but you can find them. I can’t stress it enough: look at every site you can to compare costs. Check out Kayak, Jet Radar, Google Flights, and actual airlines (West Jet, Air Canada, American Airlines, Air Emirates, etc.). Set up email alerts to notify you when there are seat sales.
Pro tip: Tuesdays and Wednesdays are the best days to search for the cheapest flights.
2. Don’t stay in a hotel (and make sure you negotiate)
If you haven’t already jumped on the airbnb bandwagon, you need to. There are incredible deals for full apartments and houses, meaning you will have access to even more amenities than a hotel would provide, meaning you will save money on not eating out three times a day. The price is lower, the places are better equipped, and you can pinpoint exactly what area you want to be in. There are some incredible places to stay in, so shop around and see what style fits you best. And ignore the horror stories online, I can’t even imagine what’s gone on in certain hotel rooms pre-social media.
Pro tip: Negotiate the price. Unless the property is in hot demand in peak season, why can’t you get a bit of a deal on a unit that would otherwise sit vacant?
3. Be aware of hidden fees
If you’ve traveled anywhere, at any point in your life, you’re aware of hidden fees. And while legislation has made them less sneaky, they’re still there. Extra fees could be baggage (some flights don’t even allow one freebie anymore), gear (heading on a snowboarding trip?), or internet (it happened to me on a trip to Chicago, $30/day for dodgy internet, no thanks).
Pro tip: Set a budget and stick to it. It will help you from splurging and booking something you had your heart set on, before you saw the extra fees.
4. Plan ahead and pay upfront
If you have the luxury of planning ahead (especially for an all-inclusive), do it. Certain resorts will offer a discount (from 10 to 30 per cent) if you book and pay six months in advance.
Pro tip: Do your research to make sure it’s a reputable resort before giving them advance payment (it would be a real bummer if they closed.)
5. Become a frequent flyer, a member at your favourite resort and use Groupon
Long story short: there’s a lot of opportunities for deals online. It can get a bit overwhelming, which is why email notifications are helpful so the deals you want come directly to your inbox. Groupon has great deals to specific locations, whether you’re looking for local or abroad. Larger resorts down South tend to have member benefits, and most of them are free to sign up. Frequent flyer points are also a good idea, especially if you like to travel on the same airline.
Pro tip: Travel plans changing? Turn your email notifications off and update whatever city or resort you have your heart set on. That way, your inbox won’t fill with irrelevant deals, making you miss out on the ones you want to read.