***Twelve Weeks of Christmas. Because twenty four hours is not enough! Check out the previous posts here.
With the holidays fast approaching, many people are no doubt making travel plans. However, in this economy* this can prove to be difficult for some.
(*I feel like “in this economy” is one of the most overused phrases of all time and I have trouble saying it with a serious expression. “In this economy” is to 21st century adults as “like” is to tweens. Which doesn’t mean I don’t think we’re in a state of economic difficulty, but… like, you know what I mean.)
Never fear! The Ginger Penny Pincher is here – ready to offer some helpful, money-saving wesbites for a happier holiday season!
Now, if you have ready any of this blog, you know that I often laud the Internet for being one of the best money-saving resources (here’s an example of my gushing about the dubya-dubya-dubya). With travel planning, this doubly applies. More often than not, hotels or modes of transportation, i.e., planes, trains, buses, rental cars, have their cheapest rates online, e.g., “web rates.”
(Did you see how I just used two Latin abbreviations there? That was a bit much, even for me.)
Sometimes it takes a bit more work, but if you put forth the effort, it will almost always reap savings. And… better still, I have provided a list – “What? You? A list?!” – of some of my favorite money-saving travel websites, so there’s half the work done for you!
You’re so welcome.
The Ginger Penny Pincher’s Favorite CHEAP TRAVEL Websites:
(note: These tips are offered with a distinctive traveling-within-the-continental-United-States slant. I’m not a world traveler (yet), so I have less help to offer in that department, but if you have any tips for international travel, please feel free to leave them in comment form below!)
This is one of my favorites! My friend, Naomi suggested this one to me last Christmas, and I have successfully used it on three different occasions. This website is unique in that it usually offers “last-minute” options (thus, the name of the website). However, “last-minute” part can be loosely translated as I have seen GREAT deals – and even taken advantage of some of them – that were available even two months out. Here you can find great deals on hotels, airfare, cruises, packages, and more for silly cheap. The deal is that they buy blocks of hotel rooms or what-have-you at discounted prices directly from the hotels with the hopes that they’ll be able to fill of their rooms (or in the case of planes or cruise ships, seats or cabins, respectively). For example, right now there’s a 3-day, all-inclusive cruise to the Bahamas for a mere $169/pp. Silly times!
When my husband, father, and I visited NYC this past July to find an apartment, we stayed on the Upper West Side (read: affluent neighborhood with high rents) for $85/night. This is unheard of in NYC, much less any other city. We used LastMinuteTravel.com, set the dates and price range, and this was both the best deal AND one of the most highly rated in our search.
Another reason LMT is able to do what they do is because they don’t always offer deals on the well-known hotel groups (though sometimes). They work with lesser-known, but still high quality groups and hotels in order to offer these deals. In fact, Astor on the Park, the hotel where we stayed in NYC, only sells their rooms through LMT and other websites like this, so we wouldn’t have heard about it had we not used this source. The other catch is that they do not disclose the name of your hotel before booking. However, they do tell you the general geographic area, the number ofstars (so you have some expectations), and the amenities. Even though this seems like it would be very nerve-wracking, it’s always more than worked out for us and out lodging experiences!
I’m not sure why more people don’t talk about this website, but it’s seriously another one of my favorites. I’ve actually been using this one for as long as I’ve legally been able to travel alone (I cannot even count how many college theatre conferences and auditions were made possible because of this website). It’s a lot like some of the other, more well- known travel websites… but I don’t know… I just like it more!
Ok, I haven’t used this yet, but I know so many folks who have and LOVE it! You can see why, with rates starting at $1! (“What?!”) And yes, it’s exactly what it sounds like: a bus, that’s mega! It services the U.S., the U.K., and Canada and offers value pricing for a limited number of destinations (though they’re adding more and more itineraries all the time). Here’s the description from their website: “Megabus.com is the first, low-cost, express bus service to offer city-to-city travel for as low as $1 via the Internet.” They also offer luxury double and triple decker buses with free wi-fi, set plug-ins, and more.
This is like Yelp.com for travel (though I’m sure Yelp could help you with travel, too). With over 50 million reviews and opinions, this is one of the best resources for reading more about a hotel, a specific restaurant, an attraction, etc. Mainly, I have used it for hotels in cities or parts of town that I’m less familiar with. If I’m worried that I might not feel safe, or if I think a particular hotel might be dirty or smoky I can look it up before I book it.
This website is, as the name indicates, a watchdog for the fluctuating prices of airfare. Ifv you put yourself on their mailing list (or check the website multiple times a day) they will notify you of the best time to buy the cheapest fair., and I mean the cheapest. For example, right now they are featuring numerous round-trip fares starting at $34 from Detroit to NYC, from Myrtle Beach to Atlantic City, from Washington D.C., to Fort Lauderdale, etc. (and that’s a serious et cetera).
Powered by the search engine, Bing.com, this price predictor specifically applies to hotel and flight bookings. With flights, they either tell you to “Buy Now (Fares will rise).” Or “Wait. (Fares will drop).” With hotels, they guide you in the right direction to get the best deal (within a city or neighborhood) and they provide an assessment of current pricing so you know whether it’s “a deal” not a deal” or the “average rate.”
These are my favorites, some less known than others. These are also the ones that I have had the most success with, or have had close friends have great success… or both! Of course, I would be remiss if I didn’t mention the other big sites out there that can undoubtedly offer you great deals, too.
So… here they are:
As I mentioned, I have had little to no dealings with these bigger, more well-established websites, but of course that doesn’t mean they don’t have their merits. It’s just that, more often than not, I find better deals on the other websites, or they are more user-friendly, or both.
Here’s where you come in:
Have you used any of the above websites? Where did you get the best deal? Or have the best booking experience? Do you have any other travel websites that I haven’t mentioned that could help the GPP readers out? Do you want a hippopotamus for Christmas? Let me know in comment form below, or you can e-mail me: firstname.lastname@example.org!
***And feel free to check out the previous Twelve Weeks of Christmas posts here!