Nothing feeds the soul like a change of scenery. Every spring, millions of people become infected with wanderlust and start scoping out exotic destinations. And these days, more and more travelers are doing it online.
The only problem? The cooler the tourist attraction, the more it costs—or so it seems.
Booking travel can put a hurt on the family budget, and that pain point has given rise to travel hacks and agents that claim to perform miracles. You know who else has taken note? Industry insiders with real travel booking tips. Airlines, hotels, and car rental brands have gotten hip and they’re pulling back the curtain to show consumers exactly how to get the best bang for their travel buck.
That means you don’t have to hack the system for the best deal anymore. Here are six of the most brilliant travel booking tips that modern explorers can take advantage of:
1. Save by Channeling Your Inner Internet Spy
It’s infuriating to realize why airline tickets climb as you shop sites for the best price: many travel sites install cookies to track your online activity, so when an algorithm figures out you’re hooked on one destination or travel date, it boosts the price. Circumvent this trickery by using an “incognito” tab in your favorite browser. The techies at Wake Forest University explain the keyboard combinations that can help you browse options anonymously.
If you’re looking to do some serious sleuthing (and have as many booking websites open as possible) you’re going to want a nice, wide monitor to simultaneously display all those travel opportunities. In this case, the 21:9 UltraWide IPS Monitor by LG will be the tool you need to get the job done.
2. Consider Joining a Club
No, not all travel programs are worth your loyalty, but some plans offer legit shortcuts. Take, for example, the FastBreak rental program from Budget. When booking travel, you can get hooked up with your favorite rental car without having to wait in line. Best of all, at the end of your excursion, you can drop your car back off and run. Later, a receipt magically appears in your inbox.
3. Save by Booking on Certain Days
When deciding when to take flight, there are a few tricks for finding the lowest prices for flights to a particular destination. First, consider booking your ticket on a Sunday (at least 21 days in advance of the departure date), according to finance guru Clark Howard‘s website. Second, see if you can make your travel day a Tuesday, Wednesday, or Saturday, which are the cheapest days to fly, USA Today notes.
You can easily calculate the optimal travel dates and plan far ahead with the help of a large Dry Erase Monthly Calendar Memo Board. If you like to visually count down to your departure date (or just need to be reminded when it’s time to start packing), this can help you prepare for your trip. Best of all, since it’s a dry erase board, you can resuse it for all of your future travels!
4. Make Layovers Fun Using Apps
Save money by deliberately choosing flights that include a layover. It’s not a bitter pill if you know how to make the most of it.
Here’s a tip: hop online before your trip and search for “things to do in (layover city),” or ditch the browser altogether and choose a cultural experience—think seafood, improv, or sightseeing—on a whim, using an app like LivingSocial. Then make arrangements to rent a car for a few hours. Finally, prevent the driving-around-looking-for-a-parking-spot scenario by using an app like ParkMobile to reserve a parking spot in advance (yes, you can reserve parking places!) and seamlessly pay without fumbling for cash and coins.
5. Earn Travel Every Day
Imagine earning points every time you fill the gas tank or splurge on a new outfit. Envision getting double points for everyday necessities at the grocery store. Then, picture yourself redeeming those points for a flight to your choice of sunny beach, a guided zip line getaway, or a city nightlife destination.
Depending on your approach to credit, the best way to save on travel could be ditching your standard credit card for one that contributes to your travel fund every time you swipe. There are a few options available, so compare them to choose. One good example is the card offered by JetBlue, which lets you pool your points with family members to max out your earning power. When comparing options in anticipation of booking travel plans, remember to check if a provider’s travel points ever expire.
6. Save by Comparing
Obviously, shopping around can reveal the best “deal,” but some sites do the work for you. For example, the Price Guarantee tool provided by Expedia shows the best bargain, then confidently offers to pay travelers the difference (plus $50!) if they’re able to find a lower price somewhere else.
Don’t sacrifice a memorable vacation for savings (or vice versa). Get the best of both worlds. Take advice from players inside the travel industry, and both your scrapbook and your wallet will thank you.