Get More Value for Your Travel Dollar
Just a few weeks ago, I booked my annual winter getaway to southwest Florida. My round trip first class tickets on Delta with full travel insurance were less expensive than the last-minute coach tickets without travel insurance that I purchased last year. What was the difference? It all came down to timing and how I did my search.
Here are six tips to get more value for your travel dollar:
- How far to plan ahead? Everybody seems to have their own favorite number. I’ve seen recommendations to book ranging from 25-150 days before the trip. The most commonly repeated numbers are 49-54 days beforehand. (International travel is longer; book 80-90 days beforehand.)
- Does booking on a certain day help? According to multiple travel writers, the best days for finding airfare deals are Tuesdays and Wednesdays. Never book on Mondays because most business travel is booked on Mondays. Fridays-Sundays are prime time for vacation booking because couples are at home together and can discuss travel plans.
- What about your actual travel days? If you can be flexible, travel on Tuesdays and Wednesdays is less expensive than other days of the week. Weekends (Fri-Sun) are obvious busy days, Thursday is popular with those taking an extra day away from the office and Monday is for business travel.
- Want to be sneaky? Hide yourself! This trick surprised even me. Two friends reported that they received lower rates when they used a web browser that disguised their location! By using Google Chrome and hiding their location from the airline’s web site, their quotes fares fell over $200.00 per person! This may also work in reverse, so try searching both blocked and unblocked.
- Check multiple sites. The airline’s official site and third party travel sites like Travelocity frequently have different prices for the same flight. Just be sure to watch out for any additional hidden fees!
- Get a credit card with travel benefits and join a frequent flyer club. Members usually have booking privileges, and sometimes those privileges include discounted airfare that’s unavailable elsewhere.
In my case, I planned ahead and booked 7 months in advance. I booked on a Tuesday. Flying on Wednesdays saved $300 per person over Thursday and $700+ per person versus Friday, Saturday, and Sunday. Though I didn’t learn about blocking my location until after booking, I checked fares on Delta’s own site, four third-party travel sites, and through American Express Travel. Though AMEX Travel was $11 more expensive than one of the third-party discount sites, using my AMEX card to book through AMEX travel doubled my reward points and offered additional benefits.
I hope these six tips help you get the most value from your vacation dollar!