As some who would rather be traveling than doing anything else I’ve been asked “how can you afford to go on all these trips?” more than enough times over the years. Sure traveling expenses can add up if you’re mindless of your spending while on vaycay, but as for planning for that vacation…you don’t have to blow your budget all in one place.
Finding a good travel deal is simply the result of two crucial factors: effort and flexibility. The more effort you put into browsing websites, reading recommendations online, and subscribing to the right travel rewards programs, the better your odds at finding that bargain flight. Ask any of my roommates and they can testify that if I’m on the computer I’m either doing one of two things: homework or looking for flights. The same applies for flexibility; the more flexible you are with your travel dates, the easier it will be to travel on off days or times.
So what happens if you don’t have the time to devote to checking travel sites every hour of every week to catch the best deals?
Fear not because here is a list of 9 travel sites you should have bookmarked years ago!
I find that Tripdelta works best for transcontinental flights as it was designed by travel coding hackers to find the best combination of non-direct flights and layovers to get you to your destination the cheapest way possible. Usually the suggested itineraries are by no means the fastest route, however they are significantly cheaper than what you would find directly on airlines’ websites.
Travelzoo offers great limited time vacation packages specials for domestic or international travel. The best part of the website though is their weekly Top 20 Deals which can be emailed to you after subscribing. Some of the packages I have seen posted here are jaw dropping and make dream trips to floating cottages in Fiji a reality.
For domestic and shorter flights, Skyscanner is a star. In addition to finding offers cheaper than direct airline sites, I think the coolest feature is the “anywhere” or “anytime” option available when searching. If you don’t know where you want to go, but have a week of vacation time in mind, leave the destination portion of your search blank and let Skyscanner suggest destinations based on the best prices that week. Or, if you know where you want to go, but are flexible with your travel dates, choose anytime, or any time within a specific month and prepare to be amazed.
Sometimes getting to your destination isn’t the problem, it’s getting around once there. Or, if you’re traveling somewhere like Europe, traveling between countries affordably can be a hassle. Cue BlaBlaCar, a rideshare website that offers extremely affordable seats in peoples’ cars when traveling between major cities (or sometimes smaller ones too). All drivers have a rating system similar to AirBnB so some level of safety is provided.
Routinely this site surprises me with the cheapest air and hotel packages for vacations within the USA. The site does offer packages to the Caribbean as well, but I have found that their American options are always significantly lower than Expedia bundle packages.
6. Spirit Air
People always laugh at me whenever I say I have flown flights that cost me $9 (not including taxes of course). As a member of Spirit Air’s “$9 Fare Club” you pay a one time membership fee that grants access to these exclusive $9 fares, and email notifications when they occur. I will forewarn everyone, if you were to look up “budget airline” in the dictionary there would definitely be a photo of the Spirit Air logo. But warning aside, if you love the thrill of travel as much as I do, you can go without your complimentary water and pretzels for a flight or two.
Need a roof over your head for your next vacation? Consider VRBO. The site is essentially a significantly less popular AirBnB as travelers are able to rent out houses, condos, rooms in houses, etc. all following the same AirBnB format. Since it’s not as popular though, there’s less competition for finding rooms during peak seasons without the expense (at least I haven’t noticed it) of there being less rooms posted/offered during those times.
8. Groupon Vacations
Most people associate Groupon with snagging great deals on a yoga class or a haircut but don’t rule out travel deals my friends! Groupon has a travel tab option on their site, which highlights limited time hotel and air+hotel packages. Most packages include flights that depart from major US cities, and there is often flexibility to choose different options with different dates.
9. Secret Flying
You know those travel deals that just seem too good to be true? Well, sometimes they are in fact just that. The airline industry despises these “error fares” but thankfully the folks at Secret Flying are always on the hunt to catch these mistakes. I don’t even know where to begin on some of the most amazing fares I have seen. Domestic travel errors do happen, but most of the time errors occur on international flights.
So now that you know these hidden gems, what are you waiting for!? Travel is one of those things that people talk the talk, but never walk the walk. They say you only live once don’t they? So brush off the dust from that passport and start packing my friends. Happy Travels!