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I was talking with a friend recently and shared a few travel sites (and apps) that help me save on vacation. After so many years of travel blogging, I wonder if maybe I’ve forgotten that what comes naturally to me isn’t so easy for others. She didn’t know about most of these travel savings tools!
If you fall into the category of “there’s a website for that?,” this post is for you!
How to save money on vacation
Best travel sites for flights
- Momondo: This free travel search site compares billions of flights and hotels (though I’ve only used it for flights so far) to save money. Momondo is not owned by anyone, so the site offers all the deals out there. You simply click on the best deal to fit your needs and go directly to the booking site. Easy peasy! A great tip: If you’re not picky about where to go, look for deals during time of travel and save on new destinations!
- Scott’s Cheap Flights: This subscription based site compares flights for international travel to help you find the best deals as they happen. My son and his wife used the free version earlier this year to score $400 roundtrip tickets to Madrid. The paid version offers a greater variety of deals.
Best travel sites for hotels and accommodations
- Trivago: Like Momondo, Trivago searches more than 180 hotel databases to find the best prices on hotel sites around the world, including the hotel sites and discounters. Find the best deal and click on the deal button to go to the booking site. From there, you make the reservation just like you would directly on any site. Trivago also includes millions of reviews and photos to help you choose the best.
- Booking.com: Save on hotels and other accommodations around the world with Booking.com. You can use it for hotels (though I prefer Trivago for that), and also for B&Bs, vacation homes, apartment rentals and even hostels. Search popular destinations around the world to explore vacation ideas for any budget! It’s a great way to discover new places you never thought you could afford.
Best vacation package sites
- Apple Vacations: One of the largest travel package sites in the US and Canada, Apple Vacations has been offering great value vacations for more than 40 years. An award winning company, their mission statement is to provide the ultimate beginning to end vacation experience for customers.
- Kayak: Another comparison site, Kayak lets you compare vacation packages easily. Input your search parameters and compare details. Then, click through to complete your reservation.
Best apps to save on travel
When you’re on the go, your phone can be a great money saver. I use these apps all the time to save on everything travel related — hotel stays, gas and food, especially.
- Hotel Tonight: This app works with hotels to sell last minute rooms at a discount. We once got a suite that sleeps six for only $60/night — breakfast included! I’ve saved an average of 30% off the listed rack rate at other times. Off season savings are even greater, though. Using the app (up to seven days in advance), search for available rooms where you’re going. Then, pick the one that fits your needs best. When you get the app, please use my referral code: KDAWKINS2. (It helps me save on a future hotel stay so I can provide more great content!)
- Gas Buddy: I think you’ll agree, you’d rather spend money doing things on vacation than on gas to get there. Right? With Gas Buddy, you’ll find the lowest gas prices wherever you are — and it even tells you which brand (in case you use a gas rewards card). We use Gas Buddy for travel, but also for regular old fill ups around town. I really don’t want to pay more than necessary for fuel!
- OpenTable: Make dining reservations across the world and earn points toward future discounts. Every time you dine, you earn 100 points. Earn 2,000 points to receive a $20 discount the next time you eat out. Some tips: It helps to book early for the most flexibility. Sometimes, restaurants use tables near the kitchen for Open Table reservations. But, if you’re not picky, you save.
Saving with loyalty programs
Frequent travelers might find that travel rewards programs ultimately offer the greatest savings over time. Use these tips for greater savings with travel rewards:
- Brand loyalty! Stick to one brand to accumulate the greatest savings over time.
- Piggyback savings. Look for brand partners when signing up for rewards programs. I use American Express to book travel. I save on Delta travel, but also on hotel stays, car rentals and other things. Points add up on each stay or car rental, leading to free flights, hotel nights and car rental discounts even faster. Special offers (like cash back for eating at restaurants I regularly enjoy), help me save even more.
- Call and ask! Perhaps the best way to save money is to ask for a discount! Because I tend to use the same hotel brand, there’s a record of my frequent visits. When booking, I call to ask for a better rate than I find on discount sites — and I often get it. Not always, but when I do, it’s usually a good savings over what I can find online.
Using these travel sites and savings tools, you’ll spend less on travel (air or car) and save on accommodations. That way, you’ve got more to spend doing fun things! And on vacation, isn’t that what you should spend money on?
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