Booking flights and hotels can really add up when planning a trip, and when you travel as often as I do, every dollar counts. These top 10 flight hacks and travel booking tips will help you save big, and get the best deals when booking flights and hotels so that you can travel smarter and more often. Keep reading to learn my top 10 travel hacks and find my bonuses at the end for how I traveled to Bora Bora for practically free, and how to book business class flights for economy prices.
The Top 10 Best Hotel & Flight Hacks for Saving Money
When planning a trip, the first thing I do is a run a search on Google Flights and Momondo to get a general idea of how much flights are to the destination I want to go to. Then, after taking into consideration any credit card points, frequent flyer programs I may belong to and any hotel loyalty program benefits I can apply, I run through the following expert travel hacks to see how I can save the most money as possible.
1. Look for Hotels.com gift cards
Every once in a while Amazon will sell Hotels.com gift cards on sale (i.e. 20% off so $100 card would be only $80.) You can be notified when these deals come up by signing up to Amazon Lightning Deals. Another option is to search websites where people sell their gift cards such as giftcardgranny.com, cardcash.com, or raise.com.
2. Take advantage of hotel’s best rate guarantee
Most hotel chain websites have a “best rate guarantee” policy. The money-saving strategy here is to book on the hotel’s site while searching travel and hotel aggregation sites such as Hotels.com, Expedia.com, and Priceline.com for rooms that cost lower than what is listed on the hotel’s main site. Then you will show the hotel you’re booking with the price difference which can result in them crediting you back, giving you cash, giving you points, or giving you a percentage off your stay (every policy is different.) Keep in mind you have 24 hours to show them the better price you found, or if they have a flexible rate policy you can book that and cancel at any time.
3. Fly via hidden city tickets
Skiplagged.com is a site where you can find discounts on one-way flights via searching for hidden city tickets and is one of the most popular cheap flight hacks. A hidden city ticket is when you purchase a ticket that has your destination as a stopover on a multi-leg flight (and thus may be cheaper.) If the flight you want is too expensive on regular travel booking sites, Skiplagged is a good alternative to help you find cheaper flights to book. Warning: you won’t be able to check any bags (carry-on only because you’ll be missing the connecting flight where the bags are going) and you should not put your frequent flyer account on there or book a round-trip ticket because airlines frown upon this method and may cancel your return ticket if they find you are doing this.
4. Take advantage of Expedia’s 24 flight cancellation policy
If you’re not totally sure about a trip you want to book, Expedia.com has a 24-hour flight cancellation policy where if you book your flight on a Friday, you have until Monday to cancel your flight because the policy runs on business days. This gives you the whole weekend to sort out your plans.
5. Use incognito mode on your web browser when searching for flights
Sites like Kayak, Expedia, and Priceline can raise the price of the same flight every time you run a flight search for it, so to combat this when you’re searching for cheap flights, make sure you are searching with Incognito mode on your search engine and browser (i.e. on Chrome).
6. Search the airline ticket sites of different countries
Another one of my flight booking hacks is to search your desired flights on different country’s websites such as Kayak.com.au/flights to find better ticket fares. In addition to having a different pricing system which can produce cheaper flights, being charged in Australian dollars can also sometimes result in a cheaper fare compared to USD, Euro, or other currencies. You can also use a VPN to change the location of where you’re searching from. Try searching from the destination you are trying to visit (or one nearby).
7. Use Priceline’s last-minute booking deals to save vacation money
With last minute booking on Priceline.com, you will be given a price, a window of departure times (morning and evening flights) the number of stops, and a handful of airlines but you won’t know exactly which flight you’ll be on until you book. I used this when I booked a flight from New York to Los Angeles the day before and paid $300 instead of $500 for a non-stop flight with American Airlines.
8. Buy airport lounge passes on eBay
If you don’t have any VIP lounge club memberships like Priority Pass or credit cards that offer you lounge access, you can buy passes on eBay for huge savings. If a pass is about to expire, sometimes the passes are on sale for as little as $1.00. Airport lounge passes are especially great for if you have a long layover. Acquiring one for cheap can also help you save money if you plan to eat or drink in the airport. We all know everything sold inside airports are wildy overpriced, but in the lounge you are able to eat and drink for free.
9. Get dropped off at arrivals
Driving through airport traffic can be brutal. Especially if you’re stressing that you’re going to miss you flight. If you need to catch a flight during busy hours at a busy airport, get dropped off at arrivals and take the elevator/escalator up to departures (or however the layout of the airport is) to save you money and time. The way many major airports are designed is that there is usually much less traffic at arrivals than departures, so this hack will save you both time and money.
10. Watch for fees
Pay close attention when booking flights to avoid any hidden fees (such as baggage), which are most common on budget airlines. If you need to check a bag, pay for baggage in advance as it will usually be cheaper. If you have an overweight bag, before paying the fee check to see how much it is to upgrade your seat. Sometimes it will be cheaper than the overweight fee and will allow you a heavier bag.
Even More Travel Tips & Hacks to Know:
- Travel during off season or shoulder season when prices are generally the cheapest.
- Set up flight alerts on sites like Google Flights or Hopper to notify you when there is a drop in airfare.
- Use Skyscanner to see the cheapest day or month to fly.
- Always check flights to nearby airports.
- Consider a long layover. It’s a great way to experience a new city and get a 2-for-1 trip!
- Once you find a cheap flight you want to take, double check to see if booking directly with the airline could be even cheaper (sometimes it is!)
- If you are traveling with someone, always book the window and the aisle seat toward the back of the plane. You may get lucky and end up having a whole row to yourselves. If someone books the middle and you want to sit next to your travel companion, the middle seat will 99.9% of the time gladly switch for an aisle or window. Additionally, when picking seats in advance, check Seat Guru to see which seat is the most desierable to you.Have any hacks that weren’t mentioned here? Share them in the comments below!