There are many ways to find good vacation deals. When most people book a vacation, they go straight to the standard websites and accept the prices they’re being offered. You can do that, but you’re probably wasting money. Some people also take the very inexpensive route by searching for Airbnb accommodations. That can work, but you have to be very selective and understand what that host is offering. More on that soon. In the meantime, let’s take a look at some unconventional yet effective ways to save money on vacations.
If you plan on flying to a destination, do not go to Google and type in where you’re flying from and your destination. Instead, use Skyscanner.com. This is a Scottish-based company that was purchased by Ctrip in 2016. Ctrip is the largest travel company in China, and its Skyscanner subsidiary is used by more than 60 million people per month. It’s incredible that most Americans haven’t caught on to Skyscanner yet.
When you enter your city of origin, destination, and dates of travel, the site automatically searches all flight possibilities from around the world and then presents you with the best and cheapest options. The best option is based on value and travel time. The cheapest option might mean a lot of layovers. Simply by using Skyscanner alone, you’re usually going to save more money than you would on traditional vacation deals.
If you’re not familiar with the rewards program on Hotels.com, you get one free night after every 10 nights you stay at a hotel when using their platform. The free stay value will be based on the average price of your 10 previous stays. This is a good system, and it feels great when you get that one free night. The only negative relates to the potential with the Yelp approach above. If you book a hotel through Hotels.com, the hotel has no maneuverability because the hotel was booked through a third party. For example, if you try to land a free night when there (in person can be highly effective), it’s not likely to work because the hotel was booked through a travel site.
You’re probably familiar with Kayak. If not, it’s the same concept at Skyscanner but with hotels, flights, car rentals, vacation deals, and more. You enter where you want to go and the dates for your vacation and Kayak scans hundreds of travel sites, so you don’t have to do it one by one. Your results are right there in front of you within seconds.
Like Kayak, this is another popular site. What’s neat about this site is that the home page shows you popular destinations from around the world and how many vacation deals are currently available for each of those destinations. You can click through the photos for those locations to see if they pique your interest. If you click on the vacation destination, you can also see the details for that deal.
Here’s another neat trick: Yelp. The next time you go out to eat, go hiking at a park, watch a movie at a theater, or do anything or go anywhere that can be reviewed, make sure you review it. This is how you get on other people’s radar. If you want an enormous boost, pick your five favorite cities, find someone who lives in each of those cities, and send a friend request to that person and to all their local friends. More than 90% of these people will accept your friend request (people like to have friends and to appear popular). Keep going for all five cities until you reach 5,000 friends, which is the maximum. Now, when you leave your reviews, you’re going to have thousands of eyes on them. Your public stats will show this, and you will likely become one of the most popular people on Yelp.
From there, take a screenshot of your stats (followers, compliments, views of your reviews over the past 90 days, views of your photos over the past 90 days) and contact the hotel you desire in the city you desire. Talk to the marketing manager and tell them about your following, then ask for a comped stay. Ask them to look up your Yelp profile while you’re on the phone with them. If they can’t do that, send them a screenshot. Most people will say yes, but occasionally, it will be a no. Don’t get frustrated. Remember that there will be more yes than no replies. Businesses want exposure. If it’s a larger property with several restaurants, tell them that you plan on reviewing all their restaurants during your stay—and be sure to follow through with that.
Even if you don’t get a fully comped stay, they might offer you half the nights free. And if they say they can’t comp you any nights, they still might offer you a free meal at their best restaurant. All you have to do is try.
Another way to land travel deals is to build your social media platforms as much as possible. It’s always best to do this organically. Don’t give in to the temptation of buying followers and friends. In order to speed up the organic process, send friend requests to everyone who has similar interests. Once again, most people will accept. For followers, do the same thing and let that person know you followed them while requesting a follow-back. It’s the same concept. From there, when you post something on social media, make sure most of your posts are about them, not you. This will get much better results than when you focus on yourself. You can then use this following the same way you would use the Yelp concept mentioned above. Let the property know that you will post about your stay on your social media platforms in exchange for a comped room. You will be surprised. Always remember: “Ask and you shall receive.”
Airbnb has an interesting reputation. People either love it or hate it. The people who love it are the people who use it correctly. The people who hate it are the people who don’t put much effort into what they’re booking, book an apartment where they will be sleeping on the couch and the host will be home, and then have a horror story to tell.
If you’re going to use Airbnb, don’t just search the town where you want to stay. Search the neighboring towns as well. Then make sure you find a property where the owner will either not be home or staying at another part of the property. From there, search the reviews and pay careful attention to privacy and cleanliness. If the property hits on all three and you can get it for less than $55 per night, that’s a huge win. You can pretty much create your own vacation deals when using Airbnb.
This is a lesser known site, but it’s a good one if you’re seeking an all-inclusive vacation in the Caribbean or Mexico. Enter your dates and the site will do the rest, showing you what all-inclusive vacation deals with airfare are available.
Now you have a lot more information on how to save money for a vacation, as well as vacation deals in general. If you apply the information above, you will never have to pay full price again. Sometimes, you might even be traveling for free.