First things first. We aren't budget travelers, and we aren't luxury travelers either. That's why we call ourselves multiple personality travelers. We focus more on the experience we're after, and then build our journey around that. If there's a great deal at a 5-star hotel, we're there. On the other hand, we're pretty big on camping and have stayed in plenty of rooms where our socks never come off.
Whether we're splashing out or aiming for a low cost getaway, we're always looking for a deal. Since we're always asked, we want to pass along a few of our "go to" strategies for nabbing a deal. This is only a starter ket. We'll get into other, more advanced, strategies in future posts.
1) Develop a relationship with Priceline (and have an occasional affair with Hotwire).
We've scored so many deals on Priceline I don't even know where to start. OK, here's an example. Washington DC is a notoriously expensive city for accommodations. When we were preparing to head to the CARE conference last May, all we could find were $200+/night hotels. No way.
We jumped on Priceline and got a great hotel for $70.00 a night. We then whipped out the Entertainment Book (yep, that's right) and applied a coupon for $10 off each night. This brought our 4-star DC hotel down to $60.00 a night.
Keep in mind, it works best to have a strategy for maximizing success on Priceline. We can get into that in a future post, but shoot off an e-mail if you've got a journey in mind and are considering Priceline. We're experts.
***When Priceline doesn't deliver, we will have an affair with Hotwire (and it doesn't even feel wrong).
2) Check out VRBO for longer term and/or budget options.
Vacation rentals are an awesome option for long - and even short - stays. A couple years ago, after we had quit our jobs and before we started a business (yikes!), we traveled on a backpacker's budget. We wouldn't even think about getting in a taxi back then; that was a luxury at the time. Ah, memories.
Anyhow, we wanted to spend a couple months in Buenos Aires, and we found a rental for just a few hundred dollars a month on - that's right - VRBO.
3) Sign up for e-deals.
Swallow your pride. Get a "junk" e-mail address and sign up for e-deals from travel companies that interest you. Little e-gifts will begin to show up right in your inbox and can make a big difference in what you pay. Remember when we were in Denver on a budget and with a cane? We jumped on an e-deal from Alamo to secure a car rental for $15 a day. Recently, in Florida, we applied a $50 Alamo e-coupon that made our week long rental about $50.
We hate junk mail, but signing up for e-deals is worth it if you're a deal-obsessed traveler. Also, this strategy allows you to target companies that fit your travel mindset - be it budget or luxury.
4) Visit Travelzoo. Often.
The folks at Travelzoo have blown our minds with deals a few times. Their website presents a wide-range of offers for an array of locations. We went up to Whistler (notoriously WAY expensive) for some skiing last year because Travelzoo pointed us to a flash sale that the Fairmont Hotel was having. We got a killer room for only $79 a night - during high season.
One of our best finds ever. I remember that hot tub at the base of the slopes like it was yesterday.
5) Keep an eye on what your fellow travel bloggers are uncovering.
Other travel fanatics are always pointing us in the direction of incredible offers. We're big fans of what Arthur Frommer has to say, so we regularly visit his blog. For example, If you're into cruises or Las Vegas, he regularly posts on value options on both. Plus, he's a "for the people" kind of guy who does not shy away from sharing his consumer-centric opinions on a variety of travel related topics.
Start an RSS feed devoted to bloggers and other writers that present deals that you might not hear about anywhere else.
That's it for now. Again, the above are just basic ideas to get you started. There are many, many other places and ways to scout out deals. Watch for more tips down the road.
*NOTE: Unfortunately, none of the above vendors paid to have us shill for them.
Any questions about these deal-finding strategies? Where do you search for travel deals? Leave a comment and let us know.