Travelling has become so much more affordable these days.
Gone are the days of travel being a luxury that only the wealthy can afford, these days there are incredibly budget friendly options from all around the world. No matter how much you want to spend on travelling, you can always find something that fits into your budget.
However, finding great travel deals does take a little bit of research and attention to detail. If you put in a little bit of work to find the best deals you can save yourself hundreds of dollars for virtually the exact same booking.
After travelling the world for the last few years, and working as a travel agent for a while (omg such an eye opening experience to the travel industry), I’ve put together a few tips and tricks to help you save some money when you book your next adventure.
In this post:
Always shop around
To get the cheapest flights, put a little bit of research into the price patterns around the time that you’re travelling.
- What days of the week are flights are cheaper on the airline that you’re looking at?
- Are your dates flexible and can they be moved around if you find a great deal?
- Does the airline have a regular sale once a week when flights are cheaper?
Instead of booking the first flights and hot deals you see, shop around at a few different booking websites to see what else is around. Using comparison websites are often the best way to compare the prices and deals at lots of different booking websites at the same time.
For flights always check Skyscanner for the route, dates and options you’re looking at. Skyscanner literally scans all the booking websites on the internet and gives you the cheapest deals they can find on every airline available. You can also filter this to be a little bit more specific, for example to search for direct flights only or for specific airlines.
In addition to Skyscanner, we always like to check the individual airline websites for sales. Sometimes they might have dates slightly outside what you’re searching, so if you can make a couple of adjustments you can get yourself a significantly cheaper ticket.
When looking for hotel deals we always use HotelsCombined who do the same thing, compare all the booking websites for hotels. They’ll come back with the best deals they can find on all the major booking websites, so you don’t have to search them all one by one.
As well as HotelsCombined always make sure you search the individual booking website of anything you have a loyalty membership with. For example, we are Genius members on booking.com, so sometimes the price we can get there is even cheaper than the deals on HotelsCombined purely due to our member status.
Do your research
It might sound annoying, but putting a little bit of time into researching your destination before you start booking anything can go a long way in saving you money. It’s always a good idea to learn a little bit about –
- The different locations and types of accommodation available in your destination
- What’s included in the fares of different airlines you might be looking at
- The price difference between flying into different airports in the same city
For example, let’s say you’re searching for fares from Melbourne to the Gold Coast in Australia. A Qantas fare might be more expensive than a Jetstar fare at first glance, but they also include checked luggage, seat selection, and a meal and entertainment on flight. If these are things you’re planning to add to your ticket anyway, is the Jetstar fare still any cheaper?
Additionally, there are two airports in Melbourne and flight prices differ significantly between the two. Are flights cheaper at Avalon Airport for your dates?
Understanding the differences and what each option is actually offering you will help you make a more informed decision about what you’re booking, as well as save you money in the long run.
Avoid travel agents, especially large chains
A controversial opinion maybe, but one I learnt better than ever when I worked as a travel consultant. Look, there are absolutely some wonderful travel consultants out there, who are committed to finding their clients the best prices and creating the most amazing itineraries for them.
However, during my time as a travel consultant I regularly saw people ripping off their clients, adding extra commission to their bookings and inflating the prices to increase their own margins. It was eye opening and horrifying, and the reason I didn’t last very long at that job at all.
While it might sound like a good idea for someone else to plan and organise everything for you, just know that you will absolutely be paying a higher price than what you can find online.
Additionally, travel agents only offer you a small selection of hotels and activities that are available because these are the ones they earn commission from. These days there are SO MANY incredible places to stay, from villas and holiday houses to luxury retreats, boutique hostels and incredible resorts, there’s no reason to limit yourself to a small selection of over-priced options.
If you do choose to get a quote from a travel agent, it’s a good idea to compare it to what you can find yourself online. Is it in the same general ballpark or is it heavily inflated? Also don’t forget that most travel agents, including huge chains like Flight Centre and Student Flights do offer a price beat guarantee, which is something to take advantage of if you find a cheaper deal.
Sign up for deal emails
Being in the know is everything when it comes to saving money on travel, so signing up for mailing lists can be invaluable.
Without a doubt the best service I have ever come across for subscription deals is a website called I Know The Pilot. Whenever any airline has a great sale the team at I Know The Pilot will send you an email straight away and let you know about it. They’ll send you absolutely everything, so you might get a LOT of emails, but you’ll also never miss the cheapest prices if you’re on the market.
There are lots of different websites offering these kinds of deal email newsletters these days, this is just the best one we’ve found so far. Plus, it’s free to sign up, so they’re really just doing you a favour!
Book your travel using points
Whether it be credit card points or frequent flyer points, you can get some pretty insane deals if you learn how to points hack and maximise the amount of points you’re earning both through flying and everyday expenses.
We wrote a whole post on how we use frequent flyer points to travel for free, but a couple of the basic ideas are:
- Sign up for the airline frequent flyer program of any airline you fly with if it’s complimentary
- Check out credit cards that allow you to transfer your credit card points to frequent flyer points
- Look at credit cards that offer big sign up bonuses when you join and reach their minimum spend
Points hacking is a great way to get travel discounts if you do it the right way. In fact it’s allowed us to travel to Uluru, Bali and even the Cook Islands in the last couple of years!
Check what your insurance covers
If you can’t afford travel insurance, you can’t afford to travel.
That’s the bottom line, there’s no way around it. DO NOT RISK travelling without travel insurance.
It’s important to find an insurance policy that suits your needs. There’s no point being excited by free extras being thrown in if you’re never going to need them. Shop around to check out the different policies companies offer and what they include.
Comprehensive cover is often the safest way to go, and make sure at a minimum you’re covered for includes –
- Unlimited medical and hospital cover
- Lost or damaged luggage and lost or stolen items
- Delayed or cancelled travel plans
- Rental car vehicle excess
- Natural disasters
If you’re a frequent traveller it could also be a good idea to weigh up the price of an annual policy rather than a single trip policy. They can often give you a great discount if you’re planning a few trips in the same year.
Check out Southern Cross Travel Insurance if you’re looking at a round trip journey from Australia. They offer great prices and some of the most comprehensive cover we’ve come across.
Check out a package price
Packages can be a bit of a touchy subject because while there are some incredible package options out there, there are just as many that don’t offer you any savings at all.
Without a doubt, there are some phenomenal deal websites that offer heavily discounted travel experiences. Often these packages will include flights, accommodation, a tour, meals, transfers and more for a fraction of what you would pay if you put it all together yourself.
Websites like Trip A Deal, Luxury Escapes and Webjet Exclusives often have some amazing deals up for grabs. Like $899 all inclusive to China for 8 nights, there’s no way you can create yourself a better package than that!
However, there are just as many dodgy packages to be aware of, where there is no discount in the price at all and in fact, you could find a much better deal yourself. Flight Centre offer a lot of these packages.
Do yourself a favour and always do your own research to see how much it would cost if you organised the same trip. You’ll quickly be able to figure out which deals are good and which to skip.
No matter what part of your travels you’re planning it’s always a good idea to shop around as much as you can. It might take you a little longer than going to the travel agent and just getting a quote, but you will be able to save yourself heaps in the long run!