The occasional vacationer might not notice it but the experienced miler knows: traveling is an art. From the booking to the packing to the actual travel, you want to do things the best way possible and get the most out of the experience. There are so many tips you will come across; from friends, from the net or from us. Starting today and for the next weeks, we will review the best travel tips out there. Today let’s start with the nine must-know booking tips every traveler should always keep in mind.
Plan a clear itinerary
This is not an actual booking tip, rather a pre-requisite. A planned itinerary takes all the unpleasant surprises out of your trip leaving you with just the fun. We can never stress enough the importance of mapping down the different steps of your journey. It is the best way to know where you are going, find the spots of interest, and book events before they sell out.
Learn to search
Your success as an airfare hunter depends on your ability to use the tools you have. You might choose to go with a specialized booking site or try your luck with a search engine. In both cases, master searching with keywords. “promo”, “coupon”, “deal”, “discount” are words you should include in your search.
When researching airfares and hotel prices, take advantage of your browser’s “incognito” window. Companies use tracking cookies to raise prices the more you check online for deals. On many blogs and travel forums, users will present this as the well-kept-secret booking tip. Truth or hoax, the debate is ongoing, but I say better be safe than sorry.
Know when to book
54 days in advance: that’s when you want to book that flight. Earlier in June, we talked about the best times to book airplane tickets. Yes, best times! Because it depends on many factors; read the article, it is quite insightful.
Ditch the herd
This booking tip sounds like a no-brainer but nothing like a reminder. If you want the absolute best deals, travel off/shoulder/low season. You will avoid the tourists and enjoy the local hospitality to its fullest.
I think this is an excellent booking tip for booking hotels and other deals abroad. Instead of buying on North American sites, go international and/or local. On my way to Mexico, I found better deals shopping on international hostel booking sites than I did on American sites. Maybe it was just my luck, maybe not. If you had a different experience, I’d love to hear about it.
Get a little help
You will find travel agencies and other professional services that will propose to help with your trip planning. I am one of those who like to help themselves. It is even easier to do so, with all the free mobile and web apps out there. Here are 15 great booking apps from the geeks at PC Mag.
Check price drop refund policies
A good practice is to book with sites and companies that have price-drop refund policies. Should you have booked too early, you will feel good knowing that you are eligible for a refund on the extra you paid. If you are not sure of the availability of such policies with your favorite booking companies, consider adding apps like Airfare Watchdog and Yapta to your travel tech bucket list.
Group booking tip: buy individually
There are far less group discounts out there than individual deals. Therefore, it is better to break group and family trips into separate purchases. However, this is a two-step booking tip. First, do a group search to make sure that the flight you want has enough seats for everyone. Next, do the same search for smaller groups until you find the best possible fares for everyone. You might not seat all together or even pay the same but the group will save. Up to you to split the cost evenly afterwards.
Here is a digest of the best booking tips you will find. Which did I miss? Be sure to check the blog again for tips on packing everything from clothes to cosmetics to fragile objects. We need your help with this. Tell us your best packing tips and tricks, you might feature in our next blog post.