These days, most vacations are booked online. But of course, here too, there are many tips and tricks on how to avoid mishaps and save some money. We have put together the top 10 savings tips for booking vacations online, so your next holiday is not over budget.
If you’re not bound to a particular timeframe or a certain airline, it is worthwhile researching flights using comparison websites. These evaluate the connections and prices of almost all airlines and facilitate finding the cheapest and best flight for you. Some examples of these are Google Flights, ITA Matrix or Skyscanner.
If you’re not sure where to head for your next holiday, get some inspiration with the help of these tools. For example, if you enter only the departure airport on Google Flight, the search results will show several different and affordable destinations. By specifying criterias such as „Places“ and „Interests,“ you can filter search results and finetune them perfectly to your needs.
For spontaneous travelers, airlines occasionally offer special discounts. For example, at Lufthansa Surprise you can get a flight to a surprise destination at a bargain price.
Even if you are tied to the holiday season when planning your vacation, there are simple tricks to finding cheap flights. For instance, if you live in Bavaria, you could fly from neighboring federal states such as Saxony, as the holiday season ends long before that of Bavaria. It’s definitely worth having a look over the border. The same applies to travelers near the border. The French website swiss.com/fr, for example, has different offers than its German counterpart swiss.com/de.
Although you can quickly and easily find suitable airlines and flights via comparison websites, you should still book the actual flight directly on the airline’s website. From time to time you can find promotions and special offers that are not shown on comparison websites.
Even if the prices on comparison websites appear cheaper at first glance, in the end you tend to pay a little more. This is because usually in addition to the cheapest ticket price, you have to pay fees for certain types of payment, luggage or other amenities. Do not be fooled – no matter how cheap the prices seem at first!
Another tip is the sharing of luggage costs. Let’s be honest – don’t we all pack way too much all the time? You can easily avoid this problem by, for example, sharing a large suitcase with a fellow traveler. Not only do you avoid overpacking, you also save paying double for luggage.
If you have acquired a bargain flight without luggage and want to book an additional suitcase, you should do this online in advance. For most airlines this is much cheaper than having to pay at the airport.
It is not uncommon for a flight to be delayed or even canceled altogether. Therefore, it is all the more important to know that you, as a passenger, are entitled to compensation under the EU passenger rights regulation 261/2004. However, this only applies if it isn’t a case of force majeure or exceptional circumstances.
Compensation depends on the route and is set at around 250 – 600 € for up to 1,500 km. For a distance over 3,500 km the compensation is 600 €. The Great Circle Mapper makes it easy to calculate the distance of a flight. Should there be problems with the airline, it is suggested to enlist specialists such as AirHelp, Fairplane or Flightright. These regulate the complete communication with the airline, however they also retain about 30 percent of the compensation if successful.
If you have decided on a hotel of a big chain, the same applies as with the airlines: You can only benefit from customer loyalty programs, such as discounts or free upgrades, when booking directly on their website.
Many chains like Accor, Best Western, Hilton, IHG Marriott & Co. offer a Best Price Guarantee. Thus, if you find the same room at a cheaper price on any travel portal, the hotel will tell you before booking and reduce the price. When booking through their website you can also benefit from early booking discounts at hotels.
Even if booking directly on a hotel website is generally best, it is still worthwhile looking for discounts on booking portals. For example, Hotels.com offers up to 50 percent off in flash sales every week. There are also booking portals such as Travelzoo, LuxuryLink or SecretEscapes, which specialize in high-end hotels and regularly offer special offers.
Furthermore, booking portals like Booking.com also participate in cashback promotions. Travelers are retroactively refunded a few percent of their hotel booking. In contrast, Shoop.de offers a whole range of discount offers.
Loyalty is rewarded – this applies both to airlines and hotels. With matching offers from some hotels, a status can be transferred to other hotels. For example, Best Western applies the elite status from any other hotel loyalty program.
Such a status match is also available for airlines. A summary is available on travel-dealz.de.
Private accommodation can be a cheaper alternative to hotels. These are of particular interest in places where there are no hotels at all. But even at popular tourist destinations, you can find private accommodations. Of course, all depends on what type of accommodation you prefer, yet it is always worthwhile comparing prices. In addition to Airbnb, there are also lesser-known services such as 9flats, couchsurfing or Wimdu.
If you need a rental car during your vacation, you should look out for discounts. Many car rental companies offer a discount to customers who have flown with certain airlines or have booked particular hotels. There are also local agencies that deal with rentals on behalf of larger providers. In such cases a price negotiation by e-mail or phone is recommended, as these enterprises often have a greater margin and can beat the online prices of other car rental companies.
A more recent and cheaper alternative to rental cars is car sharing. German users, for example, can use DriveNow also in Brussels, Copenhagen, London, Milan, Stockholm and Vienna. Car2Go members can use the European service also in Amsterdam, Florence, Madrid, Milan, Rome, Turin and Vienna. Carsharing services are available worldwide in the USA, Canada and China. You can for example rent private vehicles through Turo in the US and Canada.
As you can see, there are plenty of tips and tricks on how to save money even before you start your travels. Of course, you need a lot of time and patience, but let’s be honest – rather save some money with time-consuming research and then indulge yourself during your holiday.