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With the holidays fast approaching and kids ages 5 and up getting vaccinated, more and more Americans are planning the holidays. But it’s hard to find a deal.
Planning a trip can be costly with flights, accommodations, tours, excursions, dining, and more.
Still, there are deals to be had if you know where to look. Start by subscribing to emails from travel partners and following them on social media, so you’re among the first to learn about flash sales and special savings opportunities. Flexibility in scheduling travel and off-peak travel are easy ways to save.
Looking for a few more ways to cut your travel budget? Here are five tips you don’t want to miss.
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1. Be flexible with airport options
If you always fly from an airport in a major city closest to your home, you may want to explore other options. This airport may have the most flights, most carriers, and the widest range of departure times, but the fares may not be the best out there.
Although it’s always easy to do what you know, pushing yourself to fly from a different airport can save you hundreds.
For example, if you’re flying from Philadelphia to Fort Lauderdale, use Google Flights to search for other airport options like nearby Trenton Airport for Philadelphia. Sure, you may not have many airlines or flight options, but prices can be much lower. The savings can be quite significant, especially during peak travel times, or if you are traveling with others.
Additionally, consider an airport that is a few hours’ drive from your destination. In the example above, you might want to swap Palm Beach International Airport for Fort Lauderdale Airport. This may add a little commute time but can result in significant savings.
If you’re traveling with multiple people, you may find that the attractive flight deal you want disappears when you add any additional travelers to your itinerary.
“This happens because airline tickets are sold in different categories called ‘buckets,’ which are essentially sets of prices that are priced similarly based on certain rules and restrictions,” says Willis Orlando, senior product operations specialist at Scott cheap flights.
Instead of getting one fixed price, airlines offer different fares for the exact same product, trying to sell as many tickets as possible to as many people as possible and at the highest possible price, Orlando says.
“Airlines do this to maximize the amount of revenue they can get per flight,” he continues.
“When the price jumps, reduce the number of passengers and buy one ticket at the lowest price, while buying any additional tickets at the higher price for the next fare group,” Orlando says.
If you find you can get better prices by purchasing your tickets separately, buy one at a time and then contact the airline afterward to link your itineraries, he says.
3. Consider grouping hotels and flights
Easy to use sites like Expedia or Kayak to book flights on one platform, combining both flights and rooms. But take the time to do your research to make sure the prices are really better than if you had booked the flight on your own.
“Vacation packages can save you $500 or more,” says Steve Oliverez, CEO of InsanelyCheapFlights.com. “If you’re planning to stay in a hotel during your trip, always check to see if an all-inclusive deal is cheaper. Brands are usually more willing to offer discounts when they’re less transparent, as in the package.”
And if you can be a little spontaneous, you can get a better deal. “Unlike flights, package deals are often discounted when booking last minute,” says Oliverez.
In addition to the booking sites you may be familiar with, many airlines such as American, Delta, and JetBlue offer vacation packages as well. For example, you can save money on vacation with JetBlue Vacations by using promo codes to save up to $500 on packages to Aruba, Cancun, Montego Bay and Punta Cana. JetBlue Vacations is offering this deal to promote its insider experience, which features local concierge services included at no additional charge.
Four different offers are available, each with an associated promotional code:
- Get $50 with promo code INSIDER50
- Get $100 off when you spend $2000 with the promo code INSIDER100
- Get $250 off when you spend $4,000 with promo code INSIDER250
- Get $500 off when you spend $7,000 with the promo code INSIDER500
This JetBlue Vacations promo code offer is good until December 31, 2021 for travel through March 2022.
4. Consider different housing options
You can access the best resorts through timeshare marketplaces and get direct rates from the owner from platforms like Red Wake.
According to RedWeek, here are some current price comparisons that will save a traveler $500 or more on a trip:
- Aruba Surf Club by Marriott, 7 nights for just $1,650 compared to $2,152 elsewhere ($502 savings)
- Marriott’s Maui Ocean Club 7-night January stay for just $3,500 compared to $4,183 elsewhere (savings of $683)
- Newport Coast Marriott Villas, 5 nights in November for just $995 compared to $1,632 elsewhere (save $637)
RedWeek is a timeshare platform that allows any traveler to book a ride from a timeshare owner that they are not using. Don’t worry, you’re not joining a timeshare — you’re just booking your vacation, similar to how a homeowner might rent a pillow on Airbnb, but in the case of RedWeek, you’re actually staying at a hotel or resort. Timeshares usually boast more space, kitchen and laundry facilities, and other perks like free parking and on-premise shopping.
5. Sign up for a travel credit card with a big welcome bonus
More and more card issuers are introducing Generous welcome bonuses that can be spent on travel purchases.
Chase offers elevated welcome rewards on Chase co-branded airline credit cards: New cardholders who sign up for a British Airways Visa Signature®, Iberia Visa Signature® or Aer Lingus Visa Signature® card can earn 100,000 Avios points after spending $5,000 on purchases within the first 3 months of account opening. Avios points can be transferred to American Airlines among other carriers and redeemed for domestic travel.
If you are a frequent traveler in Southwest, all three Southwest consumer credit cards (Southwest Rapid Rewards® Plus Credit Card, Southwest Rapid Rewards® Premier Credit Card and Southwest Rapid Rewards® Priority Credit) offer a good welcome bonus.
You can earn an additional 40,000 points after you spend $1,000 on purchases in the first 3 months of opening your account.
Southwest points are worth about 1.4 cents, which means that 40,000 reward points alone are worth approximately $560 toward Southwest flights.
If you’re more interested in a generic travel card, the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card currently offers a welcome bonus of 60,000 points if you spend $4,000 on purchases within three months of account opening, which is $750 if you spend it on travel booked through the portal. Chase Ultimate Rewards®.
It may take a little work to double your points to take advantage of the free travel, but it is well worth the effort. Check out our guides on using the Amex Travel Portal, the Chase Ultimate Rewards® travel portal and how to make the most of your Avios points for some ideas on how to get started.
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Editorial note: The opinions, analyses, reviews or recommendations in this article are those of the editorial board alone, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any third party.