How To Get Travel Discounts

by Updated January 29, 2009

If you're planning a vacation, it's very easy to forget about having any sort of budget, spend as much as you need to on your credit cards, then worry about the bill when you get home.  But why put yourself through all that stress and hassle?  The more travel discounts you can get, the less you need to spend on your holiday.  That either means that you can spend more while you're traveling, or at the very least, you can come home and not spend the rest of your life paying off the credit card bill.

With the rapid growth of the Internet, there's no doubt that it's the best place to look for travel discounts.  When you're making travel plans, there are two peak times to get great discounts - by booking a long way in advance, or by booking at the last minute.  If you're booking travel somewhere in-between you might still find good deals, but you lower your chances.  Of course, only book at the last minute if you can handle the worry of missing out. 

It's easy enough to do a search on the Internet for phrases like 'great travel deals', 'discount travel deals' or 'last minute travel'.  If you're looking for something specific, like cheap flights, then search for 'cheap flights'.  You'll find plenty of great sites, so spend some time looking around each one to see what they have to offer.  Some specialize in just hotels or flights; others offer discounts for a whole range of travel expenses.  It's a good idea to look at more than one site, because quite often they have different deals listed.

If you belong to something like the AAA, it's also worth talking to their travel department to see what they can offer.  They regularly have special deals that aren't available anywhere else, including guided tours for members and so on.  There are other member clubs around too that have travel departments or offers, so if you belong to one, talk to them. 

When you can only travel in a restricted time frame, start looking early.  That doesn't necessarily mean you need to book straight away, but if you have little flexibility you might just have to accept that you won't be able to score an absolutely rock bottom deal.  As well as looking at discount travel sites, check out the various air carrier sites too.  Sometimes they have timed specials that aren't available anywhere else.  You can sign up for email notification of special deals at many sites, so again, if you have some time up your sleeve, it might be worth waiting a few weeks to see if any better deals become available.

If you can be flexible in your travel dates, you have a much better chance of scoring a good deal.  I was recently looking for an airfare deal, and by shifting my travel one week earlier, I more than halved the already cheap fares.  Why?  Because I was one week further away from the school holiday season.  Always find out the peak time for visiting your destination, and avoid it if possible.  Off-season rates are almost always much cheaper, and even the shoulder season, either side of peak time, can be a lot more affordable. 

It doesn't matter where you want to travel, if you spend the time doing your research, you will be able to find some great travel discounts.  Start shopping around early, look at more than one site, and you'll soon know when you've found a great deal.  Then snap it up!  Always read all the fine print attached to any travel discounts, note any restrictions that apply, and once you're satisfied it's a great discount, grab it and enjoy your vacation.



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