Now that summer is here, it’s time to take a break and see a new part of the world. All the holidays are over until Labor Day, so you have some time to spend planning your next vacation (but not too much time!). Finding great travel deals has gotten a lot harder since travel agents went away, but we’re here to act as your virtual agent for the day, so sit back, hit print and read this by the pool while you daydream. Here are three ideas to help you plan your next getaway:
Travel Deal Sites
Sites like Hotels.com, are a great place to start for last minute deals and suggestions. If you can afford to be a little spontaneous, you can find a great deal on a vacation that you may never have considered otherwise. These sites also have coupons and advanced searches that let you pick your budget or search for hotels near a specific landmark. Look for sites that reward you with free nights so you can go anywhere you want later in the year. Auction sites like Skyauction.com sometimes have great deals too.
Social media seems to have taken over the travel agent’s traditional role as advisor for insider information. While sites like tripadvisor.com are great places to find detailed reviews, you can often get tips from your friends and social media connections just as easily (and perhaps slightly more personalized). Post or tweet a question and you may be flooded with advice from the people who know you best. Ask around travel forums to find out which is the noisy side of a hotel, if a certain wing is being remodeled, and how the service is. Don’t believe everything you read, because unscrupulous hotels have been known to pay to have someone write bad reviews of their rivals. When reading reviews look for evidence (“rooms are small”) rather than opinion (“worst trip ever!”) because the more detailed reviews tend to be the most reliable.
Look into the rewards program for each of your credit cards. You may have already earned travel points and never knew it. The airlines don’t give away as many free tickets as they used to with these programs, but hotels seem to have more deals than ever. Speaking of hotel chains, with all the excitement of summer you may have forgotten that you’ve signed up for rewards programs at a hundred different chains. Go over your paperwork or call the 800 number for the hotels you remember and find out. Some can even grant you points retroactively.
Summer will be over before you know it so plan your trip before it’s too late!