Alamo Rent A Car has recently launched the Alamo Insiders program, which offers its members various perks including exclusive, member-only deals, quick and simple reservations, and frequent traveler miles with each rental. To help raise awareness for this new program, Alamo teamed up with SocialMoms on an exciting blogging contest. The first 100 bloggers who submit a quality post sharing top 10 tips for getting away with great family travel deals will each win a $25 Amazon gift card!
Here are my top ten tips:
1. Plan well ahead.
This is a golden principle that works well for almost everything, but it's particularly important when it comes to trip planning. You need to leave ample time for researching and comparison shopping in order to get the best deals. Your planning usually involves decisions on a variety of elements, such as travel dates, trip duration, destination, itinerary, and budget.
2. Do research based on your budget.
The first step to keep control of your travel costs is to set a budget that you are comfortable with. Once you have the rough boundaries for spending, you can narrow down your research to offers and packages within the appropriate price ranges. For instance, to save money, you may want to limit your air fare search to economy class or lodging search to 1-2 star hotels.
3. Be flexible.
The more flexible your travel plan is, the more likely you're going to get a good deal. Try your best to avoid peak seasons, when air fare and hotel rates are considerably higher. When checking prices, be sure to experiment with different dates and time selections to find the best combination. If time is not a primary concern for you, you may consider non-direct flights, which are likely to cost less. For hotels, be flexible about amenities that you might not have a chance to use, such as pools, gym, and business center.
4. Use free price prediction services.
Advanced booking may or may not save your money. To get a better idea of how prices fluctuate over time, you may use free search engines like Bing.com, which not only shows you travel-related price changes in the past but also makes scientific predictions about price trends in the near future. It may advise you about the best time to make a purchase. Very cool, isn't it?
5. Comparison shop via the Internet.
There are numerous travel comparison shopping sites that you can use to search for the best deals. Commonly used ones include: Orbitz, Traveloity, and Expedia. Kayak is a relatively new website which provides searches across hundreds of travel sites at once so that you can have all the search results in one place and sort them whichever way you like.
6. Double check on the provider's site.
Think you've got the best deals after the comparison shopping searches? Not necessarily! To make sure you're getting the lowest prices, go to the official site of the airline or hotel showing the lowest prices on your search results and double check. Sometimes you will be amazed at what you can find out. You may be charged a service fee (around $5) if you book through some of the sites listed in Tip 5. But you may as well book directly through the provider at exactly the same price minus the service fee! So it's always a good idea to double check.
7. Join loyalty/rewards programs.
Most of us are aware that airlines reward frequent flyers with mileage, which, once accumulated to a certain level, can be redeemed for free perks like upgrades, tickets, magazines, merchandise, etc. In recent years, a lot of hotel chains and car rental companies have also started to offer their own loyalty programs that reward you for using their services. Alamo Insider Program is probably the most recent example. It's not necessary to sign up for every frequent user program that exists. But it's wise to sign up for the ones that are relevant to your upcoming trip. Memberships are completely free. Why not take advantage of the extras that may come with what you're about to do anyway?
8. Sign up for free deal alerts.
Most travel service providers offer newsletters that keep you up to date with exclusive discounts and time-sensitive offers. If you happen to meet the specific requirements for an offer, you can save big, usually a lot more than what you can normally get from comparison shopping. Don't forget to read the fine prints and make sure the offer is right for you.
9. Bid for last-minute deals.
Life is full of surprises. We can't really plan everything well ahead. But you can still save by getting some last-minute bargains through Priceline or Hotwire. The downside is that what you may get depends a lot on luck and bidding strategy and that you may not know the exact provider of the service before you pay. But if you're pressed by time and intimidated by costs, it doesn't hurt to try your luck at travel deal auctions.
10. Search for provider-specific coupons and partner deals.
Once you have your pick for the travel service providers, you can always do a targeted search on coupons and deals over the Internet. This may bring up additional savings that you cannot find otherwise. All in all, the key to getting the best deals is search and research :)
Do you travel a lot? Have you got any special tips and tricks that you care to share? Feel free to comment below or write your own post and link up at SocialMoms.
Disclosure: I wrote this blog post while participating in the SocialMoms and Alamo blogging program, for a gift card worth $25. For more information on how you can participate, click here.