Saturday, December 28, 2013

Booking Budget Travel Online

For some, traveling may be frequent and easy because of good salaries and free time. For others, traveling is all about just waiting for some vacation time and nickel and diming yourself until the day arrives to book everything and head off.

Luckily, for those of us who need to/like to budget (nothing against those lucky people who don't need to/like to, I'm not-so-secretly jealous), the Internet makes it so easy and convenient to find good deals so that traveling can be much more affordable. Today, I thought that it might be helpful, to share my savings advice and what sites and tactics I use to get better deals. Why spend more if you don't have to, right?
(google search)

xo Jessica

The Internet is a wonderful thing, I can't even begin to imagine how people planned and paid for their vacations before it. Being able to book a hotel, flight, or ground transportation by filling in a few lines and pressing a button is making it so much easier for anyone to plan and pay for their next vacation/adventure.


I've used all of the budget sites for booking my trips, priceline, hotwire, groupon, flight consolidators, etc. That being said, here are some of the things I learned along the way.

1. Priceline-If you are planning on using a site like priceline to take advantage of their express deals or bidding options, you really need to research. I cannot stress this point enough, researching all of the hotels in the category, what people have won, and what your options are will make this a little bit less stressful. I am not one for just booking any random hotel, so much thought and comparing goes into every choice I make but sometimes you just have to take a leap of faith and hope for the best. That's where these sites come in. Priceline not only offers express deals (which they claim can get you around 25-40% off of your hotel) but they also offer bidding.

My one success, which I'm very proud of, was the Westin LAX that I booked via priceline bidding for around $80/night on a prime December weekend right before all of the holiday traveling. 


2. Hotewire- Hotwire on the other hand, offers "hot deals" which are the same concept as the priceline express deals. You choose your city, then the area, star rating, and available price and then it shows you some of the amenities and the minimum rating for the hotel that it has available. The only fault in this, is that it makes it very hard to guess which hotel you are going to get because normally they will put "fitness center, business center, restaurant, and Internet" as the amenities which are the same amenities offered by every single hotel possible. The best way that I have found at trying to guess is using This site offers comprehensive lists of all of the hotels that people have won/are available in any given category. 

Using this site I managed to get a great deal on a hotel for New York City but I unfortunately guessed wrong (showing that no matter how much research you do sometimes it is what it is). Having done a lot of research I was pretty happy with all of the hotels in the 3.5-4 star category for Times Square so I decided that it wouldn't be so bad to save over $50/night on a hotel by going with their "hot rate". According to my research, I should have been getting the Room Mate Grace hotel in Times Square, a small but hip/edgy boutique hotel in a great location with great reviews. However, this was not the case and upon booking I got a "congratulations, you have booked the Manhattan Times Square hotel". Now, this hotel has been recently renovated and the most recent set of reviews have been very positive and the location is fantastic, but the mixed reviews from the past have me worried. Overall, I am content with this purchase and just really excited to see what happens!


3. Groupon- Groupon is awesome for pretty much anything. Although it is usually not the first site that people think of when looking to book a vacation, it is one that they should definitely keep in mind. Groupon offers great deals on highly rated hotels, vacation packages (think Paris for 1 week with airfare, hotel, and more for $1,000), tours, etc as well as great discounts on popular restaurants and tickets for shows or museum entrance fees. When on their site just click on the getaways tab and check out everything they have to offer based on where you want to go.

In addition to my two night booking on hotwire for New York City, I also used a groupon for one night (since that was the only availability they had for my dates). I booked the Hotel Mela, a 4-star boutique hotel in the heart of Times Square for $129/night for a Deluxe Queen Room with a chance for an upgrade. 


4. Flight Consolidators/Comparison Sites- For this category, all I can really help with are flights to and from Brazil and the USA. BACC Travel, offers discounted fares in between Brazil and the US while comparing the prices of different airlines and dates in a calendar format. When checking out this site for airfare, I would still compare prices with and to make sure that you really are getting the best deal.

***Also in this category, is STA. STA is a travel site where you can book anything and everything for a discounted rate if you are a student with a valid student ID and ISIC card (which you can also buy through them inexpensively to receive not only deals on their site but at many attractions worldwide). STA is a great site to look at if you are a student because they do offer cheaper fares for flights, trains, etc and even if you don't book through them, the ISIC card is a great way for students to get discounts anywhere on a wide variety of things.

In my experience, using these sites, I usually find the best deals using and I really like that they have a calendar to help you decide when the best time is to buy.

(google search)

5. Tripadvisor- Through tripadvisor you are able to look at reviews of hotels and choose which site to book them based on which is offering the best deals for your given travel dates. I am a very loyal tripadvisor member and rarely check other sites for reviews on hotels, restaurants, attractions, etc. Like I said before, I research a lot before my trip so that I know what to expect and I think that tripadvisor is the best site out there for just that.

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