Let’s face it, life can get downright stressful and when we find we’re yelling at just about everyone, we know it’s time. For a trip that is. Oh, how we love getting away from it all and letting our bodies and minds unwind and reset. But then, of course, there’s the stress of planning that getaway. Can you say Ugh?
Well, good news. These days, booking a trip is not such a tricky business—if you’ve got the right tools at your disposal. In fact, it turns out that you can find the ideal destination for the best price without any sweat at all. So what’s the secret to finding the best, affordable spots to visit? We checked in with David Solomito of leading travel search engine KAYAK for an insider’s tips and tricks for scoring the best travel deals. And here they are.
THE TOP 5 BUDGET TRAVEL TRICKS FOR SCORING THE BEST DEALS
1. Plan Ahead…
Surprise, surprise. We’re not the only ones who put off travel planning for way too long. We’ve got plenty of company. KAYAK search data from 2016 revealed that Canadians are global leaders in procrastination when it comes to booking travel.
Booking a spur of the moment escape may be exciting, but it’s not smart. The fact is, planning in advance will save you money and time in the long run.
How soon should you book to score the best deal? It depends where you’re headed. Canadians traveling to Europe, Asia and Central America will find the lowest fares when they book 2-3 months out and 1-2 months in advance when traveling to the South Pacific. Planning a weekend of music in Nashville or a ski day in Calgary? For trips within North America, you’ll find the best deals closer to your travel date—2-4 weeks out.
Insider Tip: If you set up price alerts, you’ll receive instant updates on the best times to travel to your desired destination.
2. …But Be Flexible
Waiting for just the right moment to plan that Instagram-worthy vacation to trending city Reykjavik? The best way to secure the best deal is to use your flexibility to your advantage. It makes sense: a wider window of time for travel will give you access to a wider range of options.
Insider Tip: Flight search tools like a +/- 3 day flex search will show you the price difference of traveling three days earlier or later than your targeted departure dates.
3. Know What’s Hot and What’s Not
It’s important to always keep your finger on the pulse of travel trends because they’re always changing. We’re always surprised (and often delighted) to discover where other Canadians are traveling and why.
So where are the hot spots right now? According to travel search data from KAYAK, Osaka, Istanbul and Kahului topped the charts for Canadian travel last year, while this year’s data showed Canadians flocking to Havana, Reykjavik and Auckland.
Insider Tip: Get the inside scoop on the best hotels, where to splurge and what’s nearby by reading user-verified reviews from people who have lived the experience.
4. Know Your Hacks
Airline travel sites will often provide you with a round trip price, but keep in mind that sometimes booking two one-way flights can end up costing you less. For example, Kayak pairs one-way flights into “Hacker Fares”.
Insider Tip: Know you want to unleash your inner wanderlust but aren’t sure where to do it? The Explore tool is your best friend: enter your budget, travel time (exact dates, month or season) and length of trip and this tool will tell all the places you can go.
5. Stay On Top of it
Throughout the trip planning process, make sure you keep all your travel info organized in one place. Doing so will help you compare prices and track dates and will keep you focused on finding the best spot at the lowest price. Plus, you’ll eliminate stress you don’t need on your vacay.
If you’re planning a long-haul getaway to a trending destination like Auckland or Bogota, having all your confirmation numbers, flight connections and hotel addresses at your fingertips will make moving through check-in and customs a seamless experience, one you can actually enjoy.
Insider Tip: Tools like KAYAK Trips (free itinerary management) make it easy to share information with your travel companions before takeoff.
This post was generously sponsored by KAYAK but as usual, all opinions are ours.