Finding the Top Travel Deals this Summer

How to Find the Best Travel Deals

After a very difficult year and my father’s passing, my mom decided that we needed some time away. So, this summer my mom, nieces, and I are going to finally take the family vacation that he always wanted to have with his grandkids. It may also be the last opportunity we have to do a longer trip since the girls are growing up and will be going off to college soon. Unfortunately, we only had a couple of weeks to figure out dates, flights, hotels, car rentals, and ticket reservations. Thankfully, I have years of experience in the travel industry and was able to secure some fantastic last-minute travel deals. This is one family vacation we are all looking forward to.

Sites with the Top Travel Deals

With only three weeks to plan, the first task was to pick the destination and figure out transportation. After some debate, we settled on flying to San Diego and spending the week driving back. With that in mind, I went online to compare rates and deals.

Full-Service Sites

I usually begin my search with travel sites like Travelocity, Expedia, or Kayak to estimate the total costs. They have the most competitive rates for hotels, flights, and car rentals. And, they offer package deals to local attractions to save you even more. Another benefit is that they check service providers and locations around the world. If you are looking to find last-minute deals, it’s the perfect option for one-stop shopping.

Google Flights

Rather than pigeonhole our trip with non-refundable tickets, I wanted to book directly through the airline. So, I bypassed the first offers and looked at individual flights. Google Flights gives you a great overview and compares rates across the greatest number of domestic and international airlines. And, you can browse their pop-up calendar to search for the lowest rates by day. I was quickly able to locate the cheapest flights and best routes.

Booking.com

For hotel reservations, I rely on booking.com since it checks all accommodation types. And, it doesn’t require a deposit for the reservation unless you choose a non-refundable rate. Furthermore, you can typically cancel within 24 hours of arrival if necessary. Since I have used them so much in the past, I have also received “genius” status from my reviews and get an additional 10% off. We were able to find dirt cheap deals on express hotels along our route home.

Airbnb

For the longest stay of the trip, we used Airbnb to look at vacation rentals. I find it to be the better option when traveling in bigger groups since you get more space without a huge price tag. We found an entire house for nearly half the price of two hotel rooms for the same stay. It’s also nice to have additional amenities like a full kitchen and laundry to reduce other costs for the trip. And since it’s in a prime location, we have easy access to all the places we want to see.

Hoteltonight.com

Although I haven’t used this site much in recent years, it’s a great option for last-minute reservations. You can find some unbelievable discounts if the conditions are right. However, there are no guarantees that you will get more than a standard room or discounts at a specific hotel. But if you’re looking for the best price, you can’t beat their rates.

When to Look for Travel Deals

Another thing to keep in mind is when to look for travel deals. During my time working in the hotel industry, several travel agents informed me that airlines evaluate their prices approximately 45-54 days before departure. If the flight is filling up, rates go up. However, if there are many open seats, you can find some huge discounts. When I find a potential flight, I set price alerts to notify me of rate changes to help me score the best deal.

You should also be aware of travel seasons and when certain locations hit their peak. If you are willing to wait until the low season, hotel and airline rates drastically drop.

I also try to avoid heavy travel days such as holidays and weekends. During the busiest travel times, rates can double or even triple. From my experience, the cheapest days to travel are usually Tuesdays and Wednesdays. However, you should also check their calendar travel dates for the lowest prices.

The Best Travel Deals

So, how much did all this save me? Let’s take a look…

Transportation

We decided to fly one way to San Diego, then rent a car to drive back to see the Grand Canyon and a few other attractions along the way. I booked tickets for about $200 per person when most other airlines are charging $500+. I also found a great deal on a weekly car rental through Budget that was $400 less than the initial offers. In total, this saved about $1,600.

Accommodations

For the longest portion of the trip, we booked a vacation rental through Airbnb for only $225 a night. Not only will it give us more space, but it was also much cheaper than comparable hotel rooms which started at $150 per room, per night. And, the cheap hotels didn’t offer proximity, laundry facilities, or free breakfast. Not counting all the extras, this alone saved $375.

The remainder of the hotel nights were either booked using points or will be chosen along the way. We are also planning to stay with family for a few nights as well which will also cut down on costs.

Tickets to Attractions

You can also find ways to save money when you buy tickets to local attractions. We will have free admission to the San Diego zoo since we already bought a national zoo pass. And, we can also use our National Park Pass from last year since it is still valid. Having these passes saved us an additional $300+ on tickets.

However, you can also get discounted tickets if you buy a package, book through an online retailer, or qualify with any memberships.

Tips to Find the Right Deal for You

On a final note, here are a few tips to help you find the best travel deals.

  • Know which things you can be flexible with and which you cannot. Flexibility with dates, desired location, and staying near public transportation can net you huge savings.
  • Book directly with the service provider. Not only is it simpler to cancel and change reservations, many offer price matching with third-party sites.
  • Check for discounts. It never hurts to ask and you may qualify for one of these discounts:
    • 10% discounts with car clubs and discount buying club memberships
    • senior citizen discounts
    • employee or contractor rates
    • friends and family discount

You don’t need to be a super sleuth to find the best travel deals. But knowing where to start will give you a headstart.

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7 Alternative Traveling Jobs for People Who Love to Travel

Traveling Jobs for People Who Love to Travel

Vacation is a great time to travel. But, sometimes it feels too short and is not enough to satisfy your wanderlust. If you have a serious taste for exploring new areas but not enough funds to do it regularly, there is a solution. Traveling jobs are a great way to support yourself when you have itchy feet. Not to mention, there are many different types of opportunities and options.

Whether you are needing to spice up your life or want to change your career altogether, here are some traveling jobs worth checking out for people who love to travel.

7 Traveling Jobs to Consider

1. Teacher/Nanny

So, you love kids, and you’re bilingual? Why not become an Au Pair or teacher in a different country? With a college degree and a TEFL certificate (Teaching English in a Foreign Language), you can teach English in a variety of locations. There are also TEFL course programs you can do abroad. They give you a taste of what to expect while also introducing you to a new country.

With technology making education easier to access online, you’ll have even more options.  In addition to online programs, there are also virtual teaching options. Furthermore, you can even take online classes yourself while completely immersing yourself in the country’s culture. Many universities now offer remote learning and online degrees. Moving abroad will open doors and new opportunities for traveling jobs.

2. Digital Nomad

This term was coined for those who work remotely. These types of job have become even more readily available in 2020 as companies restructure for their existing employees. If you have an online business, you can also build it up so you can work from anywhere in the world. Work as a digital nomad includes but is not limited to: freelance writing, translation, web design, social media management, or affiliate marketing.

3. Athletic Recruiter

Sports enthusiasts will likely find great enjoyment from a job as an athletic recruiter. Not only do you get to travel to schools across the country, but you also get to attend sporting events. The admission to events is free and also part of your responsibilities. Not a bad gig for sports fans, huh?

4. Auditor

If you are an accountant needing some excitement, becoming an auditor may be an excellent option for you. Auditors may not usually go to exotic locations, but they do travel across the country examining businesses. This traveling job provides more stability and consistency than other options while still giving you a taste of life on the road.

5. Tour Guide

Being a tour guide, particularly internationally, is an excellent way to travel for work. If relocating to a different country to work as a tour guide, you first need to know what certifications and visas are required. It is also a good idea to learn the language and familiarize yourself with the culture and customs. Even though you are catering to tourists, you want to have a good relationship within the local community.

6. Bartender

For those with an open schedule and some nightlife experience, bars and clubs worldwide are always seeking bartenders. This is especially true in touristy hot spots. Whether you want to go overseas or simply across the country, there are a variety of options as a bartender to travel to a new location for a while. Depending on your talents and the type of bar, bartenders can also make quite a bit of cash.

7. House/Pet Sitter

Another option you probably never considered was house sitting or pet sitting. This traveling job is precisely what it sounds like. Home owners post listings on house sitting websites to get matched with caretakers. In exchange, you get free accommodations and complete privacy in a locale of your choosing. These jobs can last a few weeks or turn into a long-term arrangement. It also provides the unique opportunity to experience your travel destination through the eyes of a local resident.

Considerations for Traveling Jobs

With the right skills, you can make traveling a part of your job requirements. Moving to a new location can be a very difficult, yet rewarding decision. However, it’s important to note that not all traveling jobs will pay well, and these professions still involve work and dedication. Depending on how much you want to make traveling a part of your career will depend on how much behind the scenes you will need to do.

Do you travel for a living? What kind of traveling jobs have you done or would like to do?

Also, if your doing good with the traveling job, don’t forget to save. Acorns is a perfect way to save money using spare change. Check them out.

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Ways around Cancellation Fees to Save You Money

Ways Around Cancellation Fees

 

When making reservations, it is important to pay attention to prepayment and cancellation policies. If you need to make last minute changes, you could find yourself stuck with large penalty fees. Fortunately for all of you, I have a few tips when dealing with customer service. My time in the hospitality industry has taught me a few tricks that can save you time and money. Here are a few suggestions to help you find ways around cancellation fees.

Building Rapport

The first mistake people make when calling customer service is unleashing their frustrations on unsuspecting agents. The tone you set at the beginning of the phone call is a huge determining factor in the outcome of the call. Speaking from my own experience, I did the bare minimum for customers who started calls by screaming at me or blaming me for their troubles. It immediately put me on the defensive and attempt to end the call as soon as possible.

However, I was much more empathetic when a customer calmly explained their situation. I took the time to not only understand the problem, but also to find creative solutions. Often times, I would go the extra mile for these callers. Sometimes this meant finding loopholes to waive cancellation fees, seeking permission from a supervisor, or offering other forms of compensation of equal value. The life of a customer service representative is full of stress and undeserving anger, so remember that patience and kindness go a long way. It may be cliché, but you really do catch more flies with honey than with vinegar.

Courtesy Holds without a Credit Card

Another little known tip when making reservations is the courtesy hold. Some hotels and airlines will allow you to hold a rate for 24 to 48 hours without a credit card. This gives you enough time to shop around or discuss it with your travel partners. Just remember that you will have to call back and confirm the reservation with a credit card or risk cancellation. If you are not quite ready to commit, be sure to ask if this option is available. This little known option can buy you extra time without a deposit.

Changing the Dates to Avoid Cancellation Fees

This last option falls into a gray area, so you need to be careful what you say on recorded calls. Most reservations allow cancellations within 24 hours of arrival. However, if you find yourself inside this cancellation period, there is a loophole. Instead of cancelling your reservation and paying the associated fees, simply change the dates. This puts you outside the cancellation period, allowing you to call back and cancel with no penalties.

Although you are not technically breaking any rules, it is frowned upon by many companies. Most customer service agents are aware of this tactic, but cannot offer it to you because calls are monitored. You should also be aware this does not apply to prepaid rates that require full prepayment.

Final Recap

When making reservations, you should always be aware of cancellation policies and required deposits. You don’t want to find yourself in a situation where you are paying unnecessary penalty fees. However, if you do find yourself within a cancellation period, you have options. Most times you can get what you want by politely asking for it. The most important thing is to be kind and courteous. People are more willing to give you what you want when you remain calm and rational.

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