By now, you’ve probably heard of the discount travel “old timers” like Expedia, Orbitz, Kayak and Priceline. But over the past few years, new companies have popped up promising new ways to save you time, headaches and cash, whether you’re booking airline tickets, hotels, car rentals or tours...
1. A Game-Changing Way to Search for Flights. Even though ﬁnding a cheap airline fare is relatively simple using the established ﬂight aggregators like Orbitz.com and Kayak.com, ﬁnding which speciﬁc ﬂight is best for you can still be a challenge. Sometimes the cheapest ﬂight has a menacing layover in Dallas/Fort Worth. And sometimes when you’re searching for a ﬂight, hundreds of results appear on page after page, which makes ﬁnding the ideal ﬂight a pain.
To make travelers’ lives easier, Hipmunk.com has come on the scene, promising to disrupt the old hands of the ﬂight aggregation game and make ﬂight search more efﬁcient. Rather than just list out prices, one after another, Hipmunk helps you visualize exactly what you’re buying by creating colorful horizontal bars that show how long each ﬂight is, how long the layover will be, and of course the price. Another unique feature to the site is the ability to sort by “agony,” a combination of price, duration and number of stops: Hipmunk’s solution for ﬂyers interested in the most seamless ﬂight experience for the money.
2. How to Get a Partial Refund if a Ticket Price Drops After You’ve Booked. If you’ve bought a plane ticket, then seen the price of that same ticket fall, you know the wrenching feeling in your gut of overpaying. No one likes shelling out too much. But actually, if that happens, airlines will often refund the price difference if you ask nicely. The problem is that to claim that difference, you need to diligently keep an eye on the ticket price ﬂuctuations up until takeoff.
That’s where Yapta.com and Farecompare.com come in. These websites help you get your partial refund by tracking the price of your speciﬁc ﬂight, then sending you an e-mail if the price falls. Then, with your new ﬂight info in hand, you can call up the airline and claim your credit. It sounds simple because it is. If you’re not tracking your ﬂight up until take off, there’s a good chance you’ll pay more than you have to.
3. Get Travel Discounts By Shopping for “Private Deals.” You’ve undoubtedly salivated after hearing of a friend’s shockingly low-priced airline ticket or hotel deal (On a recent trip to Mexico, I found myself envying a friend’s $200 round trip fare from San Francisco to Mexico City).
The Internet is full of travel deals. The problem is hunting them down. You can try staying up till the wee hours of the morning on Monday and Tuesday night, when airlines often start sales. Or you can explore the world of “private deals.” In recent years, invitation-only websites like JetSetter.com and SniqueAway.com have started to offer “ﬂash sales”—sometimes 20% to 60% off—on hotel packages for invited travelers.
Getting an invite to these “private-deal” websites can be tricky, so ask around if any of your friends are already “in.” Alternatively, you can Google the site’s name plus the word “invite” and see if a registration page pops up. But even if you can’t make your way onto one of these elite lists, you still have options. LivingSocial.com and TripAlertz.com offer great last-minute travel e-mail deals to registered members. And like Groupon.com, the more people who sign up, the lower the price of the deal.
4. Find Promotion Codes to Save Money. Ever booked a ﬂight or a hotel room online and as you were checking out seen that little box to enter a promo code? I know I have, and I also know I never actually had a code to plug in until I found PromotionalCodes.com. If you have a little patience and are ﬂexible with your travel plans, this site allows you to search for promo codes for ﬂights, hotels and car rentals. Just ﬁnd an appealing deal, then take it to the corresponding site and enjoy the savings. Sometime codes aren’t up to date, however, so be sure to check that the codes are valid before you start to bask in all the money you think you’re about to save.
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