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Thanks to the wide selection of travel sites on the internet, everyone who browses the web has a virtual travel agency right at their fingertips. Orbitz, Hotwire, Travelocity and Expedia are just a few of the travel sites that have revolutionized the travel industry by allowing customers to have access to the best deals in flights, accommodations, rental cars and travel packages. In today’s competitive travel industry, here are some ways you can leverage your power as a consumer to get the best deals available from the vast array of online travel sites.
1. Shop around
Don’t just check one or two sites — make sure to check them all. Fortunately, most travel sites offer a handy comparison shopping button, so you can access multiple sites with just one click. Likewise, to find the cheapest fares on a travel site, simply click on a variety of dates, then compare the prices.
2. Decide what you want first
Before comparing fares, decide where you’re going and how long you’ll be staying in each city. Also, choose hotels that are in your destination city and close to attractions you’ll want to see. By prioritizing your needs, you can keep yourself focused; otherwise, it’s easy to get overwhelmed by so many choices.
3. Consider bundling
Many travel sites offer a substantial savings if you bundle your flight/hotel or flight/hotel/rental car services. Likewise, many cruise ship companies offer discounted flight/cruise packages as well.
4. Don’t forget hidden fees
Airlines and cruise ships are notorious for charging port fees, extra taxes and other additional charges. Hidden fees can cause sticker shock, so be aware of the final price tag before you make a purchase.
5. Be flexible
Flexibility can be the key to saving money. Airlines — as well as some hotels — charge more for Friday through Sunday travel days, as well as for certain times of the year, so if you can modify your plans by traveling during mid-week or shoulder season (late spring and early fall), you can save a lot of money.
6. Use rewards programs
Many travel sites offer their own rewards programs, which are similar to airline frequent flyer plans. Basically, the more you use a travel site, the more points you can accumulate — points you can redeem for discounts on hotels, airfare and travel packages.
Travel sites are highly competitive, and savvy shoppers can take advantage of this. By shopping around, planning ahead and utilizing all the available discount programs, you can circumnavigate the world of online travel sites to find the best available deals for all your travel plans.