Finding the cheapest flight/hotel room/guided tour is good. But finding a great quality flight/hotel room/guided tour for a discounted price is even better.
By now the world knows about the mainstream budget travel websites - Kayak, Airbnb, etc. - which are all excellent resources (I use Expedia all the time). But since I've begun my far-flung adventures I've had to get more creative with ways of saving money, and I've stumbled across some GREAT websites and apps along the way. Below are just some of my favorites.
Alright ya'll. This app is the bomb. This app will show you a color-coded calendar of the cheapest times to fly to your selected destination. Not only that, but if you do select travel dates, it will advise you on when to purchase your tickets based on the likelihood of prices rising or falling.
Perfect to use when: you have a dream destination location, and no specific time restraints
ExitFares sends a brief, once-a-day email to my inbox that alerts me of super affordable airfare departing from my selected city. Because I live in Los Angeles, every day I get an email with low fare flights to various cities around the world. The only catch: these rates are often only available for certain time frames.
Perfect to use when: you're a spontaneous traveler who's willing (and able) to book a trip for predetermined dates
- Airfare Watchdog
Airfare Watchdog serves as somewhat of a combination between Hopper and ExitFares. On Airfare Watchdog I'm currently receiving low-cost alerts for flights from LA to Bangkok (IT WILL HAPPEN, YOU GUYS), but I also receive occasional emails with low-fare alerts for various destinations out of LAX.
My favorite feature here is that the price watch can be flipped to arrival city. SO for example, if you're planning a bachelorette party and the girls all have to meet up in Vegas, you can alert the crew of low fares from their prospective departure cities. Just like that everyone saves money, has more cash to spend on drinks, and you're the #BestMaidOfHonorEver.
Perfect to use when: You need to be the #BestMaidOfHonorEver, or when you want to keep an eye on fares to a specific destination
- Options Away
Options Away is the perfect website for the wary/indecisive traveler. It allows you to put a hold on a flight (for a price) for up to 21 days, and the hold cost evaporates if you actually book the flight.
Perfect to use when: you found the bargain flight, but you're just not quite sure if you'll be able to get the vacation days off
- Groupon Getaways
Tried. And. True. If you missed my weekend in Palm Springs, you wouldn't know that my hotel there was a Groupon Getaways find! It was my first booking experience with Groupon Getaways, and for some reason I was convinced that for the bargain I was getting, there HAD to be something "wrong" with the place. But what I found was a beautiful, well-kept, quirky mid-century motel where I had a genuinely unique and enjoyable weekend. I've also used Groupon to do a few local outings such as whale watching in the South Bay (we totally saw whales), stand-up paddle boarding in the OC, and indoor rock climbing in downtown LA.
Perfect to use when: You're looking for an affordable getaway weekend, or you have a predetermined destination and want to find a steal of a hotel or a fun outing to do while you're there
If you have any other little tricks for frugal traveling, send them along or comment below!