We all could use a vacation. Am I right? The coronavirus has plagued our nation since early March and no one knows when we will get back to "normal". However, let's dream a little bit. Someday (hopefully soon) the economy will open, and people will begin to feel comfortable traveling again. Where are you going to go? Somewhere with warm sandy beaches? Somewhere with beautiful mountain landscapes? A big city with tourist hot-spots?
Today we will look at a few ways to travel for cheaper. When the virus passes, we are actually at an ideal time in history for air travel, financially speaking. Air travel was already experiencing its lowest prices (factoring in inflation) in history before the pandemic. Now it's even lower.
So how do you take advantage of cheap travel? Where are the best deals?
As a fellow frequent traveler, let me offer my best advice, both by learning from my mistakes and in learning from what I did right. I should say these tips are not Summit Wealth Group endorsed, they are Josh Willink endorsed. These are simply my personal experiences.
My wife and I are huge fans of Hotwire. Hotwire is a system where hotels will offload their unsold rooms to be sold at discounted prices. The catch is, the hotel doesn’t want its competition knowing what their bottom dollar is for an otherwise unsold room, so they will not reveal their identity until you actually book the hotel.
In other words, you have no idea what hotel you are booking until you actually book it! Sound scary? It is! At least, it was. Hotwire has come a long way from the early days. Now, you can know so many things about the hotel such as Trip Advisor reviews, amenities, general location, etc. In fact, many times I’ve been able to do some detective work and figure out exactly what hotel it is before I book it.
In our 6 night trip to Florida back in February, we saved $800 on hotels. That $800 figure comes from me looking at what the cheapest option would have been had I booked the same hotel not through Hotwire (i.e., Orbitz, Priceline, or booking through the hotel directly).
The downside is that you really can’t book a hotel too far in advance. Remember, the system is meant to help hotels trying to sell their unsold rooms, which means they probably aren’t trying to do so until a few days before. This is why the best deals are found 2 or 3 days before you actually need to stay there. And for some, it simply isn’t worth it to risk waiting until the last minute hoping for a deal. For us, Hotwire has never failed us, and we’ve used it probably a hundred times.
For international flights, we use Scott's Cheap Flights to tell us where the best deal is. It is a subscription-based service that emails daily with a new destination at an insanely cheap price. It relies on its users and an algorithm to detect glitches or sudden drops in prices from your local airport to an international destination. Our last flight we booked from Chicago to Calgary and we saved close to $2,000 roundtrip for our family of 4!
We like Turo. Not many people have heard of it. But think of it as the Airbnb of cars. It is simply people who rent out their personal automobiles. I like it for two reasons.
1) It’s almost always cheaper (if you haven’t realized this by now, I’m all about saving money).
2) You can choose through a whole list of autos from a brand new Tesla to a 1995 Ford Taurus. Even if I might never rent it, I love that I at least have the option of renting a '95 Ford Taurus. Maybe I'm going somewhere for a couple of days, just trying to get from A to B and want to save money. That said, even the new cars are typically cheaper to rent than the car rental companies.
The downsides to Turo is occasionally you will get someone who is ultra-sensitive with their car. We had that before and had a rough time with their over-communication. That, and most of the time you have mile limitations.
Also, I have had it once where I couldn’t find a Turo cheaper than what the rental car agencies were offering. That is very rare but just something to be aware of.
Now that you have some tips on how to save on your rental car, hotel, and flights, you are set up for some major savings! Now you have some extra to spend on the fun parts of travel, like the adventures you are about to embark on when the coronavirus is over. Have fun and happy traveling!