There's nothing worse than anticipating a much needed getaway only to discover a lot of unexpected fees, add-ons and additional expenses once you get to your dream spot. With so many sites and so many choices, how do you know if you’re getting the best deal?
Today, I was on KLOVE, with the fun-loving Scott and Kelli to make some recommendations that will make the process easier and more rewarding.
STEP 1: Be the Expert - You may think you have a good idea of what a great price is for airfare to the Grand Canyon, but how can you be sure? By subscribing to a few travel alerts and newsletters, such as Travelzoo, SmarterTravel, Yapta are good as well as Bing.
STEP 2: Beware! -- You don't want to show up for your dream vacation and find out that the "Five Star" hotel you booked looks more like the Professor's hut on Gilligan's Island. For videos of hotels, restaurants, and attractions, go to Tripfilms and take a peek from videos posted by other travelers. You can also look at families' vacation photos of your destination at Flickr. Or read reviews by others posted at TripAdvisor.
STEP 3: Be Smart -- "A Wise man count the cost before he builds a tower" says Proverbs. When you're searching for the best air fare, go to BookingBuddy, which will save time and money because it will search almost all of the OTHER airfare research sites (such as Orbitz, Expedia, CheapTickets, etc) to give you the best price. Also, find out the real price of your airline experience by checking Airline Fees: The Ultimate Guide at SmarterTravel where you'll find the cost of carryons, checked luggage, blankets, pillows or if you have to cough up $100 more for that extra leg room!
STEP 4: Be Open -- It's really a buyer's market in some areas this year, especially if you are open to more than one vacation idea. For example, this year, according to the 40% to 60% off deals at Travel-ticker to go on a seven day Mexican Carribbean Cruise than it is for us to go to Disneyland. So we'll feast on fajitas this year and leave the mouse ears for next year!
STEP 5: Be Social - Do you want to know if that restaurant you're considering is good or not? Then turn to your social media friends (and a smart phone) to find out! By using facebook and twitter, just ask your friends what they think. Or log onto Yelp to see what others are saying. By getting a free app with FlightAware you can track your flight within five minutes of real time.
Question of the Week from Georgina from Baker, FL - Ellie, I know you purchase $25 gift certificates when they go on sale at Restaurant.com for only $2, but is there a "catch" or any restrictions involved?
ELLIE: Georgina, I find out that these are on sale by subscribing to the Top Twenty and I LOVE them! The restrictions are listed and usually include the fact that they will add 18% automatically at the restaurant for a tip (before the gift certificate, so don't double tip) and you have to spend $35 to use the $25 gift certificate. Even so, we still save about 50% and it's worth it!
More Sites for Savings
Hotels.com – Find best prices on hotels internationally and earn bonus stays
Ifly.com – terminal maps, estimates on how long security lines are, where to eat.
Otalo.com – vacation house rental deals
Tripkick.com – detailed info on hotels and specific room info
TVtrip.com – photos of lobbies, rooms and neighborhoods
Oyster.com – pros and cons of different hotels
Voyij.com – checks best sales, promotions and package deals from departure city
Seatexpert.com – guide to the best and worst airline seats
Have a Great Escape!
America's Family Financial Expert