Excerpted from Condé Nast Traveler
Time it Right
1. Fly on a Tuesday, Wednesday or Saturday.
Traveling on off-peak days – and at off-peak times – means lower fares, a less crowded cabin and a greater chance of snagging those elusive mileage-award seats. Taking two days off for a long weekend? Instead of a Thursday to Sunday or a Friday to Monday trip, save money by flying on a Saturday and returning on a Tuesday.
Photo by Cynthia Dial
2. Hop Between Cities at Midday.
When you’re traveling through Europe or Asia and need to get from one city to another, consider scheduling transportation for the middle of the day. If you leave at dawn, you miss the sunrise – ideal for photography and observing locals – and reach your destination at midday, when temperatures are highest, the light is at its worst for photos and it’s too early to check into your hotel. (You may also have to fight rush-hour commuters and miss a breakfast that is included in your rate.)
3. Visit Islands During Shoulder Season.
Peak-season rates on islands often reflect nearby countries’ vacation schedules rather than the best time to visit (Bali’s hotels, for instance, fill up with Japanese in early May and with Australians in January). In low season, many businesses shut down. Shoulder season – when crowds are thinner but the weather is still good – is the solution.
Find the Hidden Deals
4. Sign Up for E-mail Notifications.
The best airfare and hotel sales are largely unannounced. Airlines and hotel companies target specific subsets of travelers – loyalty program members, holders of certain credit cards, people who’ve registered on their Web sites – and alert them by e-mail. To keep your in-box from being bombarded, get a dedicated e-mail address for such alerts and check it when you’re ready to start planning your next trip. If you can make quick purchasing decisions, sign up for alerts from flash-sale sites that sell hotel rooms at discounts of 40 percent or more, such as Jetsetter and Tablet Hotels.
Find the Right Human Beings
5. Get the Best Room for Your Dollar
At luxury properties, rates vary substantially according to occupancy. A room could be $350 one week because there’s a big group and $250 the next because nobody’s coming. For top-end hotels that have on-site reservation desks, call and ask the manager when, during your travel window, the hotel will be emptiest and thus have the lowest rates. Then ask something like, “If I come on that date, would there be a chance of an upgrade to ocean-view?”
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