The beginner’s guide to booking travel and saving money

Dima Sidelnikov /

Traveling can be expensive. Perhaps this is why 81% of Gen Zs focus heavily on their budget when making travel decisions, according to Luggage Hero. But even choosing the cheapest flights and accommodations you can find, you can still pay more than you need to. To get the best deals on airline tickets and hotel stays as a first-time traveler, it helps to have some insider advice. Whether it’s knowing what to look for when booking or avoiding losing money or paying hidden fees, here is the beginner’s guide you need to help you save the most money. travelling.

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How to save money when booking flights

Becca and Dan of Half Half Travel traveled by plane for the first time since 2020 and were shocked when they found out how much standard airlines charge for luggage these days. “Let’s say you’ll pay for your luggage when booking a flight (domestic or international), so factor that into your travel budget up front,” Becca said. “It can be $ 35, and it can be $ 55.” Unfortunately, most airlines charge for luggage and the prices are per piece of luggage, which can really add up if you are not traveling light. However, Southwest Airlines is an airline that does not charge your first or second checked baggage.

While choosing the right airline is important, sometimes what you think is the cheapest airline isn’t, according to Alex Miller, founder and CEO of UpgradedPoints. “Don’t always assume that low cost carriers, like Southwest, have the lowest fares – often traditional carriers, like United and Delta and American, will have lower fares,” he said.

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And when it comes to the average price you can expect to pay for an international airline ticket compared to a domestic ticket, you might be surprised. “Today, some of the international flights are turning out to be cheaper than some domestic ones,” said Shondra Cheris, owner of travel company Black Will Travel. “In July, flights to Las Vegas cost over $ 700 from Washington DC. For that price, you could fly to the Caribbean or even to Europe.

If you’re wondering if the day of the week matters when booking flights, Miller said fares aren’t necessarily cheaper on a certain day. “Search for your flights when you’re ready to book,” he said. “An ideal time for the ‘sweet spot’ is about two to three months before departure for the lowest fares. “

However, Cheris offered some insider tip that can help you save money when choosing flight departure and return dates: “When booking flights… flights leaving on Friday and returning on Monday tend to be more expensive, ”she said.

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How to save money when booking accommodation

Cheris also had a tip for saving money when making hotel reservations: “When booking a hotel, weekend stays usually cost more,” she said. “Ditto on AirBnB. The only time this may not be the case is when booking all-inclusive resorts.

If you want to save even more on accommodation, you can book a hostel. According to Statista, the average daily rate for hotels in the United States was around $ 91, as of November 2020. Hostels cost a fraction of the price. According to tripsavvy, you can expect to pay $ 10 to $ 30 for a dorm at a hostel and about double for a private room.

But beware: “Hostel prices are generally much lower than hotels, although they come with a lot less amenities, so be prepared for a ‘no-frills’ experience,” Miller said. Another downside is that you may not be able to book a hostel with your flight unless you use services like Priceline or Expedia, according to Charis.

Miller offered another helpful tip, if staying at a hostel isn’t your thing, “Many hotels have rates where you can pre-pay for a stay for a substantial savings.”

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How to Avoid Hidden Fees and Lose Money

“Read the fine print,” Cheris said. “When people book with active, genuine agents, we provide them with the fine print because people don’t like to read. So when you book yourself, read the fine print. If you have any questions, email or call the travel provider to get the answers you need.

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Miller said: “Most airlines offer travel credits or vouchers for the full value of your trip if you need to cancel, but as a matter of principle don’t book any base economy fare as this will sometimes exclude the possibility of converting. the ticket. in cash for later use.

Miller also advised to be careful when booking hotels. “They often charge resort or destination fees that can quickly add up,” he said. “Sometimes you can request that these be canceled if not all services or amenities are available due to COVID. “

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Things to remember about restrictions in the event of a pandemic

“The most important thing travelers need to keep in mind right now is how quickly travel restrictions can change,” said Steve Oliverez, CEO of Insanely Cheap Flights. “It is important to keep abreast of entry conditions at destination, whether they are vaccinations, negative tests or quarantines. Don’t assume the rules are the same as when you booked your trip.

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Last updated: September 22, 2021

This article originally appeared on The Beginner’s Guide to Booking Travel and Saving Money

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