FAQ Answered..How Did You Score That Deal?

Rome, Italy

If your late to the party,I recently decided to do a series of blogs based on my most frequently asked questions. If you missed the answer to my first question, no worries scroll down. While I would like to answer the extensive list of question I am asked, its impossible. Well, not impossible, but lets just say I won’t. I will cap this series at my 5 most frequently asked questions. On to question two.

The second most frequent  question I am asked is: Can you tell me what sites you use? Or what are your secrets for getting a deal?

Answer: I cannot tell you how many times I write down a website that displays deals for travel for someone and a few months later they are again asking, what’s the website again? That tells me you do not value travel as much as I do and while you would like to get a deal, you’re not willing to do the research or take the time necessary to plan a trip.  People who do all the travel plans for someone else are called travel agents and they get paid. I don’t so, while I am not opposed to sharing information be mindful that this is extensive work,so if your serious about learning take notes.

There are multiple websites that provide a round-up of weekly or daily airfare deals but you have to be adamant about checking these sites daily and frequesntly.Oh, you thought the travel life was just an easy glamorous thing to do? If you did you are so wrong and really in for a rude awakening when you realize how much work it takes to score a deal. Lets get into the sites I use. My go to site when in the beginning stages of planning my trip is http://www.skyscanner.com. I love skyscanner because it allows you to do an open-ended search. What I mean by that is, I can for instance put In my departure city , leave the destination blank, select entire month or options such as cheapest month for my dates, then hit search. What happens next is a traveler’s dream. Skyscanner, populates a list of every deal from, for instance from NYC in order of price, from cheapest to highest. Additionally the list is separated into U.S. and International.  In plain english, if you have ever sat in front of your computer and wondered where is the cheapest place for me to travel to, today, tomorrow or 6 months from now, skyscanner will become your favorite new website. I can go on forever about the capabilities of skyscanner so I’ll stop here. In terms of user friendliness, I will say it does take some practice to really learn how to get the most out it , but if you are dedicated to learning you’ll get the hang of it.

Just because I favor skyscanner doesn’t mean that I don’t utilize sites such as kayak, Expedia, cheap tickets etc. I hope your starting to see how exhausting finding a deal is, you must compare and contrast. You can get lost for hours on the internet searching and I sometimes do. Another  favorite site is  theflightdeal.com, this site updates daily deals and error fares. This is a site that, the minute you see a deal you have to book right away, because once the airlines realize an error fare is circulating, they close the deal down immediately. While theflightdeal is very useful it’s very complex to use for a novice, they do provide step by step guides on how to use the site, but trust me it takes lots of time to get the hang of it. That’s also another reason why travelers who are experts don’t share secrets and sites with those who ask, it turns into endless phone calls and text messages about how to navigate these sites. I don’t know about you, but this can be exhausting.

More than any site my go to secret is social media… Yes Instagram, Facebook and Twitter are the fastest ways to find d a deal. You spend hours on social media anyway, why not make it rewarding. Follow people who are all about travel, like me @chic_traveler, I know shameless plug. Follow travel groups as they often share with their followers immediately when a flight deal that can’t be missed pops up, same goes for Twitter. Keep in mind that in order to maximize the benefits of these groups on social media, you should become a member. Most of these groups are secret groups on Facebook who have a membership process so you will have to do the leg work to gain access.Two of my favorites to follow are TravelNoire and Nomadness to name a few. If you want to be about that travel life, you should be surrounding yourselves with like-minded people and becoming apart of a travel family. Once you have aligned yourself with travel friends and groups on social media, the information will begin to flow. If you take nothing else away from this blog, immediately go and follow some travel pages on social media.

There are many websites  I utilize as I eluded before and as you may start to catch on from my blog, when I repeat things continuously, I’m probably trying to emphasize a very important piece of information to you. Point here is, don’t go getting married to one site or one tip, utilize every site and leave no stones unturned when it comes to finding a deal. For those who wish to plan a trip and don’t know where to start one of the best  sites I have come across to date for trip planning, especially for a group is  www.travefy.com. It’s a place where you can really organize yourself. Some of the features includes creating an itinerary, inputting hotel and flight details, requesting payment from the group and tracking payments to name a few. My blog is only capable of discussing so much, so I encourage you to log on and explore these websites mentioned for yourself.

The last thing I will discuss when it comes to secrets is something I briefly touched on the  first blog of the series, losing your commitment to travel dates. While I do understand that not everyone has the flexibility to just go as you please  for many reason, kids, family, work etc. It is very important that you understand that the reason why you can never find a good airline ticket deal is because you are committed to set dates. Find the deal first then plan the trip. I have bought airline tickets for 6 months in advance because it was an amazing deal and I figured out the rest later. Many of you may go back to the reasons previously listed, as to why you can’t do this, but in reality you can. You are just too committed to being the perfect planner to try. My travels are dictated by the deal period. I use to be like you once. Picking a set date, requesting the vacation time,booking the hotel and airfare, then spending hundreds on dollars on a trip, that could have cost my less had I been more flexible.

My travel is sporadic and is a combination of planning and going with the flow. I cannot give you a perfect plan because I rarely ever have one. Most of my trips usually start with me calling my best friends saying hey you see that deal for ( fill in the blank), yes… you want to go .. ok ..booked. My only compass is whatever is cheap and requires the least vacation days. Sounds crazy but that’s really how 90 percent of my trips start out. After securing the flight deal, I then start looking for options for where I will sleep. Sometimes I do this months in advance if I plan to go the normal hotel route(i.e. staying at the Hilton etc), but as you can see by now, I’m rarely a normal traveler. Booking hotel and flight together work for all-inclusive, but in the art of finding a deal on airfare this isn’t so. I sometimes book my hotel  a week before I leave, or sometimes even the night before. Now if you’re not savvy with deals, I suggest you give yourself plenty of time, but  depending on destination, chances are a deal can always be found on hotels, utilizing sites like hotwire.com or priceline.com method of  blind booking. Yup blind booking, meaning you don’t see the name of hotel until after you pay. Some see it as taking a gamble but if you stick to the rule of 4 stars and above ratings, you rarely go wrong. There are many sites or apps that have last min hotel booking rates (something that would require a whole other blog to cover).

Again I’m sure your either scratching your head wondering did you miss the secret, or you were enlightened that travel is accessible to all utilizing websites that are available  via the world-wide web. I hope  you are opening your eyes to the fact that, we can all travel the world, given a little effort to find a price that works for whatever your budget is. If your shocked at my answers, I have done my job in this blog, dispelling the notions that travel is this mysterious thing only done by those who have heavily lined pockets, truth is most frequent travelers have pockets heavily  lined with information.

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