My Three Best Travel Secrets

Remember playing tag when you were a kid? Slapping someone on the back and yelling, “Tag, you’re it!” Well, I’ve just been been ‘virtually tagged.’ My friend and fellow travel blogger, Shannon Lane, was ‘tagged’ to participate in the meme known as My Three Best Travel Secrets (a meme, which rhymes with cream, is a catchphrase or concept that spreads rapidly from person to person via the Internet). From what I understand, the game was started by Katie of Tripbase.com, the lovely folks who awarded me second place in the category of best North/South American blog of 2009 in their annual Travel Blog Awards.

After sharing three great secrets about her home state of Louisiana, Shannon ‘tagged’ me to be next in line to divulge my best travel secrets. My first reaction was, “Only three?” How could I possibly narrow it down to only three. In the end, I decided to reveal my secrets for booking last minute accommodations and transportation around the world without breaking the bank. Frankly, I detest being locked into definite travel plans. My preference is to book the first night at a destination (two nights at most), and then wing it from there. Fellow travelers are always eager to share secrets about spectacular, little-known towns or sites they have visited and not being locked into reservations allows me to take advantage of these tips, but it also means I am often looking for last minute bookings, which can be frustrating as well as expensive. However I do have a few tricks to help with this process, which I’ve detailed below:

HOTELS:
I regularly use Booking.com, Hotels.com, or HotelsCombined.com to find great last minute hotel reservations at affordable prices and the cheapest places to travel. I also read what travelers have to say about specific properties at TripAdvisor.com before booking.

FLIGHTS:
In the U.S. I never use the big online booking agents like Expedia or Travelocity because they don’t search all discount carriers. It takes a bit more time, but I go to the AIRPORT websites that I want to fly between, search to see which of the discount airlines serve those airports, then book directly on the airline’s web site. The best discount airline in the U.S. is Southwest. European discount airlines  include Ryanair, easyJet, Norwegian, Flybe, and Turkish Air. In Asia I fly AirAsia, Air India, Ukraine International Airlines, Nok Air (Thailand only), Scoot, and Thai Airways; and in Australia check into  Regional Express (REX) and Virgin Australia.

EXTRA DISCOUNTS:
Once you’ve determined which hotel or airline you wish to book through, before making your final purchase, Google the hotel/airline name with the words “discount coupon code.” You will often discover an additional discount that can be applied at the time of making the online reservation. For example, I just Googled “discount coupon code hotels” and found a code for 15% off Hilton Hotels and 20% off the lowest rates at Best Westerns, among other deals. (TIP: this works well for all online shopping, from Amazon.com to individual stores like Crabtree & Evelyn, and there are numerous sites that search the Internet and display all these discounts on a single site.)

So there you have it, my top travel secrets (OK, I’m cheating; I’ve given you more than three – so shoot me). Now all that’s left is to ‘tag’ five other travel bloggers, and here they are:

  • Sherry Ott at ottsworld (oops – previously tagged)
  • Mark H at Travel Wonders of the World
  • Robin Locker at MyMelange (previously tagged)
  • Heather Cowper at Heather on her Travels
  • Andy Jarosz at 501 Places
  • Sebastien at Colliding Continents
  • Lanora Mueller at Writing Travel

TAG! You’re it!!!

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57 thoughts on “My Three Best Travel Secrets”

  1. It seems like the flight & hotel landscape is always changing so thought I would give my two cents on how to find best prices.

    For flights, I like Kayak, or Skyscanner if you’re in Europe. They are ‘meta search’ sites, so search all online travel agencies, such as Expedia, plus the airlines direct. Yes, there are some airlines that don’t participate, like Southwest, but most do. I find this to be the easiest and quickest way to find the cheapest or most direct flight with my schedule.

    Hotels are opposite. It used to be that hotels.com was all you needed – similar to Kayak for flights. But lately, there has been a backlash from hotels such as Marriot who are tired of paying commissions to online travel sites and want to win back direct bookings. Definitely check hotels.com and expedia, but also check the direct website of your favorite properties. Often times, you’ll find deals only available to direct guests. This is especially true if you’re a loyalty member.

    Also, shameless plug for my site, StrideTravel.com, the largest search & reviews site for multi day tours. We show you thousands of trips from different operators so you can compare itineraries, prices, and read reviews. This ensures you not only get the best deal, but the perfect trip for your travel style.

    Reply
  2. Hi Barbara, I normally don’t reply to anything online but I’m fascinated by your story and was especially interested when I read your favourite things in life are photography, writing and travel; pretty much the same as me. I’m also a “babyboomer” and last year in the midst of moving and going through everything, I was shocked to realize how long it had been since I had done things that were still fresh in my mind. Ie. I still had all my old sports equipment but hadn’t played ball in over 25 years and hadn’t hiked the Westcoast Trail of Vancouver Island in about 27 years, etc., etc.

    I’m now hoping to embark on a life similar to yours, starting April 1st. Your discussion regarding Youth Hostels was enlightening, as I have always preferred staying in these places where one meets so many interesting people; and as you say, young and old.

    I will be following your journeys and hopefully will be able to communicate with you,

    Cheers,
    …Bill

    Reply
    • Hi Bill! How exciting for you. I well remember the day I first set out. I was thrilled and terrified at the same time. You are in for a great adventure, and please feel free to email me should you have any questions along the way. I don’t always have internet, as I’m in developing countries a lot, but I always eventually answer. Be sure to read the reviews of hostels before you pick one, to make sure they are not a “party place.” Those can be aggravating places to stay at our age.

      Reply
  3. I’m also a traveler, and each of us has our own secrets to save money from traveling, and I agree with you except going to hotel. Try renting, it’s less expensive. Anyway, it’s a great idea about the tip in searching airport websites. Thank you for sharing. It helps.

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    • Hi Shara: I’m not a fan of hotels in general. I usually stay at a hostel, a small guest house, or book an apartment. But Americans are more likely to choose hotels, thus my tip. Glad you enjoyed my article and found it helpful.

      Reply
  4. Hey Barbara,

    Play newsstand which is a Google app on Samsung Tabs suggested me your blog for travel reading and tips. Thank you so much for ur information, it is really great to read. I have bookmarked ur blog.

    Keep up the good work.

    Reply
    • Hi Chinki: Thanks for letting me know about the Play Newsstand; I’d never heard of it and am always interested in learning how people find out about my blog. And I’m so happy to hear that you like my little blog 🙂

      Reply
  5. As a recent grad trying to travel, pinching pennies is a big deal. I recommend searching deal sites like slickdeals if you need to buy anything as you can often find great deals on whatever you might need.

    Reply
  6. I’d agree with Kate on checking out a 

    holiday villa or home rental  instead of a hotel or resort. Find one where you are in direct contact with the owner (rather than a rental agency), and why not be cheeky and simply ask for a discount or special offer? 

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  7. Using booking sites is a great way to get the best deal when you don’t have a reservation, or when you have to make one in the last moment, thanks for sharing this great tips with us

    Reply
  8. the advice i always give  to my friends is  to do a
    home rental l during the staying, it’s’ a good way to save money since the hotels are so expensive …

    Reply
  9. A cheap discount airline travel ticket can be found with some patience, flexibility and effort. Spend some more time and you are sure to find a deal your wallet can live with. I got many cheap discount airline travel ticket here.

    Reply

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