My Three Best Travel Secrets

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, 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:

I regularly use,, or 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 before booking.

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.

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 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!!!

Disclosure: This article contains affiliate links to hotel booking sites. If you click on any of the links and make a booking, I may earn a small commission, which keeps this blog free to read.


55 Comments on “My Three Best Travel Secrets

  1. I enjoyed reading it. You are great and unique. However, I reached here and after coming here. I do not have to say thank you to you.

  2. Wow! Great. This is the valuable post I really loved it. I think it helps anyone planning to travel. I believe that you are the great adventure. Can I join you?

  3. 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 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 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,, 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.

    • Good tips, Jared. Skyscanner now works all over the world, BTW.

  4. 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,


    • 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.

  5. This is a great post with a lot of value to any traveler take a look before taking off somewhere in the future, thanks

  6. 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.

    • 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.

  7. 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.

    • 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 🙂

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  9. 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.

  10. 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? 

  11. 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

  12. 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 …

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  14. 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.

  15. Sounds Great Barbara!!! I liked your post very much. Thanx for the Secrets 😀
    Any wayz you guys already know that United Kingdom is the good place to enjoy your holidays. Here are some important tips for tourists who visits the United Kingdom for holiday . To enjoy the most UK places or destinations , then you must visit
    Holidays in the UK

  16. Hi Barbara,
    I’ll add a secret I used alot when I travelled more. This works best when arriving by boat. I travelled light with a backpack and I never needed reservations for places to stay as there are rooms for rent if you walk through the villages. Works very easily on Greek Islands.

    • Thanks Nirvan. That’s the way I travel as well – no reservations. Works for me!

  17. Sehr interessant. Kommt hier noch ein Folgeartikel? Möchte sehr gern einiges mehr darüber erfahren. Könntest du mir per Mail eine Antwort geben?

  18. If you can’t afford a luxurious travel to India, make sure that you plan your trip ahead of time. Perhaps you can do this a couple of months before the trip. This way, you will still have time to save for your trip. Aside from that, you will also have enough time to search the interest for cheap deals that you can use in your travel to India. By researching online, you can find out all the cheapest deals that can still meet your traveling needs. It will just take time and diligence.

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  20. Hi Barbara, I totally agreed that booking air ticket online directly from the airlines could save us more money. I always book Air Asia flights when I wish to go overseas and Ryanair is my choice for flights in Europe… 🙂 Good information shared.

  21. great! thanks for posting these tips. I am so glad that I came across your blog entry. it gave me ideas on how to handle such events

  22. very nice article… it’s a good thing there are people like you who could come out with substantial blogs that provide us with information about certain topics that will help us in the future

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  26. Thanks for sharing your location dependent websites. You really do need to know what websites to use based on where you are in the world…else you are probably paying too much. someone should simply do a blogpost about that! Hint, hint!

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  28. I especially liked the tip about searching the airport websites. Lots of people don’t want to do the extra bit of work but there are some good deals that the big online travel booking services don’t list.

  29. Thoughts from DeeNice, the Hostel Virgin

    Barbara, I wish I had read your valuable info before I made my maiden journey this past October 2009 into the world of Hostels.

    The tip of Google-ing the “discount coupon code” was a great idea. I have struggled to find flights & accommodations last minute, and have been trying to find competitive last minute fares and the discount coupon will help alot! Appreciate what your offer on your blog.

    BTW – I found this site recently, I don’t know anything about this site, thought I would ask your opinion. Have been reading comments on google and not sure about it.

    Again, great tips to all who are committed to crossing borders, sharing lives, as my mentor Rita Golden Gelman (Tales of a Female Nomad) would say.

    I loved reading about your transition in life in your 50’s. My feelings are the same as yours.

    Take Care: DeeNice

    • Hi DeeNice:
      Thanks for stopping by and taking the time to leave a comment. I’m afraid I know nothing about SKYAUCTION. I took a look at it and it’s probably not something I would use because with an auction you invariably have to wait to see if you won the bid, and when I want to go, I want to go now! I see you work with Rita Golden Gelman – I’ve read her Tales of a Female Nomad; we have a lot in common. And I was pleased to learn what she is doing with her organization, Birth of a Movement. You’re right about hostels (your story about Amsterdam was hilarious); you never really know what you’re going to get until you get there, but you have a better chance of landing in a good one if you check it out with the members of Lonely Planet’s Thorn Tree Forum beforehand. All the best – and keep traveling.

  30. Great money-saving tips Barbara. In Europe I’d definitely check out Ryanair & Easyjet before any other airline if your decision is price driven. However, some of the the other airlines are becoming more price focussed as a result of the competition and you’ll invariably get more extras and luggage allowance with the mainstream carriers.

    On the vouchers – I’ve recently discovered the Voucher websites such as which often reveal an extra bonus discount you can get on a selected hotel. Check out my post about it – there’s a $50 Amazon voucher up for grabs if you leave a comment.

    Now I’m going to have to come up with my best travel secrets

  31. Googling for extra discounts! It’s so obvious once you say so, but I never thought of it. Great tip — thanks!

  32. Love the info. Will sure to take a look before taking off somewhere in the future.

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