I do a lot of media interviews over the course of a year as I’ve gotten a reputation as a travel bargains expert, someone who knows how to travel well for less. Most of the time the reporters who contact me are looking for the elusive hot scoop, that new travel app or unknown website that will open up a world of fantastic deals for their readers.
The thing is, the reason I made the book Make Your Travel Dollars Worth a Fortune so “evergreen” is that getting travel deals is seldom about new technology. Sure, getting access to deals helps and the right app can certainly save you lots of time when away from a computer. Often though, it’s the tried and true websites that have scale and history on their side that keep delivering. I still use SkyAuction sometimes and keep recommending Bookit.com and CheapCarribbean.com to friends looking for a warm weather vacation bargain. There’s nothing shiny or new about these 90s oldies. They just deliver great deals.
Which brings us to Hotwire and Priceline. For a trip home for the holidays, I was flying into Washington D.C. and needed a null for 10 days, during prime vacation time. I checked and rechecked all the possible booking sites and made a reservation just in case for a mid-sized car that period. It was $398, about the best deal I could find from the airport. But then two days before landing I went on Hotwire. I got a full sized car from Dollar for $195—total. That’s what I paid when I brought the car back 9 days later. Half price. For a larger car.
For most people, chain hotels and rental cars are commodities. It doesn’t make much difference which one you’re in as long as the location is where you want to be. Plus you’re not going into this blind anyway if you do a little digging: there are message boards that will tell you which hotel you’re likely to get when you bid on Priceline or Hotwire and now Priceline is even showing winning bids in each city. See this null for where to go.
My one caveat is that all this works much better in the U.S. and Western Europe than it does for the rest of the world. For foreign markets, especially outside of European capitals, pickings are sometimes slim.
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