So as you all know, I'm obsessed with planes. I LOVE to travel. Booking and researching travel is actually very fun for me. So here's some tips for you based on my experience with making reservations. Now keep in mind, I do not work for a hotel or airline so this info is not from TSA and shit. It's just what I know from traveling so much and always looking for good deals for good quality.
Cheap days to book...
Flight prices change by the minute. There's talk about there being cheap days and expensive days to book, and although I have noticed trends, its still not concrete. It really depends. Now in MY experience, Tuesday thru Thursday are the cheapest days. Flight prices normally start to drop on Tuesday. By Wednesday they are usually the cheapest. But thursday is tricky. It can stay the same as Wed, go down, or go back up. Really depends, but tues/wed are "safe" days. I do notice that Friday thru Monday is usually expensive. And Jet Blue usually has some sort of sale every Tuesday.
I almost NEVER book a round trip ticket together. Here's why. People seem to think that a round trip ticket is "cheaper" if you book the flights going and coming in the same transaction. That's not true. Its the same exact price as 2 one ways separate. But here's why I book separately. I do my research on flight prices one way so I can see how or why the round trip is the price it is.
For example. A round trip could be $500. But the one way going could be $110 and the return could be $390. I want to see the price of each so I can compare airlines. The main reason I do NOT book roundtrip is because they usually give you both flights on the same airline. The 3rd party sites rarely mix and match for the lowest price. So I rather just do it myself. Basically going, could be $150 on Delta and coming back could be $300 on Delta. But coming back on Continental or US Airways could be $170 coming back. This is the reason why I rather search tickets "one way".
As much as I travel, I basically know what's a "good price" and what's not. So for example, a "good price" flight from NYC to ATL is $110 one way. That's when I'm jumping up and down and typing in my info at lightning speed. But on a "bad price" day, it could be $430 one way. That's when I sit my ass home and wait for it to drop. For $430 I could been to and from Cabo, Mexico. Also, I do NOT usually use 3rd party sites to book flights. Booking directly from the airline is cheaper and "safer"... People who book directly with the airline have priority just in case of any "emergencies"... Example: when the swine flu hit Mexico. But there ARE times that 3rd party sites have their own sale prices on flights. Such as cheap ickets.com or orbitz.com ... ALWAYS be SURE to open the confirmation email that you receive from company after booking. The email COULD be saying that your flight was NOT successfully booked. This has happened to me before and the ticket was not booked when I arrived at the airport.
I use Kayak.com to compare the different airlines tho.
Every flight does not have the same amenities. You can choose which aircraft you want to be on, on the website for most airlines. For example, you can see which flight has wifi, personal tvs, and outlets when you're booking your flight via the delta website. I personally don't care about tvs but I need wifi. And the outlets are so helpful.
Do NOT do this all the time. They could potentially catch on to your pattern. A connecting flight is USUALLY cheaper than a non stop. So with that said, if I REALLY need to get on a flight that I feel is too expensive one way, non stop, then I look for a connecting flight to somewhere else, stopping in the city that I want. Example: Sometimes when I'm going to ATL the one way is over $200. And that's a little pricey. So I'll search for tickets to other cities connecting in ATL, such as orlando. A connecting to Orlando from NYC could be $120. The flight will be going from NYC to ATL then to ORL but i just get off in ATL. So I still get a nonstop flight to Atlanta and for $120. Make sure you check to see where which state the flight connects in. Don't just choose ANY flight. It needs to connect in the city you are trying to get to.
There's a few things you need to know about doing this... This is ONLY for Carry on luggage. You CAN NOT do this if you checked a bag. Your checked bag will go to your final destination on the ticket. You can NOT be late for the plane. If you are one of the last people on the plane then there may not be any overhead space for your bag. If that happens, they take your bag and check it, which means it will be going to the FINAL destination. Lastly, you can NOT get on the 2nd leg of the flight. So for example. You can not book a ticket from NYC to MIA, connecting in ATL and get on in atlanta. Once you miss the first leg of your flight, the second one automatically gets canceled.
Miles and Points
Miles and points SURE do come in handy. So it does pay to use the same airline as often as possible. I personally like to try different ones Sometimes to see if I like it but I mainly use delta. Now although delta DOES have their annoying things about them, they go most places so the points accumulate. But with Delta you can't use your points until you have accumulated 25,000 UNLESS you have a delta credit card. So yo have to wait. So if you don't travel that often AirTran might be a better choice for you because they're point system is better. You can book a flight with as little as 6 credits. Their points do expire tho, as well as Jet Blue's points. Everyone hates American Airlines these days but their point system is ok. Just try to stick to A few airlines so that you can get the extra perks.
In addition to miles and points, AirTran has a standby program for people ages 18-22. It starts at $60 for a one way flight. Just go to the airport with your ID. Read up on it at AirTran.com under "programs". It's called AirTran U
How should I book hotels?
Hotels are tricky also, just like flights. For example. If a plane has 40 seats, 5 seats are for expedia, 5 are for travelocity, 5 are for whatever.com ... Same with hotels. So if a hotel has 100 rooms. 10 are for expedia, 10 are for orbitz, etc... So the 10 or so that each 3rd party has, can kinda make the room whatever price they want. That's why it could be $179 a night on Travelocity and $489 on Expedia. The 3rd party website could have their own sale going on for that hotel. So you seriously have to compare a lot of sites when it comes to hotels for the lowest price.
Here's the tricky things about hotels. Booking straight from the hotel website is usually cheaper but that's because they don't charge you the rest of the fees til you check out. When you book the hotel on their website, you're not being charged. Its just a hold on your card. They don't charge you til you leave. So sometimes you may have THOUGHT you paid for the hotel and go and spend that money and get surprised when they hit you with the bill at checkout.
Now on the other hand, when you book your hotels through third party websites, all the taxes and hotel fees are included in the price and your room is booked and paid for up front. Nowadays guests are being hit with $60 a night resort fees that are in FINE PRINT somewhere on the website. When guests check out, they had NO clue about these fees. Make sure you find out what the extra fees are when you book through the hotel's website.
Me personally, I HATE all inclusive resorts. I HATE the "orange juice eggs". Lol. I really don't like the food. They barely want you to leave the resort to experience the native life. I want native food and local fun. Let's be real, most resorts are old married couples.
Always make sure you check the guest reviews. Of course everyone's experience and taste is different but if 5 people say that the carpet stinks... Guess what, the carpet stinks. The guest reviews will tell you how far or close everything is from the hotel usually. They'll either love it or be complaining about it.
Lastly, don't forget about the "incidental hold"... On most hotels they put a hold on your credit card for any damages or charges to the room. This charge can range from $25 to $200 a NIGHT. The W hotel can be $200 a night. They release the hotel when you check out. It takes 3 days for the money to be available on your card again.
And yes, booking flight and hotel together is Usually cheaper. Still make sure you do your homework on the flights though so you know how much you're REALLY paying for the flight.
I probably left some things out...so if I did, just email me with any other questions that you have and I will add it to the blog. Ciao.