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When I first started this blog I vowed to bring you some great travel deals and I realised recently it’s something sorely lacking on the site currently. As I’m sucker for a bargain I felt it only right to address this.
Just so you know I’m a hard-working deal finder. I have probably put in an equivalent amount of time to tracking down cut price hotels and finding ways to reduce flight costs by trying different airlines/airports/flight times as I have lying on the beach when I finally get to my destination. And it’s paid off. I regularly save a few hundred pounds on a trip and cut a whopping £2,800 off a holiday for two to South Africa and Zambia compared to prices quoted at a high street travel agent. This with absolutely no scrimping on hotel quality.
As with most things, you have to shop around for the best travel deals, in part because the site that offered you a great price on a hotel in New York last year isn’t necessarily going to come up trumps on the same trip again. Also it’s very dependent on where you’re going – some sites are specialist in certain destinations.
My favourite websites for sourcing flights are:
Kayak – great for long-haul destinations, with a clear price comparison calendar showing the cheapest options around your travel date.
Skyscanner – excellent for short-haul, but if you want to research certain low-cost airlines like Easyjet and Ryanair you will still have to go to their site for the best prices.
Cheapflights – a good price guide and there are some bargains to be had but the system is a little restrictive and a lot of the best prices are with travel agents you have to phone, by which time I’ve found the price has changed. If I’m searching online I generally want to complete the purchase online too for convenience.
Finding great deals in hotels can be a more complex matter and if anything requires legwork, and is likely to pay dividends, it’s this. What you’ll find is that different websites are better on different destinations and though one site is great this month, go back in five months time (even for the same destination) and they might not have the best prices.
Here are some of my favourites:
Travelrepublic has some great hotel rates for European destinations. It also lists customers’ hotel reviews, and has a good filtering system for homing in your chosen star rating, board basis, facilities and price range. Hottest rate: £734 for two weeks in a five-star in Antalya, Turkey, in July 2009.
Booking.com Can have some very competitive prices for on hotels in Europe, Asia, the Middle East, parts of Africa and the US. It also has customer reviews and lists single rooms, but beware, sometimes when you spot a low price it can be for single occupancy of a double room, so be careful when you’re booking if you’re actually looking for a double.
Alpharooms is good for European hotels in particular, but also covers destinations in other parts of the world along with Tripadvisor reviews.
Asiarooms was at one time my favourite sites for hotels in Asia and beyond. Then it was taken over by TUI and some of the prices were less favourable. However it still comes up with some gems, like the five-star Sofitel Silom in Bangkok for £69.50 a night, so it’s worth a look.
Travelzoo produces a list which everyone who’s ever had itchy feet should sign up to. The top 20 deals weekly email update is a random collection of the best online offers – perfect for a spontaneous weekend getaway. Just be sure to check out the offers quickly as they are usually as hot and selling fast.
Destination specific sites are great – literally Google ‘Paris hotels’ for example and see what comes up outside of the usual suspects. Here’s a couple of examples
Sawadee is another great site for Thai hotels in particular and includes hotels from all over the country.
0800Paris Hotels has some fantastic prices right now on hotels in the city.
Wherever you plan to visit the most important thing is that you shop around – try the traditional agent sites (Thomson, Thomas Cook, Virgin Holidays etc), the well-known online travel providers (Expedia, Ebookers, Opodo), check out the smaller providers, and search for sites related to your destination. Also feel free to share your best deals/favourite travel booking sites here.
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