When planning a trip, it can be difficult to know if you’re truly getting a great deal. As you book your flights, hotels, and tours, every site promises to find you the lowest prices and best value around. So how do you know if you’re really getting the best travel deals?
The fact is that, sometimes, finding the best travel deals come to those who are willing to take a second look. By having the patience and flexibility to shop around instead of booking the first deal you see, you could save hundreds of dollars on your next vacation.
That’s why we’ve teamed up with our friends at Policygenius, the company that saves homeowners $1,000 per year by re-shopping their policies, to help you understand when it pays to shop around for travel.
Who covers the cost of commission fees?
These days, there are countless ways to book tours, activities, and excursions before your trip. Some of the most popular options include Trip Advisor, Airbnb Experiences, GetYourGuide, and Viator. But while these marketplaces are great for booking ahead of time, you may not always be getting the best price.
Most online booking platforms charge additional fees. Sometimes these fees appear on the customer side but they almost always apply to the person or company that actually provides the tour. So even if those extra fees don’t show up on your bill, many tour operators raise their prices on these platforms in order to compensate for the commission fees taken by booking sites, so it pays to shop around.
This also brings us to our next point: the value of booking directly.
Is it cheaper to book direct?
To avoid the sizeable commission fees from booking sites, the travel and tourism industries have begun aggressively incentivizing travelers to book direct.
If you visit the website of most hotels and hostels right now, almost all of them add perks to entice guests to book directly. In addition to offering the lowest rates available, many of them also sweeten their offers by adding special bonuses like an extra 10% off, free welcome drinks, food and drink credits, spa services, and more.
For booking tours and excursions, you can often find a much better price if you book in-person instead of online, especially if you’re paying cash. For instance, those popular booking sites may charge $50 for a half-day boat tour in Thailand that would cost half as much if you just walked up and booked once you’re there.
As for flights, booking direct provides the added bonus of protection in the event of a canceled or changed flight. Many travelers have learned the hard way – especially when the pandemic turned the travel industry upside down – that the middle-man companies can be incredibly difficult to deal with when it comes to tracking down refunds.
The best way to use these booking sites is to use them to search for your tours, flights, and accommodations. Then, visit the company’s personal site to see if it makes more sense to book direct.
Are you just paying for convenience?
Some tour operators charge more money just for the convenience of having the planning and organization done for you. But as any budget traveler will tell you, spending a little extra time planning your trip could save you some serious money.
Take for example the Bacardi Factory, a popular day trip just across the bay in San Juan, Puerto Rico. Online, many organized tour companies charge upwards of $80 to take you on a factory tour. Sure, the price includes transportation and your ticket, simplifying the booking process for you.
But what most travelers don’t realize is that you can simply catch the ferry across the bay on your own for just 50 cents each way. From there, taxis will be waiting to take you to the factory for a fraction of the cost of a private car service. Even after the tour admission, booking on your own still saves money in your travel budget.
Can you be more flexible when booking flights?
You already know that we deliver the best flight deals right to your inbox. But for the times that you’re searching for flights on your own, remember that a little patience can save you a lot of money.
One of our most popular tips from our guide to finding cheap flights is to remain flexible. Simply comparing prices for different travel dates and different departure airports could save you hundreds of dollars.
For instance, If you live in New York City, you may prefer to fly out of JFK on a Friday. But if you can spare the time it takes to get to La Guardia, Newark, or even Philadelphia on Tuesday, that slightly longer journey will be worth it if you’re saving $300 per ticket.
Re-shop and save on your home and auto insurance
Even if you think you’ve scored a great deal, it pays to shop around and make sure you’re not missing out on any unexpected savings. That’s the guiding principle behind how Policygenius saves homeowners an average of $1,000 per year.
Policygenius does all the heavy lifting for you. You just answer a few questions about yourself and your property, and their experts will compare your current policy against options from top companies to make sure you're getting the right coverage at the best possible price.
Click here to try Policygenius and save big in 2021!
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BY: ZACH ANDERSON, CONTENT MARKETING & FLIGHT EXPERT
Zach is a digital marketer, copywriter, and flight deal expert at Dollar Flight Club where he helps 1 million people travel more. As a digital nomad, he is deeply passionate about location independence, Thai food, and helping others see the world affordably.