Use popular web sites and social media to travel the world this summer.
With August already here, it’s time to take that summer trip. But don’t go broke doing it. Social media and the web can be gold mines when it comes to saving money and finding great ideas. At jetsetter.com, five-star resorts and hotels go for half their usual rate. The Daios Cove in Creete, Greece, with spectacular mediterranean views and its own private beach — with waiter service — has rooms for $249 a night. The same price at the ritzy Hotel Punta Islita in Costa Rica.
Here are tips on getting you web travel savvy before summer is over:
- Get your systems locked down. Choose a preferred airline, hotel chain and car rental agency …and stick with them. You’ll be surprised how fast you earn free trips and upgrades. Sites like Points.com and AwardWallet let you manage all your rewards programs in one place. And remember, one of the fastest ways to chalk up rewards fast is to use a credit card associated with an airline for everything. Get more from your purchases than what you pay for.
- Identify your go-to travel sites and social tools. Some of the more popular travel sites are kayak.com, expedia.com, travelocity.com, hotels.com,cheaptickets.com, airfarewatch.com and priceline.com. Don’t forget your preferred airline’s site too as they often offer great vacation packages to frequent fliers. Some visitors to united.com earlier this month found round trip flights to Hong Kong for only four frequent flier miles and $33 in taxes. These lucky fliers had a computer glitch to thank.
- When you discover your favorite web site, follow it on Twitter. With a little more searching, find deals local to you by simply adding “@” to an airport’s three-letter abbreviation. So if you’re in San Francisco, search for “@SFO” on Twitter. Add a hashtag ‘#’ in front of your favorite travel destination and look for deals in Chicago, for example, by searching ‘#Chicagodiscounts’, or for Vancouver, use ‘#Vancounverhoteldiscounts’.And like everything, travel sites have gone mobile. Priceline’s “Hotel Negotiator app, available only on the iPhone, lets you book last-minute hotels at super-cheap rates and Zite — very popular on ipads and smartphones — features great travel articles as well as blogs of world travelers. Customize it for articles, or just browse and find the most wonderful, obscure ideas.
- Be ready for the last-minute deal. Sometimes the best vacations are very last minute. Craig Shishido, co-founder of the San Francisco-based spa “Gentle Star”, says there’s real relaxation that comes from travel. His trick is to do multiple flight searches at once and compare various prices in real time. “The same airline will often post different prices on different web sites for the exact same trip.” Craig also suggest setting up alerts for cities interesting to you so when there’s a significant price cut, you’ll get an alert.
- Always cross check. Once you’ve found your itinerary, see what others are saying by going to sites such as tripadvisor and yelp. Here, Craig suggests searching for unique travel experiences — whether it’s a Korean scrub massage or tips for your first time in Istanbul. Adds Craig, “If you get bored, just look up the hot spots and see what people are saying.”Now use the web once you’re traveling. On tripcase.com, you can see your entire trip including flights (whether they’re on time, the gates), hotel and car rental info. Use tripit.com to forward confirmation emails from airlines, hotels and more, and the app will instantly organize it all into a single itinerary to view on your phone.There’s no time to waste!
Try searching for your summer trip now using the web and social media, and beat the Autumn discounts. Share your ideas on what you’ve used on the Web and social media tips to find cheap — and interesting — travel!