What the Tech: Travel Planning
CHARLOTTE, N.C. – Planning to take a vacation sometime in 2023? Don’t wait too long. Travel experts agree that January is the best time to plan and book any vacation for the coming year. Airlines and hotels offer special rates the day after Black Friday, but travel deals can also be found during January as well. You may have noticed an increase in advertisements for Disneyworld during the first of the year.
If you’ve done all of the planning before and used popular travel websites to compare prices you may have noticed that many of those websites have almost identical prices. There’s a simple reason for that. Many of them are owned by the same company.
Expedia, owns Travelocity, Hotwire, Orbitz, Trivago, hotels.com, VRBO, and others. They’re not competitors. So prices are either exactly the same or within a few dollars of each other. Priceline doesn’t just operate its website but owns Kayak and booking.com.
So if you shop one, you basically shop them all.
Instead of going directly to one of those websites, I suggest checking out Google Travel which will not only compare them all in one place, but you can sign up for alerts when prices drop. It also has lots of tips, recommendations, and reviews from travelers. It also pulls in articles from independent websites and news sites.
Hopper is a website that offers discounts that others don’t but those discounts are for a limited time and once they’re gone, they’re gone. If you see a big price difference between these travel websites, read the fine print. Some of those discounts are offered under a no-cancellation or no-refund policy. If you cancel a trip using some of these websites you may only receive an e-credit to use later. I’ll say this though, travel websites are good for window shopping and getting an idea of what you may spend.
If you’re looking to score points with a credit card or through airlines, make sure you check there. Some airlines offer thousands of extra points by booking through them. One recent trip earned 20,000 points from Southwest Airlines.
And before booking anywhere, it’s a good idea to check with the hotel or airline directly. Some hotels, offer to match the lowest price you found online within 24 hours of the reservation. If you book directly through the hotel, you might get a perk like a free meal, voucher, or discount on tickets to special events. Those hotels pay a commission to travel websites, so they’re more likely to work with you by booking directly.
If it’s a big family vacation to Disney or another resort, it’s always a good idea to check with a travel agency they can get discounts you may not find yourself online. Do your homework, so the only way you get burned on your vacation is by not using enough sunscreen.