Top travel companies give advice to students.
Spring break season is right around the corner, a holiday that typically decimates the budgets of students.
GOBankingRates asked the biggest names in travel, including Southwest Airlines, Travelocity, Orbitz and more, for their tips on saving money at popular locales.
TRAVELOCITY: Look for non-peak days
Courtney Scott, senior editor at Travelocity, had the following advice for those traveling by air this spring break:
“Travelers looking to cut costs should look at traveling on off-peak days and during mid-to-low season,” Scott said. “Both airfare and hotel prices drop dramatically during these times. … (Additionally) avoid checking baggage which can be a fee of $25/bag or more and try to be loyal to one airline so that you can gain elite status which typically gives free upgrades, free priority boarding and free checked baggage.”
SOUTHWEST AIRLINES: Book Tues. through Sun.
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Knowing when the deals run will also greatly benefit you, said Lisa Tiller, spokeswoman for Southwest.
“Southwest typically offers fare sales each week from Tuesday through Thursday,” she said. “Availability is always limited, though, so just because a low sale fare is available on Tuesday does not necessarily mean it will still be available on Thursday. Every once in a while we will surprise our customers with an offer on an ‘off’ day, such as our St. Patrick’s Day weekend 25 percent off fare saver that ran Saturday through Sunday.”
PRICELINE: Bid on the best deal
If the day and time of your departure is flexible, you can try bidding with Priceline’s Express Deals to cut up to 40 percent off published fares. “The trade-off is you agree to fly on any major airline that accepts your bid, your trip can depart anywhere between 6 a.m. and 10 p.m. (so you have to allot one day for travel each way), and you may have one connection each way,” explained Priceline.com’s travel editor, Brian Ek.
TRIPADVISOR: Check room prices in real time
When it comes to your spring break lodging, there are a number of ways you can save money without forgoing a quality room. Julie Cassetina, senior public relations specialist at TripAdvisor, tipped us off to the site’s comparison tool.
“It allows users to see real-time hotel room prices and availability from TripAdvisor booking partners, all on one page,” Cassetina said. Use it to compare hotel rates, find a price in your range and book your trip without having to leave the page.
HOTELS. COM: Choose the path less traveled
According to Hotels.com, an easy way to save money is by avoiding most popular destinations.
“Mexican cities continue to rise in popularity,” said Taylor L. Cole, travel expert for Hotels.com. “Cancún/Riviera Maya is the sixth most popular international destination for Americans. Additionally, Mexico City and Vallarta are go-to cities for both domestic and international travelers during spring break and year-round. Travelers looking to break away from the crowds this spring break should consider our picks for an off-the-beaten-path value.” Hotels.com’s list included Lexington, Ky., Branson, Mo., Raleigh, N.C., and Mobile, Ala., for hotel stays below $100.
SMARTERTRAVEL: Join a hotel rewards program
Frequent travelers who are loyal to a particular hotel brand can save big and earn extra perks by joining a hotel rewards program.
“Hotel resort fees — which could including anything from parking and gym access to beach chairs — will continue to plague travelers this year,” said Anne Banas, executive editor of SmarterTravel.com. “The best way to avoid them is to join the hotel’s loyalty program; hotels will often waive the fees for its most loyal guests.”
If you’re not a rewards member, Banas said it never hurts to ask for the fee to be removed, especially if you’re not going to use the amenities.
TRAVELSQUIRE: Bundle your trip
Rather than booking a flight, hotel and car separately, look for package deals that cut the overall cost of your trip. Jeff Greif, editor-in-chief of TravelSquire.com, said this is a great way to cut costs over spring break. “Look for companies that package airfare with hotels (and sometimes meals), which can be a very affordable way to pay for a vacation. Ask about transfers, too, as they can be packaged in. Try to include as much as possible in one price.”
ORBITZ: Buy tickets ahead of time
You’ve done all the prep work, so don’t break your travel budget by waiting until the last minute to buy tickets to attractions.
“Whether you’re heading to Disney or hitting the slopes in Colorado, you can save money by purchasing tickets to parks, attractions or ski resorts in advance and online,” said Jeanenne Tornatore, senior editor for Orbitz.com. “Event sites like Orbitz.com sell tickets — and in many cases at a discount — to the full price you’ll pay once you reach your destination. Also, always consider if you’ll be using multiday tickets, which are cheaper than purchasing each day separately.”
CHEAPOAIR: When in doubt, Vegas
“The average spring break age group is 18-34, so based on the demographics, people are searching more for extremely discounted airfares and moderate hotel costs,” said Tom Spagnola, SVP of supplier relations for CheapOair. “Las Vegas is always a ‘hot spot’ for the younger crowd looking for a great place to have fun but still have cheap airfare.”