7 Ways to Save on Your Next Trip

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Here, expert tips on how to save time and money on your next vacation or business trip.

Besides surfing the web for the best deals, there are other ways to get more bang for your travel buck. Here are seven tried-and-true travel secrets that will save you both time and money.


Save time on security line-ups.

If you encounter a long security line, don’t automatically join in! Many large airports have additional screening points a little off the beaten track that are less crowded. If you plan to travel in the US, you can visit the Transportation Security Administrations website (waittime.tsa.dhs.gov) to find the location of security checkpoints at every US airport. The website also publishes average wait times by the hour. For information on Canadian airports visit Transport Canada.

Hotel sold out? Here’s how to get a room.

You’ll have better luck getting a room if you call the hotel directly instead of dialing the 800-numbers which put you through to a centralized reservation centre. Workers in the call centre don’t have the authority to manipulate a hotel’s inventory the way an on-site manager does. Another idea is to check out a reseller’s website. Most hotels give some of their inventory to third-party travel sites such as Expedia, Hotels.com and Travelocity.

Get the room upgrade – without paying a penny more.

When it comes to upgrades, timing is everything. Naturally, you’ll have a better chance of success if the hotel is slow, but it’s also important to ask for the upgrade right away, before you’re locked into the room. If you want to score a more luxurious accommodation, don’t wait for the front-desk person to hand you a key.

Instead let it be known if it’s a special occasion or if you have specific business needs. And even if you “miss the moment” at check-in, communicate any displeasure with the room you’ve been assigned. You never know — you still may get the upgrade or at least be reassigned to a more suitable room.

Making the most of your air miles.

Rule number 1: if you don’t find what you want online, talk to a live person. While you may need to pay a fee to speak with an airline reservation agent, you’ll have a greater chance of getting the flight you want. Reservation agents have access to inventory from partner inventory and can also suggest different routings using connecting flights or alternative airports.

When making your reservation, keep in mind how the system works. While most airlines make seats available 330 days in advance, frequent-flier inventory isn’t usually entered into the system that early. The best time to book frequent-flier flights is three to six months ahead of your trip.

Pay coach, fly first class.

A useful airline secret to know is that you can buy a first-class ticket for little more than the last minute coach fare. The trick is to search for a fare destination code called a “Yup” or a “Q-up”. Check out FareCompare.com which has an online tool designed to search for these special fares. While Y- and Q-ups are usually significantly more expensive than advance-purchase fares, they’re not much more than last minute coach. (For more information, see First-class seats for less.)

Upgrade your rental car for free.

Rental car companies typically overbook — and economy cars are usually the first to go. If you’re renting a car online, reserve the cheapest car available and chances are you’ll get a better car without even asking for it.

Play (and win) the bumping game.

It’s an increasingly common travel woe: getting bumped from your flight. But if your schedule is flexible, you can take advantage of the system and score free tickets and other perks in exchange for giving up your seat.

As soon as you arrive at the gate, ask if the flight is overbooked. If so, find out what the airport’s initial offer is and put your name on the volunteer list. (Being on the list doesn’t obligate you to accept the offer, but with  many airlines, it does give you right of first refusal.)

If you decide not to take the compensation package, you can either decline it and remain on your scheduled flight or wait to see if the package increases when the airline makes an offer to fellow travellers. Gate agents typically sweeten the pot until they get enough volunteers.

If you’re offered a free ticket, ask about any restrictions such as expiration or black out dates. And be sure to get a confirmed seat on the next flight. The last thing you want is to give up one seat and then get involuntarily bumped from another!

Source: Money Magazine

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