5 ways to find the best travel deals online

Everyone knows the age-old technique of pitting travel agent against travel agent in order to get the best travel deal.

But in the age of online travel deals, with dozens of travel agents from which to choose, and even more offering to arrange accommodation and insurance; getting the best online travel deal requires customers to smarten up and get as creative as the agents themselves.

There are a host of reasons why 2016–2017 is a great time to travel. The biggest cost behind airline travel is fuel and the cost of oil is a third of what it was a year ago. This means its very unlikely there’ll be an increase in airline prices over the next year, according to travel experts. So, given that there are savings to be had, let’s look at how you can make the most of it.

1. Airfares

The secret to getting a good online travel deal is flexibility. There are plenty of websites around that promise to find you the best deal on airfares, but Kayak remain one of the best because it incorporates this into its deals. Firstly, they allow you to be flexible with dates and times and can even predict, with some degree of confidence, whether you should buy now or if the ticket price is likely to drop. They can even suggest destinations based on your budget, travel time, preference of weather, what you like to do on your holiday and preferred time of day to fly.

Some airfare tracking sites use cookies to tell whether you’ve visited and searched for a particular fare before. This way, they can increase that fare because they know you’re keen. The website Momondo doesn’t use cookies, which means prices won’t change. Google Flights is also useful as you can type in the city from which you want to fly and it will tell you all available destinations and prices. This way you can tell which are currently cheap. Even better is The Flight Deal, a website that will quickly tell you of ‘mistake fares’ that only last for a limited amount of time before the airline fix it. Again, flexibility is the key.

2. Accommodation

One of the biggest costs associated with travel is accommodation, especially if you’re travelling last-minute or wanting to stay centrally in a big city. The rise of hospitality agencies such as AirBnB, Couchsurfing, Roomorama and Facebook groups dedicated to housing travellers has forced hotels to get creative, and that means travellers are winning. Trivago lets you compare the price of hotels, give you notifications of deals that are relevant to your travel dates and destinations.

Since most travel deals involve you doing a lot of research, it’s nice to find a place that will do that for you. While many people use the website Priceline" to bid on hotel rooms, people in the know use The Bidding Traveller which will tell you how much it bid on rooms advertised on Priceline, and the rejected bids, effectively undercutting the undercutter.

3. Points

If you travel even occasionally, or have a bank card that has an arrangement with an airline, you’ve likely got a backlog of points or air miles. Before it even comes to working out what the best online travel deal is, you need to work out what you’ve got to spend, in terms of time, money and points. Websites like Tripit and Award Wallet allow you to keep track of your points and their expiration dates, let you know of specials, keep track of reward programs and break down the cost of fares into points and dollars.

For the latest offers on earning the most points Pointshacks has an update on the latest offers that can offer the greatest return on frequent flyer points. For frequent travellers and those wishing to make the most of their programs, using one of these is indispensable for getting the best online travel deals.

4. Package deals

When it comes to getting the best online travel deal, there is a big difference between paying the least amount of money and getting value for money. Most online travel agents offer packages: flights, transport, accommodation and sometimes meals and guided tours. Unless you’re travelling for work or visiting friends, you’re likely to be wanting these services anyway, so it makes sense – especially if you’re short on time – to get them in one deal. Often these can be excellent value for money and save you a packet. They’re especially recommended for first-time travellers or those who worry about organising the logistics of a group of friends or a family. Sign up to places like Webjet Packages, Wotif Packages or Scoopon to get notified when deals go on sale.

5. Last minute travel deals

Often you just don’t have the luxury of being able to plan for your holiday. Not all the best online travel deals require planning ahead; some of them require efficiency. That’s where a site like Last Minute Travel and Overnight comes in. Overnight only allows you to book travel plans on the day of departure. This might seem crazy if you’re wanting a week in Bali, but if you suddenly find yourself with a weekend to spare, it could be just what you’re looking for. Hosts have to reply within 10 minutes.

Ready to go travelling? Make sure you consider the money saving benefits of the 28 Degrees Platinum Mastercard, the ideal travel companion with no annual or international transaction fees.

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