Bulletin
Investor Alert

Next Avenue

Feb. 13, 2020, 11:19 a.m. EST

Save time and money when you travel with these tips from the experts

What four experts said at the New York Times Travel Show

new
Watchlist Relevance
LEARN MORE

Want to see how this story relates to your watchlist?

Just add items to create a watchlist now:

or Cancel Already have a watchlist? Log In

By Richard Eisenberg


iStock/Getty Images
The Bahamas are open for business.

This article is reprinted by permission from NextAvenue.org .

You may be thinking about making your 2020 vacation plans right about now. Before you do, however, read below what I heard from four experts at last week’s New York Times Travel Show. During their sessions, they shared savvy advice on how to save money and time when you travel this year; how to travel more sustainably and the best places to go on vacation.

How to save on airfare, hotels, tours and currency

Getting the best deals on flights and lodging is getting harder; blame it on AI.

As Julie Weed just wrote in the New York Times, travel providers are increasingly using artificial intelligence software (known as hyperdynamic pricing) to change their prices at dizzying rates. Her story noted research from the airfare prediction app Hopper showing the average price of a domestic flight now changes 17 times in two days.

So, what’s a traveler to do?

Pauline Frommer, co-president of Frommer Media and editorial director of Frommer’s Guidebooks, said at the Times Show that  Frommer’s recent study of the best airfare search engines, aggregators and booking engines turned up a new winner for 2020: the aggregator Skiplagged.com.

“It consistently found the lowest fares,” she said. But, Frommer added, “it does so normally, and in a way I don’t approve of.”

The Skiplagged method Frommer eschews: hidden-city airfares, sometimes called skiplagging. That’s the gambit where you, say, plan to fly from New York City to Milwaukee but plan to save money by taking a flight to Chicago with a stop in Milwaukee and hopping off. Some airlines have taken action against skiplagging fliers. To use Skiplagged and get airfare deals the way Frommer prefers, “you need to uncheck the Hidden City option,” she said.

Matt Kepnes, aka “ Nomadic Matt ,” had three other online recommendations to search for flight deals: Momondo.com, Google Flights and Scott’s Cheap Flights. “Scott’s sends an email about flights from my local airport every day,” said Kepnes, who’s based in Austin. “A few years ago, I went to South Africa for $600 round trip.”

The travel gurus disagreed about whether there was a best time to book flights for the lowest fares. But Frommer offered this tip: “Don’t book too far in advance — four, five or six months before you’ll fly. If you do, the airlines know they’ve got you.” And that means they’ll charge you more than you need to pay.

For the lowest hotel rates, another Frommer study came up with another new winner. “Last time, we said Booking.com was the top hotel site,” Frommer said. “But no longer. This time, HotelsCombined.com found the best prices most consistently.” And if you find a cheaper rate after you’ve booked with a site listed there, HotelsCombined — an aggregator — will refund the difference.

Frommer also recommended Kayak.com and Booking.com for hotel deals. (Kepnes is a Booking.com fan, too, and suggests HotelTonight if you’re looking for a last-minute room. He used HotelTonight for his New York Travel Show visit, got a Courtyard room for $100 a night “and it was not a dump,” he added.)

But “you may want to book your hotel directly with the hotel,” she added. “Major hotel chains have made a promise that if you book directly through their loyalty programs, they will match and undercut any rate out there. And it’s a promise they are keeping.”

If you’re considering staying at a home rental, Frommer advised checking out Airbnb, HomeAway, Flipkey or Vrbo (it stands for Vacation Rentals by Owners) — with a caveat. “The deals aren’t as good as they used to be because of the fees they are charging,” she said. “I was looking for a place in Zanzibar and the cleaning fee doubled the cost of the night. This is happening more and more.”

Kepnes is a fan of hostels to save money on lodging.

“My mother thinks I’m crazy to stay in one,” says the 38-year-old travel expert. “When people went backpacking around the world in the ’70s, hostels were dirty, smelly cheap places to stay. Nowadays, they are really nice. Some have private bathrooms and bars and restaurants.”

What’s more, Kepnes said, you get to meet interesting people staying at the hostel and get smart, local tips from the employees. “The hostel staff is focused on budget travelers, so they tend to know what’s going on that’s cheaper or free in the city and where to eat that someone working at the W hotel might not know,” said Kepnes.

To find free opportunities when visiting a city, Kepnes said, “search ‘free things to do in x’ and you will definitely find them. He’s especially keen on free walking tours to get the lay of the land and ask questions of local guides. “Most major cities have them,” he added.

Check, too, to see if museums or galleries offer free visits during dates and times, said Kepnes.

If you’ll need to exchange dollars for local currency when traveling abroad, Angel Castellanos, aka The Travel Ambassador, and Kepnes urged avoiding airport foreign-currency cash machines.

Page 1 Page 2
This Story has 0 Comments
Be the first to comment
More News In
Retirement

Story Conversation

Commenting FAQs »

Partner Center

Link to MarketWatch's Slice.