OWith Memorial Day weekend now in the back window, millions of Americans still haven’t booked their summer vacation. If you’re one of them, don’t panic. There is still time to make a great deal.
The key is to have an open mind and a bit of flexibility, which a lot of people have in spades these days thanks to remote and hybrid working policies.
The smartest travel companies have taken notice, offering tools to help travelers broaden the lens and see a wider range of possibilities. More often than not, there is not only a perfectly dreamy plan B but also a plan C, D and E.
Adopt a “The world is my oyster” mindset
“People are emerging from the pandemic with real openness about where they are travelling,” says Laura Lindsay, spokesperson for Skyscanner, a travel booking engine and app with 75 million active users. “They think a lot wider and that’s really a good thing because supply and demand are what impact prices. Being open actually gives them the ability to uncover some really good deals.
Good to know: the most popular destination on Skyscanner is a search parameter called “everywhere”. When searching for flights, the traveler inserts their home airport in the “from” field. In the “to” field, an option appears to search “everywhere”. This simple trick can bring up an array of tempting – and very affordable – options well below the average cost of airfare.
For example, if you’re looking for round-trip tickets from Chicago to “everywhere” in August, options include Miami from $87, Denver from $152, and New York from $183, among many other possibilities. national. A traveler considering international travel may also find cheaper than average airfares to Portugal (from $372), France (from $451), and Australia ($1,040). To expand the options further, compare different travel months and be sure to check the boxes for “add nearby airports”.
It’s not about where to go, it’s where to stay
Earlier this month, Airbnb unveiled what it bills as the biggest change in a decade to the platform’s search function. Airbnb users can now explore more than 50 categories that group listings according to a particular interest, such as “design”, “amazing pools” or “by the lake”. Because these settings are tied to a feature rather than a specific destination, the results can open a window into an experience you might otherwise never have considered.
Setting search parameters to “lakeside” and “anywhere” for a week in August reveals a good number of waterfront bargains under $200 a night at resorts under the radar like Osage Beach, Missouri, in the heart of Lake of the Ozarks; Gilford, New Hampshire, on the shores of Lake Winnipesaukee; and Sugarcreek, Ohio, known as the “Gateway to Amish Country”.
But this is only the beginning. From railroad cars to yurts to converted grain elevators, the “OMG!” can also unearth some very cool and unusual finds that won’t break the bank, like a covered wagon at a farm near Las Vegas ($120 a night) or a windmill in Greece ($301 a night).
For people working from anywhere, Airbnb now offers “split stays,” expanding search results to make it easier to split a longer trip between two homes in the same neighborhood. Previously, a listing would remain hidden if it was unavailable for part of a search period, so this tweak alone reveals many more options for those wanting to learn about a destination from different angles.
When airlines add routes, be ready to pounce
No travel agency is obsessed with timing quite like Hopper, an app designed to determine the optimal time to book flights, which, in fact, is a moving target.
“An individual fare can change multiple times a day, let alone over the course of a few weeks before a flight,” says Hayley Berg, Hopper’s chief economist, noting that the right time to buy can change due to something also granular. such as departure airport, arrival airport, departure dates or booking dates.
Berg says several factors can drive airfares up — fuel costs, pilot shortages, travel demand — but there’s also a proven rule for predicting when and where airfares will drop.
“In concrete terms, when a low-cost carrier starts a new route from a given airport, prices drop by an average of 20% on all carriers serving this route. So if a low-cost carrier enters a route, that’s a great opportunity for travelers,” Berg says. Even better, the low-cost carrier will almost always offer promotions for the first few weeks or months they run this service.
An easy way to keep tabs on changing route maps is to monitor your home airport through the Hopper app. “Rather than doing a ton of research, you can use our tool to track a few different destinations and when there’s a price drop, you’re ready to book,” suggests Berg.