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4 Ways to Buy the Cheapest Vacation Ever Online

photo by Alan Levine via Flickr

photo by Alan Levine via Flickr

Dreaming of your next vacation but dreading the cost? Booking your vacation online can save you tons of money, but only if you do it right. Knowing when to book, what to look for and how to avoid unnecessary costs can make your trip a lot more fun for a lot less money.

Shop as Early as Possible
There’s no way around it: if you want the cheapest price possible for a specific destination, you have to book early. The closer you get to departure date, the higher the prices will get. This is true both in the case of all-inclusive packages and vacations you’re organizing yourself.

Why? Well, think about it. As you get closer to the date of your trip, your choice of hotel rooms will get smaller (and chances are the cheaper rooms will sell out first) and the best flight discounts will be gone. Plus, many companies offer special discounts for booking early, and those will disappear as well.

Unless You’re Very Flexible
If you just want to get away and don’t really care where you’re going, searching for last-minute offers can save you a ton of money. Many hotels will offer rooms at a reduced price if you book a week-long stay at the last minute or if you simply show up after the normal check-in time and take whatever room is available.

The less fuzzy you are, the better your chances of this working. This means being flexible on your final destination, but also on how long you’ll be there, where you’ll sleep and what time your flights will come and go.

photo by Tomash Devenishek via Flickr

photo by Tomash Devenishek via Flickr

Skip All-Inclusive Packages (Except for a Few Key Locations)
As a general rule, all-inclusive packages are built for convenience, not to save you money. Booking your own flight, hotel and attraction tours will almost always be cheaper. Why? Well, for starters, you can play around with accommodations, changing location to a cheaper neighborhood or even going with an Airbnb apartment rather than a hotel (where you could cook your own meals and save even more money).

The exception? Packages to the Caribbean often give you access to great bargains you might have difficulty finding on your own. Plus, all-inclusive packages might be the way to go if you like to drink (many hotels include drinks in these packages), don’t want to worry about tipping after meals (remember, everything’s included) or you want to try a number of activities included in the package that would be difficult or expensive to book separately.

Look at Off-Season Options
If you have your heart set on a beach destination, going there in winter might not sound very appealing—but that doesn’t mean that late spring or early fall aren’t good options. In fact, just moving your trip a few days earlier or later might make a world of difference when it comes to cost.

Another thing to keep in mind: some travel companies (and hotels) raise their prices during special local holidays. Spring break, Easter weekend or Labor Day weekend tend to be more expensive in the US, so it makes sense that international destinations will also have their own holidays where prices go up and crowds get bigger. A little online research before booking can end up saving you quite a bit of money.

photo by Prayitno via Flickr

photo by Prayitno via Flickr

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