Top travel tips: 5 ways to save money on soaring flight and hotel prices – CNBC | Gmx Pharm

1. Search for cheaper flights

Those who are strategic about saving spend 23% less on flights than those who don’t, according to a survey of budget travelers by booking site VacationRenter.

Top strategies include booking with a low-cost airline (52%), sticking to a carry-on bag (48%), using credit card points or rewards (39%), and tracking ticket prices (28%).

One in three respondents said they use apps to save money on flights. One such app, Skyscanner, allows users to set up price alerts, find flexible flight dates and nearby airports, and combine airlines to find the best prices, the site says.

Fewer are willing to sacrifice comfort and convenience by booking “red-eye” flights (25%) or choosing a more distant airport (16%).

Price alerts in apps like Skyscanner check fares so travelers don’t have to, and notify them when fares go up or down.

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Flexible travel dates are one of the best ways to score a flight deal, according to travel app Hopper. According to travel app Hopper, departing on a Wednesday instead of a Friday saves an average of about $35.

The same tactic works for hotel stays, Hopper says. If you check into a hotel for two nights on a Thursday instead of a Friday or Saturday, you can save an average of $60 off the bill, it said.

Another tactic is to keep an eye out for new routes or new flight services that reach local airports. When an airline adds a new route, competition between airlines can cause fares to drop, Hopper said. Airlines, too, often launch promotions to spread the word, it said.

That’s what happened when Frontier Airlines began service from Chicago’s Midway International Airport this summer, said Hayley Berg, Hopper’s chief economist.

“The airfare from Chicago to Tampa dropped from an average of $278 per ticket to just over $100 per ticket for departures after April 26 when Frontiers service began,” she said. “Prices for later dates recovered [about] $187 ticket, still almost $100 less than before Frontier launched.

To learn more about new fares and services, travelers “can sign up for newsletters from your local airport or airlines,” Berg said. “Also keep an eye out for press releases and signage at your local airport announcing new services.”

2. Consider a cruise

Travelers tend to have strong feelings about cruises. But heavily discounted cruise fares may be enough to convince staunch naysayers.

Since the pandemic began, some travel expenses have increased by more than 50%, according to a travel report by Visa Business and Economic Insights published in June.

However, cruise fares have remained largely unchanged, according to the report.

Four-night Carnival Cruise Line cruises in August, sailing from Los Angeles to Mexico, can be booked for $26 per night, according to booking site Prices include meals on board but exclude taxes and government fees. Once those fees are added, the cost for two people is $456 — or about $57 per person per night.

Similar offers can be found on cruises to the Bahamas, Turks and Caicos Islands and the Cayman Islands. Summer cruises to Alaska with Norwegian Cruise Line start at $58 at Priceline, exclusive fees.

In Europe, a four-night cruise to Croatia and Israel starts at $70 a night, while travelers in Asia can cruise from Singapore to Penang, Malaysia for $80 a night, according to Priceline.

In addition to discounted fares, cruise lines are throwing out other offers to lure passengers back to the seas. Royal Caribbean lets kids sail for free on select cruises, while Celebrity Cruises offers onboard credit and savings of up to $500 on airfare, according to both companies’ websites.

3. Book in new hotels

Finding hotel openings is another way to save money.

The Standard, Bangkok Mahanakhon, due to open in Bangkok on July 29, is offering a 25% discount on its Best Available Rates for those who book by August 31 through its Start with a Bang promotion.

To celebrate its launch, the Royal Uno All Inclusive Resort & Spa is cutting rates by 25% and giving guests $500 in resort credit, according to a company representative. The resort opened in Cancun, Mexico last month, according to a company representative.

New hotels often accept reservations before official opening dates, which come with discounted rates and other savings for early bookers.

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However, this strategy is not without risks, as new hotels can experience delays in opening. Cancun’s Royal Uno Hotel told CNBC that two of its restaurants, as well as the spa and gym, are not yet open, but that “management mentioned they will be open in late summer.”

Such was the case with New Zealander Debbie Wong, who booked a vacation at a luxury hotel in Cambodia set to open in early 2019.

“We had booked months in advance, but as we got closer to dates, they said they weren’t ready to open,” she said.

Because the trip coincided with the Lunar New Year, other hotels in the area were booked, Wong said.

“They then agreed to let us stay for free, with free spa treatments,” she said. “There were 200 staff just for us, another couple and some people out [the hotel’s] Headquarters.”

Wong said she believes part of the reason the hotel agreed was because she’s stayed at the brand’s sister hotels in the past.

“It was the most amazing trip we’ve ever had,” she added.

4. Cover the gas

Some hotels are directly addressing travelers’ concerns by offsetting rising gas prices.

New York’s Crowne Plaza HY36, Hotel Valencia Riverwalk in San Antonio and Little America Hotel in Flagstaff, Arizona have stays that include a $50 fuel card, while guests staying at Graduate Nashville in Tennessee have up to $100 off can be applied to their bill when they show their gas receipts at check-in.

Today’s sky-high prices are most likely a temporary response to an extreme surge in demand.

Willis Orlando

Scott’s cheap flights

5. Delay summer plans

The tip that came up the most in CNBC’s search for money-saving strategies was to postpone plans until late summer or early fall — the so-called “shoulder season.”

Travelers booking summer plans in the last two weeks of August can save an average of $120 per flight, according to Hopper.

Those with international plans who push their plans into the fall can save even more, according to email subscription service Scott’s Cheap Flights. The company directly compared flights to Europe, the Caribbean and Mexico to show how much travelers can save by postponing trips until the fall.

“It’s easy to look at sky-high summer prices and assume the days of cheap flights are over,” said Willis Orlando, the company’s senior product operations specialist.

His answer: “Not so fast.”

“Today’s sky-high prices are most likely a temporary response to an extreme surge in demand,” he said. And because of that, “there has never been a better time to plan flexibly and travel in the off-season.”

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