Priceline.com is definitely a site worth visiting when you're in the planning stages of a trip, but it's also useful once you've arrived at your destination. Along with cheap flights and hotels, you can also get deals on airport parking, ground transportation, city tours, theme parks and more.
How to do it: simply log onto priceline.com and fill out your profile. The more specific your profile, the better your chances are of finding deals that best suit you. And, yes, it's free.
2. Do the legwork to save on car rentals
The rental outlet across the street from the hotel is enticing and so easy to get to. But do some quick and easy shopping around once you arrive at your destination – or beforehand.
How to do it: Visit a car rental aggregator such as Car Rentals (carrentals.com) or Travel Ian (travel.ian.com).
3. Look into train travel
So you're spending a week in London or Paris and have decided on a mid-week day trip to a nearby city. Avoid airports and car rentals and take the train. You'll see the country and always end up in the centre of town.
How to do it: One of the best online train resources can be found at johnnyjet.com/Train-Deals.html. Here you can choose a train based on location (North America, Europe, or the "rest of the world") or by excursion type (day trips, scenic trains, foliage season routes, commuter, etc.).
4. Shop around for travel insurance
Don't automatically go with your standard insurer (the one you use for life and home insurance) unless they can give you a decent deal on travel coverage. Visit a few sites and do some comparison-shopping.
How to do it: Start by visiting Insure My Trip (insuremytrip.com) and Kanetix (kanetix.ca), both of which will give you comparison charts based on destination and number of travelers. Once you get a quote that appeals to you, you can always call up your regular insurer and see if they can match or beat the rate.
5. Check online for last-minute deals
Generally, booking ahead is cheaper, but there are sites that can help you find last minute deals, especially on car rentals.
How to do it: Visit sites such as Expedia (expedia.ca), which has a special section called "Last Minute Holiday Savings."
6. Ask for free airport pick-up
If you and your family are booking into a hotel for a week, you could have some leverage when it comes to negotiating. Airports are frequently miles away from the city centre and an airport limo or cab fare can be expensive.
How to do it: When booking your hotel, make it known that your family is looking for accommodation for the week and would they consider including airport transfer as part of the service. If they can't provide it for free, ask if they'd consider discounting the fee.
7. Courier your baggage
Ancillary fees charged by U.S.–based airlines rose to US$7.8 billion in 2009 and most of that was due to baggage fees. Some families, especially those with young children, choose to send luggage ahead by courier if it's cheaper than the airline charges. This also works if you purchase large mementoes and souvenirs while on holiday.
How to do it: Contact major courier companies, such as FedEx and Purolator, to see what their charges are. Or check out companies such as Sky Luggage (skyluggage.ca) for a comparison of what an airline will charge you for hauling home that teak coffee table.
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