Travel planning: Expert tips for booking hotels and flights

From booking your plane ticket to booking your hotel, three travel experts reveal how to get the best deal on your next vacation.

Travel planning: Expert tips for booking hotels and flights
Illustration by Alice Potter/Illozzoo
The hotel aficionado
Who: Carol Perehudoff, award-winning travel writer at

Be persistent: "Never believe there are no rooms available at your favourite hotel. I get obsessive about booking trips and will occasionally (OK, frequently) wake up in the middle of the night, turn on the computer and voila, someone will have cancelled and availability will suddenly appear," says Perehudoff. "Tenacity pays off. And so does insomnia."
The constant flier
Who: John E. DiScala, editor-in-chief at

Search wider: Perfect your search engine savvy, says DiScala, who flies about 240,000 kilometres every year. "I use multiple search engines, including ITA Software, and set up flight alerts to help me find deals."

He also recommends using multiple web browsers.Have you ever seen a great deal, switched to another website, then come back to find the deal gone? The site has remembered your computer's cookies, tracking how many times you've been to the website. The result is often a raised price on a flight that you've already checked. "I used to delete my cookies, but it's so much easier to just switch from Safari to Firefox to Internet Explorer," says DiScala.

The points warrior
Who: Vanessa Chiasson, Ottawa-based travel blogger at

Do your research: Learn how to maximize your points and travel rewards by reading the fine print. Chiasson's efforts paid off when she used 80,000 Aeroplan points to book an around-the-world adventure (economy class) for less than the cost of a trip from Toronto to Vancouver. She credits's chat boards as inspiration for the trip.

"We gained a lot of knowledge from the site's community," she says. "I discovered I was allowed two en-route stopovers lasting several days in addition to my main destination, which was Sydney, Australia. Meanwhile, any time the plane touched down as part of its flight plan and departed again within 24 hours, it didn't count as a stop, just an airport layover." This allows you to make short visits to multiple cities. "When I was done, I had stopped in New York, Paris, Brussels, Bruges, Liège, Istanbul, Bangkok, Mandalay, Bagan, Yangon, Singapore, Sydney, San Francisco and Chicago. In the end, I paid a total of $350 in taxes and fees." 

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This story was originally titled "Thrifty Trips" in the July 2014 issue.
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