When I get the chance to chat with another travel enthusiast I usually ask for their favorite destinations and recommendations for places I’m planning to visit. But when I attended a packing workshop with with Jessica, Carlis, Lacey and travel professional Charles McCool, they had tips for just about everything. Charles McCool is a seasoned traveling pro so when it came time for his Q+A I took lots of notes.
Here are my favorite tips that he shared along with a few of my personal experiences.
When you’re planning a short term trip…
LOOK FOR NONSTOP FLIGHTS.
When you plan a short term trip the last thing you want to do is spend hours in transit. Booking a nonstop flights is a great way to save time and it eliminates the possibility of issues you could run into with a layover (delayed flights, etc).
SIGN UP FOR AIRFARE ALERTS IF YOU ARE BOOKING A TRIP IN ADVANCE.
Alerts straight to your inbox will help you find the best price. Airfare Watchdog is great for this, and if you haven’t chosen a destination, The Flight Deal sends out daily deals. You can also sign up for email newsletter from hotel to keep an eye out for sales rates.
JOIN A CAR LOYALTY PROGRAM.
I haven’t tried this yet, but Charles finds it helpful to join a car loyalty program if you frequently need to rent cars. Benefits include better service, like having the car waiting for you instead of having to waste time in line for a rental at the airport. You probably already belong to more loyalty programs than you can count, so keep track of your rewards with TripIt Pro.
BUSINESS HOTELS ARE CHEAPER ON THE WEEKENDS.
Another travel tip I haven’t tried yet, but Charles notes that in most cities you can find business hotel rooms at a lower rate on weekends. Makes sense, right?
When you’re planning a last minute trip…
LOOK FOR LAST MINUTE FARES IF YOUR TRAVEL IS FLEXIBLE.
If your flexible about your destination and timing, last minute fares can get you away for a steal. I like to use Skyscanner and plug in “Everywhere” to my search to find the cheapest destinations to fly to from my city and Last Minute has last minute airfare deals. You could also sign up for email newsletters from various airlines to find out about their last minute deals.
TAKE ADVANTAGE OF ALTERNATIVE LODGING.
Booking a hotel last minute can deflate your wallet pretty quickly. Instead try Airbnb which has consistent pricing (rates don’t go up when you get higher to your travel date). Hovelstay offers a variety of places to stay, especially for the more adventurous, all at under $99. Travel Zoo comes out with deals weekly (like $49/night B+B’s). Jetsetter is a luxury version of this. Some other places to take a look? Living Social, Groupon, Specialicious, couchsurfing and hostels.
FIND GOOD RESTAURANTS AND ACTIVITIES ONCE YOU ARE THERE.
You probably didn’t have much time to plan what you will do once you arrive. Charles suggests using Yelp, Opentable or Chowhound to find food recs. Some other apps that I think are great to have are Trip Advisor, City Maps to Go and Triposo. But if you don’t want to depend on a phone, try the local visitors centers or tourism groups.