BUDGET TRAVEL BLOG

How to Get Luxury 5-Star Hotel Deals

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Travel is an industry that sells you temporary luxury. It's why a one-week vacation for a family of four costs the same as their monthly at home cost of living. Fortunately, the price of attaining luxury can vary substantially, and high end resorts rarely change the same rates across the board for the same rooms. Whether you want to stay at the Four Seasons, the Fairmont, Ritz Carleton, or the Mandarin Oriental, here are proven ways you can snag great luxury hotel deals. 


Over Water Bungalows
If over water bungalows have been beyond your financial reach, you need to know about the AVANI Sepang Goldcoast Resort. Just 10 minutes from the Kuala Lumpur airport, these over water bungalows go for as little as $83 U.S./night ($102CDN). In the screenshot below you can see this fare in my search result which is accompanied with over 5,000 reviews and a 7.2/10 guest satisfaction rating.


If you love this deal, but aren't keen on going to Kuala Lampur, PriceOfTravel.com compiled a list of the worlds's 28 cheapest over water bungalows with the bulk of them being in the Maldives, Malaysia, and the closest one to North America being in Panama. View the full list here.


Luxury Downtown Hotels
Looking for a metropolitan experience? Luxury hotels located near convention centres routinely offer discounted blocks of rooms for conference goers, with the best luxury hotel deals being for conferences attracting high net worth professionals (i.e.: executives, lawyers, doctors, dentists, entrepreneurs).

Now you never heard the next part from me, but you can get these discounts even if you aren't attending the conference. Of course, your stay has to be during the conference dates to qualify, but all you need to do is call the hotel, say you will be attending the conference, and say the conference quoted you the group rate you saw on their website, and that they told you to call to book your room. 

How to Find Group Discounts at Luxury Hotels:
1. Lookup the upcoming events at the city's biggest convention center. For example, here is the list of upcoming events at the Colorado Convention Center in Denver:


2. Look for conferences that attract high net worth professionals. For example, I'm going to select the Rocky Mountain Dental Convention, and you can see the convention center has a link to the conference website which I'm going to click:


3. Once on the conference website, lookup the section for exhibitors, and it almost always has a tab with accommodation options: 


4. This is where you will find the discounted conference rates. In this case:

  • 36% OFF at the Four Seasons ($235 v.s. $368 standard rate)
  • 23% OFF at the Hyatt Regency ($199 v.s. $259 standard rate)


5. To book a room at these discounted fares, you need to book you room direct with the hotel:
  • If the conference posted a discount code, use that code on the hotel's website when booking your reservation.
  • If no discount code was posted, call the hotel, say you will be attending the conference, and that you were told to call the hotel to get a room at the conference group rate.

* Before you Do This: Every conference agreement is unique, and you will occasionally run into unexpected roadblocks. But with the sheer volume of conferences taking place in every big city, you will occasionally snag better luxury hotel deals using this hack than with other strategies.


Hidden Luxury Hotel Deals
Before you book any luxury hotel, always compare the price you found to Priceline which sometimes offers deeper discounts than other websites. You will often get a better fare for a 5-star hotel in the same area as the one you were considering. The catch is, Priceline does not reveal the exact hotel until you pay a non-refundable booking. This isn't as crazy as it may sound, as Priceline does reveal: 

  • City name and area of town (i.e.: Central Park South, NYC)
  • Hotel category (i.e.: 5-stars)




Keep the 3rd Party Commissions for your 5-Star Room
Anytime you book a room on a third party website, that website earns a third party booking fee from the hotel which can add up to as much as 30% of your fare. Hotels choose not to undercut these websites because it boosts their profits for direct bookings, and it inflates all hotel costs across the board. 

To get a cut of this booking fee, hotel booking websites Triphop.com and TRVL.com split the commission they receive from hotels with you. Better yet, they disclose how much you will get in your search result, which can be upward of 10 - 20% of your room rate:

This Triphop.com listing at the 5-star Park Hyatt Dubai offers $102.39 in cash back (18.5% of the total fare) for a 3-nigh stay.


Cities with Cheapest 5-Star Hotels

This study by PriceOfTravel.com ranks 104 cities with the least expensive 5-star resorts in the world. Number 1 on the list is Kuta which in the outskirts of Bali, Indonesia, with 5-star hotels going for as little as $24/night. Kuta overtook Phuket which dropped from the top spot to number 4.

As incredible as this deal is, you might not be willing to fly to Bali for it. Here's what you can do instead:
  1. Start at the top of this list of cities with the world's cheapest 5-star hotels.
  2. Scroll down until you find a destination you'd like to visit. That is where you should take your next 5-star escape.
  3. To deepen your discount, leverage the above mentioned hacks using Priceline, conference discounts, and/or collect 3rd party booking commissions.

Luxury Furnished Condos

How does two hours of your time sound in return for upwards of 50% OFF a fully furnished condo for a 3 or 4 day stay? I routinely stay in furnished condos at deep discounts in return for attending timeshare sales presentations - and often leave with freebies which have included dining vouchers, discounts on excursions, hotel gift cards, and it's even how I got my DVD player!

Two ways to get invited to a timeshare sales presentation
  1. IntervalWorld.com has a list of vacation ownership companies you can browse. These websites often post deals on their homepage, and you can contact them directly to book your ownership presentation.
  2. Timeshare companies also exhibit at consumer travel and vacation shows where they have contests you can sign-up to. Although I've never won a prize this way, I always get a follow up call offering me a discounted stay at their resort if I agree to attend their ownership sales presentation. 
Once you book your ownership sales presentation, watch this video for details on what to expect, and how to navigate the presentation to not buy anything.


5-Star Hostels

Before you frown at the mention of hostels in a luxury travel article, meet HostelGeeks.com co-founder and world traveler Matt Kiefer who may be the world's most hosteled person. In every major city, Matt found the best, swankiest and classiest hostel, ranking it as a '5-Star Hostel. "From roof-top swimming pools, to stunning set-ups in former wineries and art galleries, we have certified one amazing hostel in almost every major world city" Matt says. His acclaimed list of 5-star hostels includes Captain Coconuts located in Gilli Air, Indonesia (picture below). Click here to see a video of the hostel:

                 

Leverage Strategies to Multiply your Savings
The following video shows how I got 60% OFF at the Fairmont Chateau Laurier by leveraging a corporate rate I was entitled to, with gift cards I got from from Costco and a BMW test drive:


Summary on Getting Luxury Hotel Deals

Unlike most luxury travel articles that tell you where to stay, this article empowers you to find luxury hotel deals anywhere in the world. This is your 'how-to' guide for planning 5-star luxury vacations online, and is sure to land you lavish digs at enviable rates.


Here's to Toasting in Luxury Hotel Lounges!


P.S.: If you do this, consider accessing Triphop.com via a link within this article. I earn a small commission at no cost to you, enabling me to offer free content without any ads.



Once feeling unable to afford to travel, Russell Hannon uses lean principles to travel at a fraction of the going rate. He has been featured on CNBC, FOX, CBS, America Tonight, CTV, CBC, Around the World Travel TV and nationally broadcast lifestyle and personal finance shows. He also wrote 'Stop Dreaming Start Traveling: The Ultimate Guide to Traveling More and Spending Less' available at StopDreamingStartTraveling.com.


FREE GUIDE: Download 'Beat the best Online Fare - Every Time, Every Flight at BreakTheTravelBarrier.com  

Pocket Commissions When Booking Your Hotel

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Do you book direct with hotels to avoid paying third party booking fees? If so, I hate to break the news that you still pay these fees even when booking direct. 

That's because hotels bake the cost of commissions they pay to third party websites (i.e.: Expedia, Priceline, Hotels.com) into their rack room rate. This is one reason fares posted by hotels are not lower than those offered on third party websites, but there are other factors...

Third party websites would go broke if they charged more than the hotels themselves for the same rooms. The reason hotels do not undercut these websites is they get a lot of business from these websites they would not otherwise get. So it's in the hotel's best overall interest to keep prices at par.

Difference between booking direct v.s. a third party:

   Commissions Loyalty Rewards 
 When Booking Direct  Hotel bakes 3rd party commission costs into room rates  Entitled to points per the chain's loyalty program
 Booking via 3rd Party  Website gets a commission from the hotel  Not entitled to points when booking via 3rd party websites



Earn Commission When Booking Your Hotel

Triphop.com splits with you the booking commissions they receive from hotels for your hotel booking. Although commission amounts vary by hotel, you can realistically get 10 - 12% of your room cost back as I did while visiting Colorado Springs:



Cash back payouts of 10% or more are hands down better value than what the top loyalty programs offer, which is 1 free night for 10 nights paid. If a 10% incentive isn't enough to sway you, Triphop.com rewards are paid in cash, whereas points offered through loyalty programs limit your redemptions to rooms within their chain and catalogue items. 


 

 
Business Travelers

If you travel for work on the company dime, book your hotel on  Triphop.com using your personal credit card, then claim those expenses for reimbursement from your company. Since Triphop.com releases your cash reward to your Triphop.com account upon checkout, you get 10% or more of the cost of a room you didn't pay out of pocket for. 



Cheers to earning commission when booking your hotel!

P.S.: If you do this, consider accessing Triphop.com via a link within this article. I earn a small commission at no cost to you, enabling me to offer free content without any ads.



Once feeling unable to afford to travel, Russell Hannon uses lean principles to travel at a fraction of the going rate. He has been featured on CNBC, FOX, CBS, America Tonight, CTV, CBC, Around the World Travel TV and nationally broadcast lifestyle and personal finance shows. He also wrote 'Stop Dreaming Start Traveling: The Ultimate Guide to Traveling More and Spending Less' available at StopDreamingStartTraveling.com.


FREE GUIDE: Download 'Beat the best Online Fare - Every Time, Every Flight at BreakTheTravelBarrier.com  

Dream Honeymoons that Don't Break the Bank

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If you are getting married,
a survey of 2,000 newlyweds suggests you may be more excited about your honeymoon than the wedding itself!

  • 67% look forward to the honeymoon MORE than the wedding.
  • 84% would skimp on their wedding if it meant a fancier honeymoon

CNN Money found the average wedding costs $28K. When you consider many newlyweds are early in their careers where salaries aren’t as high as they one day will be, it’s no surprise many feel they may need to scale back on their honeymoon.

Truth is... you don’t need to toss your budget out the window to have a dream honeymoon, nor do you need to skimp on your wedding to make it economical.

CLICK HERE to see me on Breakfast TV discussing ways to have a Dream Honeymoon that doesn’t break the bank, or read on for extra details below:

                                           


Agreeing on a Destination
A fun way to narrow your list of honeymoon destinations is to have your
fiancé and yourself try
this Honeymoon & Romantic Survey and share your results. The survey suggests honeymoon destinations that align to your travel type.

Registries
Wedding registries were traditionally used to help newlyweds settle into their new home. Today, couples live together long before they get married, and already have pots, pans, toasters and blenders.

Instead, use your registry to fund your honeymoon. 
Honeyfund.com for example is a crowdfunding platform specializing in honeymoons and you might have seen this website on Shark Tank where Shark Kevin O’Leary invested in the company.                                


W
hat's great about Honey Fund is that it enables you to extend your reach beyond your wedding party to everyone in your social network. Their biggest success story comes from a Chicago couple who funded a full year trip-around-the-world for their honeymoon.

There is no charge to setup a basic crowdfunding profile, but you can add some bells and whistles to your profile for a small fee. Honey Fund retains a small percentage of the donations made a service fee which is how they make their money. (Of course, if Kevin O’Leary is investing, they must be making money).

In Canada, you can setup a honeymoon registry with 
FlightCentre.ca you can use toward a Flight Centre vacation (Click here for registry details). People can donate to your registry online, by phone, and at any Flight Centre store:

 

Inexpensive 5-Star Resorts
When it comes to destinations, this Price of Travel survey ranked the top 100+ cities with the least expensive 5-star resorts, and ranked Bali, Indonesia at the top of the list. With lavish 5-star resorts available for as little at $24/night U.S. Bali is a place where you can have 5-star accommodations on a 2-star budget.

Consider Low Currency Countries
Whatever you want to get out of your honeymoon, look for destinations that offer those things in low currency countries.

Let’s say you want to go to the tropics, much of the Caribbean is pegged to the U.S. dollar. Alternatively, South East Asia has just as amazing tropical islands and counties there have the lowest valued currencies of any place you will visit in the world. In Vietnam, the U.S. dollar will earn you 15K Vietnamese Dong which has miles of white sandy beaches and rock formations similar to those you will find in Thailand.

For more ways to stretch your travel dollar in low currency countries, 
CLICK HERE to see me share my favorite Inexpensive Alternatives to Top U.S. Travel Destinations on Breakfast TV.

Leverage your Wedding Costs to Fund your Honeymoon
I often preach you can multiply your savings by using leverage. So what can newlyweds leverage? The cost of the wedding of course! Some online retailers offer big time travel points (as many as 15 points per dollar spent) to lure you from brick-and-mortar stores. You can buy almost anything you need for a wedding online from rings, dresses, invitations, photo albums and even flowers.

To see which online stores have the best promotions, you can browse point promotions at
EVreward.com:

                                                                

 This is how I learned that a few times a year, shop.ca offers 15 Aeroplan points per dollar spent:
                              

 
By purchasing 10K of wedding expenses during this promotion, you will earn 150K points, enough for two economy round trip tickets anywhere in the world. Shop.ca does not announce these promotions in advance, so the best way to keep current is to sign up to their newsletter, and you will get an email notifying you of every promotion.

Credit Card Travel Benefits
All travel is booked online so you have to have a credit card. Since major travel operators all partner with credit cards that offer travel benefits, you can use these benefits offset your honeymoon expenses.

My favorite credit card benefit for honeymooners is the Companion Pass that entitles you to bring a guest with you on one a round-trip flight every year. Terms and conditions vary by card, but the companion pass generally requires you to pay a fixed rate to redeem it, it usually only applies to economy fares, and does not cover surcharges or taxes.

Cards with Companion Pass Benefits:
  • The Delta SkyMiles Platinum and Reserve cards (U.S.) have a hefty $195 annual fee, but come with a plethora of travel benefits including a free annual companion pass, free checked bag, priority boarding and discounts on in-flight purchases.
  • Alaska Airlines has credit cards with Visa (U.S.) and MBNA (Canada) come with an annual companion pass you can redeem for $121.
  • Westjet RBC World Elite Master Card (Canada): Companion fare varies from $99 in Canada and Continental U.S. to $399 to for London.
  • Lufthansa Premier Miles & More Barclaycard Mastercard (U.S): comes with an annual companion pass benefit for round-trip flights crossing the Atlantic. A weekend surcharge fee may apply. CLICK HERE for full details.
                                   

For more information about credit card travel benefits, CLICK HERE and scroll down to ‘Credit Card Sign-Up Bonuses.’

Indulge Selectively
Take a moment to think about what you are willing to compromise, so you don’t need to skimp on what you want most. In other words, pinch your budget where it doesn’t hurt, so that you don’t need to pinch it where it does.

Finally – Don’t forget to mention it’s your honeymoon! People tend to soften up when they know it’s your honeymoon, and you might just return to your room to find a complimentary bottle of bubbly and chocolates.


CLICK HERE to see me on Breakfast TV in Montreal discussing ways to have a Dream Honey Moon that Doesn’t Break the Bank: 

                                      

Once feeling unable to afford to travel, Russell Hannon uses lean principles to travel at a fraction of the going rate. He has been featured on CNBC, FOX, America Tonight, CBS, CTV, CBC, the National Post, Around the World Travel TV and nationally broadcast lifestyle and personal finance shows.

He is also the author of amazon.ca Budget Travel #1 Best Seller ‘Stop Dreaming Start Traveling: The Ultimate Guide to Traveling More & Spending Less' available at
stopdreamingstarttraveling.com


FREE GUIDE: Download 'Beat the Best Online Fare - Every Time, Every Flight' at breakthetravelbarrier.com.

Top Travel Planning Guide: Save Time and Money Without Skimping

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Did you return from your last trip to a scary credit card bill? Are you holding off on booking your dream trip due to the cost? Do you have safety concerns about traveling abroad?

If any of this resonates, you are in the perfect place because you are getting the ultimate travel planning resource - front row access to my New York Times and Travel & Adventure Show talks:

   - Expecting the Unexpected - Planning Ahead for When Disaster Strikes
   - 99 Ways to Cut Your Travel Costs - Without Skimping.
Watch the first 5 minutes of this talk below:

          

To see my full talk, sign up for Travel Tips at BreakTheTravelBarrier.com (see screenshot below). Within 24 hours, you will get an email with the presentation:

                    

If you missed the highlights of my U.S. tour on my Facebook or Twitter pages, here they are with video of my New York times Travel Show panel talk:

Chicago
My first trip of the year was to the windy city which was also the first stop of my U.S. tour. When staying in hotels, I prioritize chains that include Wi-Fi and a continental breakfast in the base fare. These tend to be 3-star hotels like the Best Western Plus, Holiday Inn Express, Home2Suites by Hilton, and Embassy Suites (which is where I stayed in Chicago) gets bonus points for having an open bar and free snacks every evening from 5:30 - 7:30pm.

This was my first talk of the tour, so I stopped by the travel show a day early to do a test run:


                                 

I took advantage of the unseasonably warn mid-January weather to explore the city, using Uber to get from my airport area hotel to the Bean:
                             


Our Uber driver took extra time to show us his favorite sights. We had lunch at 
Gino's East which is legendary for deep dish pizza, then we rode the ferris wheel on the Navy Pier, and took in this amazing view from atop the John Hancock Center:



Manhattan
I landed in New York City a few days early to enjoy the city, and arrived to find this article in the New York Times about my speaking engagement and book signing.

It's no coincidence that travel shows take place in mid-winter. Lucky for me, New York was also having unseasonably warm, and I took full advantage to jog in Central Park:



I also walked to the Lincoln Center to see Romeo and Juliette - en francais:




To cut  my accommodation costs, my friend and Marriott Vacation Club owner Travel Coach Chris referred me to a Marriott ownership presentation that I attended in return for discounted accommodations. The property was under renovation, so after my three nights there, I was ready to move to the Marriott Marquis which is usually beyond my budget, but is the New York Times Travel Show's partner hotel. Here is the priceless view from my room:



The big day! As I arrived at the Jacob Javits Center, the size and scale of everything was imposing:
  
 

Here we are for our panel discussion 'Disaster Prevention - Planning Ahead for When Disaster Strikes.' From left to right in the picture below are:

- Lee Abbamonte, the youngest American to visit every country in the world (Cassandra De Pecol has since claimed to have beat that record doing it by the age of 27).
- Kelly Walton with the Center for Disease Control.
- Karen Christensen, Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Overseas Citizen Services.
- To the far right, fortunate to be in the company of these amazing people is me! :D




Click any question to watch me answer it:

1. "What do you recommend to those traveling on a budget? And what would you say to those who feel they cannot afford travel insurance?" 

2. "Tell us a story of an unexpected disaster you had while abroad."

3. "What do travelers commonly overlook when planning a trip?"

4. "What's your top travel safety tip?" 

After our panel talk, I was whisked away to my book signing where I was humbled to find a line of people waiting for me with a copy of my book already in hand.

Although I have been to New York City half a dozen times, I had never been up the Empire State Building. So after my book signing, we went up to watch the sunset. When we got to the top, we ran into non-other than King Kong himself!:


                                                    

San Francisco Bay Area
As mild as the east coast winter was, it cannot compare to California's sunny skies and palm trees. Little did I know, the day I landed in San Jose was the first sunny day in more than two weeks. The night before my appearance, I strolled over to the Santa Clara Convention Center and snapped this picture with Levis Stadium in the background:



I set a day aside for a day trip to a Redwood forests, and when I arrived at the entrance to Castle Rock State Park, I couldn't believe the park entrance was barricaded, and that I was handed this leaflet:



So I continued driving West on highway 17 to Santa Cruz, and was again stunned to see the east bound lanes closed due to a landslide. When I finally got to the coast, I literally melted as I sat on the beach watching surfers in the distance before snapping a picture of this sunset:


Las Vegas
I had 6 days to kill between my Bay area and Los Angeles travel appearances, so I flew to Las Vegas for some rest and relaxation (yes really!). I got 3 FREE nights at the Hilton Vacation Club for attending a timeshare sales presentation. The way it worked is that I paid $200 up front, which was credited back to my account after attending the presentation. This was the second ownership presentation in three weeks, but I have become accustomed to how they work. To learn how to survive a timeshare sales pitch, watch this video.

I spent my last evening in Vegas strolling the strip when I spontaneously went up the Eifel Tower and captured this stunning 360 degree panoramic video of the strip:


Los Angeles
The clear desert sky had me all forget about California's endless rain, that is until I landed in it at LAX. I had a commitment in Santa Barabara during my visit, and my drive there was thrown into a hiatus when a landslide came down on the 101 Freeway northbound as I was driving there. Here is a picture I took during the hour I spent stuck in traffic:



Despite the setback, I was determined to make it, and the kind folks at the Ventura Visitors Information Center showed me a back road to get from Ventura to Santa Barbara via Lake Casitas in the mountains. It was not without it's challenges, but 5 hours after leaving Encino, I made it to Santa Barbara (usually a 1.5 hour drive) and took this picture adjacent to the waterfront:




Show Time!
 The next day, I was back in Los Angeles, and it was a thrill to speak at the Travel and Adventure Show where I was the last speaker of the day. Here are the first 5 minutes of '99 Ways to Cut Your Travel Costs - Without Skimping':

          

To see the full presentation, sign up for Travel Tips at BreakTheTravelBarrier.com (see screenshot below). Within 24 hours, you will get an email with a link to the presentation:

                     

The Los Angeles Convention Center is attached to the Staples Center, and as my book signing wrapped up, an L.A. Kings game was starting. By the time I made it to the box office, the first period was nearly over, and I got a $133 ticket 15 rows from the ice for just $66. Here is a picture I took from my seat:




Philadelphia
The city of brotherly love was the last stop of my speaking tour where I was took the stage twice, moderating a Travel Planning and Safety panel discussion in addition to my '99 tips' talk.

I had the pleasure of getting to know Orlando Rivera, who handles expedited passport requests at the Philadelphia passport office, and Henry Hand who has worked at a number of embassies around the world. Both men are a wealth of knowledge on everything travel safety, how to manage your passport, and about what resources are available to you when encountering a crisis abroad. They have incredibly interesting stories, and were a ton of fun to speak with.
Click Here to read a Philadelphia Sun article about our panel discussion.

After the travel show, we did what every visitor to Philadelphia needs to do, and that was head over to Spataros in Reading Terminal Station for Philly Cheese Steak sandwiches:




Then it was time to head home. I love how the train connects directly from the beautiful 30th Street Station picture below) to PHD ($8 one-way):



These 5 travel shows attracted more than 100K travelers combined. In every city, people came to me to share how I was their favorite speaker, and that the savvy tips, tricks, steals and deals I divulge are invaluable. 

Once you see
'99 Ways to Cut Your Travel Costs - Without Skimping', it will be the single biggest influence on your ability to save money traveling, and I'm sure it will save you a bundle on your upcoming trips.

To watch it, sign up to my Travel Tips newsletter at
Breakthetravelbarrier.com. Within 24 hours, you will get an email with a link to the presentation:



*PS: Your family and friends will love you even more than they already do once you share this with them.


WANT MORE?
 Get my FREE GUIDE 'Beat the Best Online Fare - Every Time, Every Flight' at BreakTheTravelBarrier.com 


Once feeling unable to afford to travel, Russell Hannon uses lean principles to travel at a fraction of the going rate. He has been featured on CNBC, FOX, CBS, America Tonight with Kate Delaney, CTV, CBC, Around the World Travel TV and nationally broadcast lifestyle and personal finance shows. He is the author of 'Stop Dreaming... Start Traveling: The Ultimate Guide to Traveling More & Spending Less' available at
StopDreamingStartTraveling.com.




Beat the System when Booking Travel Online

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The most daunting part of booking a trip online is the overwhelming number of options to choose from. Truth is, it's hard to know where to turn to find the best fares, and once you finally find a good deal, you may later return to your computer to find the price has since increased. This can happen due to a number of reasons:

1. Low fares are restricted to a set number of bookings, and if they all get booked between the time you run your search to the time you return to your computer, your price is going to jump.

2. Anything a website knows about you can be used to assume your purchasing power and intentions. Websites often have macros that manipulate your search results based on your demographics. For example:

·     If you logon to the website, it will know everything you have entered and done on that site.

·     If cookies are enabled on your PC, the website can see your search history on their site.

·     Websites can see what operating system you are using. Some may assume users of certain operating systems are be willing to pay more (or less) than others and could manipulate prices according to those assumptions.

Any demographic based price adjustments are likely to be in small dollar amounts, but if you are determined to conduct your search in stealth mode, I recommend not logging onto the website prior to running your search, delete cookies on your PC, and run your search from two computers with different operating systems.

CLICK HERE to hear what Kevin O'Leary from Shark Tank and I have to say about this on Toronto News Talk 1010.

                                                              

Out-Negotiate the Priceline Negotiator
Bidding websites like Priceline allow you to bid how much you are willing to pay for a hotel room. The way these websites work is they require your credit card information before you submit your bid, and if it is accepted, your card is automatically charged a non-refundable booking. What you don't know is that if you bid more than the base rate, Priceline splits the difference 50/50 with the hotel.

There is a secret way to get around this. Instead of using your credit card, use a pre-paid Visa card with a small balance (i.e. $2). If your bid is accepted, you will get a pop-up window saying your credit card could not be charged (as it has insufficient funds). You can then lower your bid, and keep lowering it until it is finally rejected. You now know the lowest acceptable bid and can book your room using your credit card at that base fare and not a penny more.


                       

Best Time to Book Flights for Best Fares

I truly believe there are too many moving parts to pin down a one-size fits all best time to book travel online. Luckily, there are incredibly powerful tools you can use that crunch historical data related to the specific flight you want to take and can show you the best price you can get now, whether the price is likely to rise or drop, when and by how much.

You can do this using a free App called
Hopper, and you can also use Kayak's Airfare Predictor. Bear in mind, as with financial investments, past performance is not necessarily reflective of future returns, but it's always good to have historical data on-hand when making your decision.

What if a Better Fare Arises After I Book? 

·    For flights, airlines allow you to cancel reservations within 24 hours of booking. Once that grace period ends, high change fees tend to offset any cost savings you would get from changing your original flight. 

·    Hotel rooms booked through a travel agent or directly with a hotel tend to have better terms, often allowing you to cancel with no penalty as late as 6pm on check-in day. Anytime you find a good fare, try to book it under these terms to lock-in that rate. If something better comes along, you can simply cancel your existing reservation and rebook at the lower fare.

·    Some websites constantly search for better fares after you book, and alert you when they find lower fares for an identical itinerary. Tingo.com (for hotels) and Autoslash.com (for car rentals) do this and allow you to cancel your existing reservation and rebook at the lower fare.

Last year, 22-year old college student Aktarer Zaman made international headlines after launching skiplagged.com, a website that shows you how to fly cheaper by booking indirect flights that connect through your destination city where you can simply hop-off the plane. If you try this:

·     Carry on all your luggage as checked-bags will go on to the final destination. 

·    Book a one-way flight because anytime you miss a leg of a flight, all subsequent legs are automatically cancelled and are ineligible for refund or credit.

I first learned about this in 2013 when my friend Adam showed me he could fly cheaper to Houston by booking a flight to New Orleans connecting in Houston and hopping off, than it would cost to book a flight destined to Houston.

Are the savings worth the time it takes it takes to do these things?  
Everything boils down to time vs. money. If you can afford to take a trip, you might not feel the time spent is worth the possible savings. But if it makes the difference between being able to afford a trip or not going, it's well worth the effort.

Regardless of whether I save $500, $5 or nothing at all, I am willing to try any strategy that can save me money regardless of affordability. Often those who can afford a trip are the ones who overpay. In fact, knowing HOW to save money is more powerful that HOW MUCH you may save on one specific trip, as you can apply the principles for every trip.



CLICK HERE to hear me talk about all this and more on CBC.

Once feeling unable to afford to travel, Russell Hannon uses lean principles to travel at a fraction of the going rate. He has been featured on CNBC, FOX, CBS, America Tonight, CTV, CBC, Around the World Travel TV and nationally broadcast lifestyle and personal finance shows. He also wrote 'Stop Dreaming Start Traveling: The Ultimate Guide to Traveling More and Spending Less' available at stopdreamingstarttraveling.com    
                           
                               
FREE GUIDE: Download 'Beat the best Online Fare - Every Time, Every Flight at breakthetravelbarrier.com

Find the BEST Cyber Monday Travel Deals

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Mondays are tough and this week is no exception.
With upwards of 47 million Americans expected to travel 50 miles or more this holiday weekend, Monday will be one of the busiest and most expensive days of the year to fly. Ironically, it is also Cyber Monday, which is the Black Friday of online shopping and you will find some of the best online travel deals of the year.
                             
According to
Huge Cyber Monday Travel Deals, last Cyber Monday was the biggest spending day online in U.S. history with upwards of $3 billion in online sales. Click here to see me talk about last year's Cyber Monday on Breakfast Television.

If you’ve been holding off on a trip due to cost or are planning to travel this winter, Monday may be the day to pull the trigger.

Where to Start 
Ok, so the Internet is a big place and it’s hard to know where to look! Fortunately, there are websites that act as billboards showcasing the best online Cyber Monday deals. They are:

  • CyberTravelDeals.com organizes cyber Monday travel deals by country. Most deals are for accommodations and range from 20 - 50% off.
      
  • CyberMonday.com has a Travel section with deals broken down by flights, accommodations, car rentals, cruises and vacation packages.
      


    Power Hour

    An emerging trend is the ‘Power Hour’ super-sale where companies drop prices even further to offer killer deals for one hour on Cyber Monday. This year's Power Hour deals have yet to be announced, but last year's biggest one by far was 90% OFF hotel rooms book using Expedia's app with the exact hotels on sale rotating every hour. 

    Top Picks
    My favorite Cyber Monday deals announced to date include:

    • According to Budget Travel, Fiji Airways is offering up to HALF OFF roundtrip flights between Fiji and either LA, San Francisco or Honolulu.
    • For a last minute escape, Atlantis Bahamas is offering up to 55% OFF nightly rates for stays checking out no later than December 23, 2016.
    • Expedia is expected to match last year's 90% OFF deals on select hotels. Make sure to visit their website Monday for specifics along with terms and conditions.
    • Royal Caribbean is offering 50% OFF guests, up to $300 onboard credits and 50% reduced deposits on select trips and cabins.
    • AMEX Travel is offering up to 50% OFF select trips paid using your AMEX card and taken between January 9 and February 9 2017. Click here to browse deals.
    • This Telegraph article shows 50% OFF 2 night stays in a historic castle near Edinburgh in addition to half a dozen other sales in the range of 50 - 67% OFF.
    • The Boston Globe reports Wyndham is offering up to 40% OFF rooms at select properties in Charleston, S.C., Orlando and San Diego. 
    • 30% OFF stays at any of 14 Hilton hotels in Kauai, Maui and Oahu for stays between January 1 and June 30 next year.

    Leverage, Leverage, Leverage
    With so many amazing deals to choose from, you can book all your vacations for the upcoming year on Cyber Monday and save a bundle.

    A nifty  way to multiply your savings is leverage deals. For example, Vail Resorts has properties throughout the Western U.S. and is offering up to 45% off accommodations booked through
    snow.com/cybermonday. By leveraging this deal with liftopia.com which sells lift tickets at wholesale price, you can literally shred both the slopes and cost of your vacation.

    Make Every Day Cyber Monday
    You don’t have to wait for Cyber Monday to earn major travel rewards online. In an effort to lure shoppers away from brick and mortar stores, online stores and shopping portals offer big time incentives in the form of rewards points. You can earn upwards of 5, 10 even 15 points per dollar spent on purchases. To see which online stores have the best deals, visit 
    evreward.com and browse to see which stores offer the juiciest incentives.

    Last but not least, if you have a favorite travel website, keep an eye on it this Monday as chances are good you will find a great deal displayed on their homepage.

    Keep in Mind
    The steepest discounts are often offered by high end travel operators, making Monday a great opportunity to book 5-star accommodations on a 3-star budget.


    Here's to Scoring Some Great Cyber Monday Travel Deals!


    Once feeling unable to afford to travel, Russell Hannon uses lean principles to travel at a fraction of the going rate. He has been featured on CNBC, FOX, America Tonight, CBS, CTV, CBC, the National Post, Around the World Travel TV and nationally broadcast lifestyle and personal finance shows. He also wrote amazon.ca Budget Travel #1 Best Seller ‘Stop Dreaming Start Traveling: The Ultimate Guide to Traveling More & Spending Less’ available at StopDreamingStartTraveling.com.

    FREE GUIDE: Download ‘Beat the Best Online Fare – Every Time, Every Flight’ at BreakTheTravelBarrier.com.

    buzzoole code

    Camp Free (or super cheap)

    READ MORE



    Tips for Glampers & Budget Travelers


    If you've been following me on Facebook or Twitter (@Russellhannon), you likely know I have a weekly Budget Travel segment on CBC. It has me staying close to home for the summer, as I have to appear live in studio. This suits my travel style as I tend to travel most during the shoulder season when there are fewer travelers, prices are lower, and the temperature is comfortable in most places.

    For many, camping is part of the summer travel experience. And with camping season in full swing, it seems fitting to kick off my summer travel series talking about:

    • Ways to Camp Free (and super cheap)
    • How to snag a campsite in peak camping season
    • Budget-friendly tips for "Glampers" (a.k.a.: Glamorous Campers)
    • Resources for first-time campers
    • Tips for finding campgrounds at the last-minute

    CLICK HERE
    to listen to the interview.

          OR

    CBC did a fantastic job converting the interview into an article.
    CLICK HERE for the full article.


    When researching campsites
    Freeampsites is an app with a map that has pins showing campsites that are FREE to stay at. Each campsite has a brief description and many have guest reviews.

    AllStays Camp & RV is an app with maps with 30,000 U.S. and Canadian campgrounds including RV parks, military family camps, and overnight RV parking at Walmarts, casinos. truck stops with amenities and rest areas. You can browse guest reviews and the app has site specific information on pricing, GPS coordinates and utility information including whether each site have a pool, playground, laundry facilities, propane, RV dump stations and pet policies. The maps are downloadable so that you can access them offline. This can come in handy - especially handy when mobile reception is not always reliable in the country.

    The local author section of every bookstore likely has books with information about nearby campgrounds and outdoor excursions in addition to local hiking guides and trail maps.

    For newbie campers: Parks Canada offers this camping packing checklist to help you pack all the things you'll be glad you have once you're in the bush.

    Before you rent a camper or RV,
    ask yourself if you know someone who owns one. Often, campers and RV's spend most of their time parked in the driveway. By offering a few dollars to borrow one from friends or family, they will often be glad to lend it to you, and the dollars they get in exchange will be a much appreciated bonus.




    Happy Camping! 


    Once feeling unable to afford to travel, Russell Hannon uses lean principles to travel at a fraction of the going rate. He's been featured on CNBC, FOX, America Tonight, CBS, CTV, CBC, the National Post, Around the World Travel TV and nationally broadcast lifestyle and personal finance shows. He is the author of ‘Stop Dreaming Start Traveling: The Ultimate Guide to Traveling More and Spending Less’ available at StopDreamingStartTraveling.com. 

    FREE GUIDE: Download ‘Beat the Best Online Fare – Every Time, Every Flight’ at BreakTheTravelBarrier.com

    Where to Find the Best Travel Deals

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    This Trip Advisor Survey
    shows one in three travelers expects to pay more to travel this year. One reason is many feel it’s just
    too much work to find the best online fares. I get it, it’s akin to driving to the other end of town to save a few dollars on a fill up, and you’re just as well to pay more and save the time of endlessly scouring the web.

    Truth Is: When it comes to travel, you don't need to choose between saving time or money. In fact, there are simple ways you can quickly and easily find great deals that align to your travel type.

    Imagine not only having to do the research for your upcoming trips, but having to do it for everyone else as well. I routinely have to do this for dozens of cities where I am regularly asked on shows what the best deals are specific to people departing from those cities. What could easily devolve into hours of research each week takes me just 5 minutes prior to each show.  

    Click Here to hear me explain how I do this in a Tampa radio interview - or continue reading for details:


    To quickly and easily find the best online travel deals, I subscribe to dozens of travel newsletters that sift through thousands of online travel deals and post their favorites in their weekly newsletter. Over time, I noticed a few of these newsletters consistently impressed me every week with great deals. They are: 

    Sherman's Travel issues their Top 25 Travel Deals newsletter every Wednesday to more than 3 million subscribers:


    Johnny Jet issues a daily travel tip newsletter and occasionally mixes in Travel Deals such as the ones shown below:

    Budget Travel issues a weekly Top Travel Deals newsletter with the 'Editor's Pick of the Week.':
     

    Nomadic Matt
    is widely regarded as one of the world's top travel bloggers, Nomadic Matt has a budget travel newsletter with a section that features 'This week's best deals.':



    It takes less than 5 minutes a week to scroll through all these newsletters for deals that may be of interest to you. If nothing catches your eye, simply delete it and next week you'll get more newsletters with new deals to consider.

    Social Media
    Many of the best online travel deals are time-sensitive in that they are either:
    • Limited to a set number of bookings
    • Error fares (i.e.: A $250 flight accidently keyed at $25) that are corrected shortly after travel operators discover them.

    To capitalize on these deals, you need to learn about them as they emerge, and act quickly before they disappear. It's unlikely that you will stumble upon these deals yourself, and fortunately you don't need to. An easy way to keep on the forefront of these sorts of deals is to follow the Facebook pages of industry leaders who specialize in monitoring 'Killer Deals.' My favorites are:


    The Flight Deal

    The Points Guy



     I discuss these strategies on the Maggie Linton Show on Sirius XM (
    CLICK HERE and go to 2:15).


    If these strategies land you great deals, leave a comment. Happy travels!


    Once feeling unable to afford to travel, Russell Hannon uses lean principles to travel at a fraction of the going rate. He has been featured on CNBC, FOX, America Tonight, CBS, CTV, CBC, the National Post, Around the World Travel TV and nationally broadcast lifestyle and personal finance shows.

    He is also the author of amazon.ca Budget Travel #1 Best Seller ‘Stop Dreaming Start Traveling: The Ultimate Guide to Traveling More & Spending Less’ available at StopDreamingStartTraveling.com

    FREE GUIDE: Download ‘Beat the Best Online Fare – Every Time, Every Flight’ at BreakTheTravelBarrier.com