‘Cast a wide net’: Where to find the best travel deals

When you’re planning a trip, websites such as Orbitz, Expedia or Hotels.com are often the first stop.

But some travelers are suspicious after recent deals between major travel companies, including the Orbitz and Expedia merger, about who is controlling the prices.

Christopher Elliott, a travel columnist for The Washington Post, says there’s no reason to worry. In fact, the travel market is more competitive than most people realize.

For one thing, he said, smaller websites will often get special deals on rooms from hotels and then offer them at a discount — making it difficult for larger travel agencies to control pricing.

“There are still some amazingly great deals out there, you just have to know where to find them,” Elliott said.

So where do you find them?

Elliott suggests casting a wide net at first and using online search engines such as Google Flights to get a general idea of the price points that are available.

Then, go directly to the source. Check with the hotel or airline agency directly to see if they have a better deal.

You can check their websites or call them directly and ask for the best rate they can offer. Elliott said this works best during a recession or the slow season, when occupancy rates are down.

“Hotels are desperate to get rid of some of their rooms [during those times] and they are willing to take almost anything for it,” he said.

Finally, talk to a travel agent.

“For some longer trips or for a specialty trip like a cruise or a safari, your travel agent actually might have access to special deals or special tour packages that you’re not going to find online,” Elliott said.

Federal News Network Logo
Log in to your WTOP account for notifications and alerts customized for you.

Sign up