Getting the best rates on things like hotels and flights have become a borderline obsession for some travelers, but some of the most common "tricks" are often not useful. The TODAY anchors test their knowledge on ways to make a trip go smoothly.
Is it true, or a myth? We tackle 7 conventional travel tips to reveal which will actually save you money on your next vacation.
1. If you have enough frequent flier miles for your next flight, use them.
Myth. It isn't always a good value to cash in your miles. First, use the 1.4-cents-per-mile rule to calculate the value of an award ticket. If the cash price is considerably cheaper than the award ticket calculation, save your miles. For example, if a flight will cost you $300 cash or 50,000 points, you'll get more value out of paying cash since the 50,000 points equal about $700. You'll want to use those points on a ticket that's around $500 or more.
2. Search for flights on Tuesdays and Wednesdays or just after midnight to be sure you get the lowest airfare.
Myth. Don't limit yourself. While it is true that many airlines have advertised sales on Tuesday and Wednesday, George Hobica of AirfareWatchDog.com says that the best fares are unadvertised and can pop up at any hour of the week. So if consumers only search certain days, they may miss out on some great deals. Sign up for AirfareWatchDog's alerts and follow Fly.com and your favorite airlines on Twitter, to help stay on top of unadvertised fares—they often don't last long.
3. When booking a cruise, your best bet is to use a travel agent.
True. Cruise lines are strict about keeping pricing consistent, so if you find a discount offered online, your agent should have access to the same rate. Agents can tell you if upgrades or other perks become available later and they book for no fee because they earn a commission from the cruise line itself, so there isn’t an additional cost passed on to you. You can also get valuable insights from agents on which cruise line best suits you.
4. Once you book a flight, you can't make any changes without paying a fee.
Myth. Thanks to new DOT rules that came out earlier in 2012, you now have 24 hours after you've booked a flight to make changes to, or cancel, a ticket with no penalty. This rule should give you added confidence when making plans. Furthermore, websites like Orbitz will refund the difference if, after you book, another passenger books your same itinerary at a lower cost.
5. If you pay for your hotel room in advance, you may still be able to get a lower rate if the rate drops.
True. Every hotel is different, so be sure you know the cancellation policy when booking. When you book one of Tingo’s “money back” hotels, the website starts monitoring the reservation on your behalf. If the price drops at any time, Tingo will automatically cancel your reservation and rebook you at the better rate and refund you the difference after your stay. Orbitz and Travelocity also offer price guarantees on their own terms.
6. You're less likely to be bumped from your flight if you check in early.
True. Involuntary bumping is pretty rare, but when it does occur, it’s a big headache. The earlier you check-in (24-hours is the earliest), the more better you are. Once you have your final seat assignment confirmed, bumping becomes less likely. And, checking-in early is easy since you can do it from home or on a mobile device well before you step foot in the airport.
7. The best days to fly out of major airports are Tuesday, Wednesday, and Saturday.
True. Fewer people tend to travel on these days, so you'll find less crowded airports and also a better chance for lower fares. It also makes sense to pick the first flight out in the morning for a better chance of avoiding delays (and crowds).
More From Travel + Leisure:
- Most-Complained-About Airlines
- T+L Insider Video: Top U.S. Inns and Lodges
- America’s Most Family-Friendly Airports
- Best Affordable Beach Resorts