If you consider yourself a savings sleuth, then you’ll already know some of the best ways to get incredible deals on travel.
You’ll have signed up to airline e-newsletters for the latest sale drops, joined every frequent flyer program under the sun and kept an eye open for last-minute savings on accommodation on social media.
Of course, travel agents are an invaluable part of the puzzle, especially with the increased likelihood of COVID hiccups. But there’s more than one way to get good deals. Here are three little-known hacks to save hundreds, if not, thousands of dollars, on your next holiday.
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Buy your ticket from a wholesaler
Snow fiends may have already heard of SnoWorld, an old-school, family-owned travel wholesaler that offers budget-friendly package deals on ski holidays to the US and Canada. But their best kept secret is that they now deal directly with the consumer.
“Some customers had trouble buying airfares alone from SnoWorld, thinking they had to buy some sort of snow holiday, so we set up the very basic,” says Craig Mathews, managing director of Value Fares. The company specialises in flights to the US, and travellers often use them in conjunction with frequent flyers points as a cheap way to get to Canada, Mexico and Central and South America.
“We buy blocks of seats, 500 at a time, every February and March for December and January departures. Fares from Sydney to Vancouver nonstop departing early January are often $3000 to $4000 return. Many people don’t want to, or cannot spend those amounts,” says Craig.
“But if you can get a cheap fare to LAX, which is usually around $1000, you can then use frequent flyers points to get to Vancouver, or buy cheap tickets to airports on the US side of the border and then rent a car.”
As of November 17, Value Fares currently has seats to sell on flights from Sydney to LAX via Fiji with Fiji Airways for just $999 return for travel between December 18 and January 6, with savings of $4,000. Check out the ‘Buy Now’ page on the website for current deals and for regular updates, sign up to their newsletter.
Wanna get cheap upgrades? There’s a course for that
“Being a ‘points pro’ means earning lots more frequent flyer points without spending too much more, if any more, money, then knowing exactly how to redeem those points effectively so you can travel in business or first class when you go on holiday,” says Matt Graham, co-founder of Frequent Flyer Solutions.
The Aussie company offers 10 online courses under its Frequent Flyer Training umbrella that teach the three components of an airline or hotel loyalty program: earning points, redeeming points and earning elite status. It’s free to join as an ‘Economy Class’ member to access the first unit of each of the 10 courses, while a membership fee applies to access further content.
“The courses teach how to calculate the value of a reward to determine whether it’s good value, some of the left-field ways to redeem points, how to find award availability and book an award ticket,” says Matt.
And if you’re just as confused about fare classes as us, this is a good chance to learn.
“Understanding how fare classes work allows you to work out how many points and status credits your flight will earn, whether your ticket is upgradeable, how full your flight will be and can help to predict the likelihood of a points upgrade request being successful,” Matt says. You’ll also learn hacks such as how to hire a car for $1 using a one-way relocation deal and how to get the best seats when flying Qantas.
“The trick with Qantas is to select a seat exactly three days and eight hours before the flight’s scheduled departure time. This is when most of the blocked seats at the front of the cabin become available for selection,” Matt says.
He says one of the best strategies they teach is buying heavily discounted frequent flyer points from overseas airlines such as American Airlines, Etihad, Air Canada or Avianca, which can then be redeemed for business and first class flights on different airlines including Qantas and Virgin Australia. “This can be a clever way to save thousands of dollars on premium cabin flights because by doing this in a smart way, you can attain the points you need for a flight for just a fraction of the regular airfare,” he says.
Use your mobile device to get a steal on luxe stays
Booking accommodation in Bali, Greece or Italy? Close your Macbook and pick up your mobile device. Booking.com offers huge savings on accommodation bookings that are made through their app on your mobile device. For example, you can currently book a private pool bungalow room a hotel in Canggu that’s normally $275 a night for just $69 a night in April 2022. Just be sure to read the reviews to see if it’s worth the value and make sure you tweak the filters to include free cancellations.
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