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Baltimore, MD
USA

Cat and Milk Studio: artwork by Caroline Devereaux.  Illustration, commissioned art, comics and sketches from an artist in Baltimore, Maryland.

Tips for Booking Cheaper Travel

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Cat and Milk Studio news, and anecdotes from artist, Caroline Devereaux. Illustrations in progress and sales and discounts on commission portraits are posted here. 

Tips for Booking Cheaper Travel

Caroline Devereaux

I get asked a lot about what sites I use to book travel. I'm by no means an authority on the subject, however, my credentials include a 31-day, 4 country-tour of Europe that cost my husband and I less than $7k, and a week in Guadeloupe that cost us less than $700, including meals. I use tons of websites (and as a result, I get tons of spam) however, I thought I'd share a few of my favorite resources. 

A comic based on our stay in the High Atlas Mountains of Morocco. 

  • AirfareWatchdog.com lets you set up alerts for specific destinations, sending you weekly updates on those. I currently get emailed updates showing me fares for RT Baltimore-New Orleans, RT Baltimore-London. Even if I'm not planning a trip immediately, it nice to get an idea of median prices throughout the year so I can have an idea of prices to aim for when I do need to book something. (Yes, there are plenty apps and websites that will fetch this data, but I haven't found anything as reliable as keeping my own tabs.)
  • TravelZoo.com is a good place to find very good trip package deals, amassed from all around the travel industry, not just other third-party websites. 
  • Sherman's Travel offers good rates on more "adventurous" trips-- Patagonia, China, Nepal, etc. I believe they also set up group-travel for you, although I've never compared prices for tours. 
  • I book last-minute hotels through HotWire.com Their "HotRate" thing is very good even with advance booking as long as you do not require a specific hotel. I have rarely -if ever- gotten rates as low for either hotels or flights through Priceline; the "Name Your Own Price" thing sounds great, but it usually punts back $30 off of a standard rate or something equally disappointing.
  • When it comes to accommodations: AirBnB is the obvious choice for cheap digs, especially if you have time for shenanigans involving or poor directions or hosts who are MIA at time of check-in. If I'm aiming for more reliable service and property descriptions (and I'm willing to pay a bit more!), I use TripAdvisor.com which uses listings from VRBO.com and HomeAway and FlipKey if I remember correctly. 
  • I find myself booking air travel through OneTravel.com often; tickets are usually the cheapest, or at least on par with the lowest you will find. Bonus: since I use them so much, they've started giving me way better customer service, including refunds for "non-refundable" flights (the holy grail, as far as I'm concerned). I still check Spirit, Southwest, and Jet Blue individually, since these cheap Chinatown-buses-of-the-air rarely affiliate themselves with third-party resale companies. 
  • Speaking of budget airlines, America is eons behind Europe in this area, and navigating the sales, apps, and passenger restrictions that border on the illegal would require a whole blog post unto itself. (If you can commiserate with me on this, you'll love "Come Fly With Us.") Those single- and double-digit ticket prices are totally irresistible, and they KNOW that. If you are constantly making the mistake of flying RyanAir, EasyJet, etc, the way I do, then you know  1) pack so light that you don't have a check-bag;  2) print out every piece of ticketing info like it is 2002;  3) practice meditation to survive 3 hour queues to check in for a 6:30 a.m. flight. 

I haven't quite gotten a handle on those amazing frequent-flyer mile loop-holes.  If you have great sources for information, or recommendations to add, I'd love to hear them!