Inspired by Brian’s blog post, my mind started wondering off to idyllic country inns and the smell of blooming peonies and no travel arrangements to support my fantasies. If you are like me, and yearn for a mid-summer gateway, but your budget is more Al Wakrah than Maldives, don’t automatically assume that it’s too late to find any great travel deals. Prices might have inched up for early-summer travel from Doha, but the bargains are still out there if you know how to look for them.
Facebook app Mobissimo.com will alert you of the best fares
A new breed of travel search engines has been around for a few years now, and sites, like Kayak, Momondo, and Mobissimo trawl through hundreds of travel sites to find the lowest fares. Unlike Expedia for example, which searches for deals in particular databases, meta-search engines go through hundreds of sources so you don’t have to. My favorite is Mobissimo – it indexes over 180 travel sites and allows hunting for deals on flights, hotels, cars, cruises and even travel agents’ packages.
Mobissimo also integrates seamlessly with Facebook, making social media addicts like me very happy and able to search for the best deals without ever leaving the platform. To start using Mobissimo on Facebook, you have to simply download My Alerts widget that can be personalized by setting up destination fare alerts that will appear in your newsfeed. The application is very easy to install, and has a number of useful features, including little arrows that point to daily and weekly price variances and insight to what kind of deals others are getting.
Once you select a flight on Mobissimo, the site redirects you to the airline’s own site, where you complete the transaction directly with the airline. It’s a great service as it cuts the comparison and shopping time in half and I found that most of the times I am doing much better than a travel agent when faced with the same booking challenge. For example, I just found a flight deal from Doha to Bangkok that is 900 QAR cheaper than booking directly from the airline’s website or calling a local travel agent.
Find travel bargains on Travelzoo.com
To find deals similar to what you saw in the spring, you might also want to check out Travelzoo.com. Every Wednesday Travelzoo publishes a newsletter with a Top 20 list of the most fabulous deals. The company’s team of 250 cover 23 countries to come up with the hottest offers. You can snatch deals like a half priced Condé Nast-rated Irish Castle escape for 2, or 30% off family fun in Disneyland. If you have an eye for a hotel-and-flight package, but are not sure if you are really getting a great bargain, plug in the same dates on the airline and hotel sites directly and see how these prices measure up.
Free lunch is on Toptable.com
For most of us it’s pretty much a habit to either talk to friends or do online research before booking a table at a restaurant. One of the sites to keep in mind when travelling is Toptable. This restaurant booking service has some of the top restaurants in over 15 countries, and although it’s not available in Qatar yet, it lists a plethora of restaurants in Europe, Asia, and the United States. The service is free, real-time and will save you a lot of times 50% off the bill. It also lets you invite friends through the website and share directions and images, which is very handy when you are on the road in an unknown place. Points are collected each time you book and review a restaurant, and yes, after you make seven bookings, they will pay for your lunch.
The world is your oyster with Foursquare
If you haven’t tried Foursquare yet, you should! It makes exploring new cities easier to do and more fun, plus there is a good chance you will discover the unexpected in your own city. The app lets you check in via any web enabled smart phone, including BlackBerry and iPhone, and search for places near you. It also makes recommendations where to stay, eat, shop, and celebrate based on your network’s activity. Businesses use Foursquare frequently to attract and engage new customers, so expect deals wherever you are. The very popular Ritz Carlton Doha, for example, shares travel and entertainment tips from all 75 Ritz-Carlton hotels around the globe through its World Concierge app on Foursquare.
What are your money saving tips for travel? Can you recommend any travel sites that you like? Over to you and have a great time on the road.