How to plan your next trip without breaking your bank.

As we all know, we have to plan the trip long before the trip itself so we can get the best deal out there.

Now, where should we start? I usually go with southwest.com to decide where and when we are going for our next vacation.

  • Check Out Southwest Route
  • Decide where you want to go
  • Then search the flight
  • Put your depart and arrive cities
  • Don’t need to put the date
  • Click search
  • Click on the LOW FARE CALENDAR
  • Then you can see when is the cheapest flight everyday of the month
  • You can search by $ or points (you can compare which is better points or $)
  • You can search trip 6 months in advance

For example

I did search for a trip to Cancun from Chicago and here is the result

I found the lowest fare on September 10th and return on the 19th or September 24th and return on October 3rd.

If you use points that trip will cost you 8736 points +$81.81

And if you pay cash the total will be $236

If you use points that’s mean each of your point is worth 1.76 cents.

The advantage of using points is that if you found later on that your trip use less points, you can call them to readjustment and get the difference back.

You can also get the advantage of buy one get one free if you have a companion pass. Click here for details

Next is the accommodation

  • We are a platinum member of Marriott so we usually search their properties first
  • If they don’t have any good deal we then proceed with IHG property since we also a platinum member because we have their credit card.
  • And so on.
  • Airbnb is my last resource

Transportation.

For us usually it is cheaper to just rent a car. I book the cheapest one I could find the first day of my search, since you can cancel it anytime. Then you keep looking for a cheaper one every other week. Usually the price go down as the trip day approaching, but we want to be safe so we put one on hold in the beginning which you can cancel it if you find a cheaper one. Once you have determined that’s the cheapest one, you then go ahead with pay in advance since it will save you up to 20%

For a van I usually find Thrifty and Payless rent a car is the cheapest one out there.

For things to do

  • I always go with Groupon and if I see one that I like I keep it in mind. I only buy it when they offer 20% off.
  • Before I buy I make sure I login to my Ebates and click on the Groupon link to get extra cashback. Usually it’s 6% cashback if you click Groupon link from your Ebates account.