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Sometimes the secret to a travel bargain isn’t who you know, but what you know.
Here are four insider strategies from travel pros to save money the next time you need to get away.
1. Go ‘old school’ with reservations
“Ninety-five percent of the people I know will book their reservations online,” says Peter Greenberg, CBS News travel editor and founder of PeterGreenberg.com.
Whether you’re searching flights, hotel rooms or cruises, “only about 52 percent of the available inventory is online,” he says. So you’re missing out on almost half of your options.
Better move: Research online, and then pick up the phone, says Greenberg.
Whether you call the airline, hotel or cruise line directly (or opt for a travel agent), that person has “access to stuff that’s not online,” he says.
The conversation costs you nothing and, when you find a better deal, you can save as much as “40 to 50 percent,” Greenberg says.
2. Switch up computers, phones and tablets
Using online sites to search or buy travel deals? When you’re ready to buy, visit the site from a different device, Greenberg advises.
The reason: Travel sites often track your visits, and prices frequently increase with successive site visits, he’s found. But you throw a monkey wrench in the system when you visit from a different computer.
Laptop and tablet tied into the same router? Use a computer from work instead, or borrow a friend’s tablet or laptop.
While you might save nothing at all, says Greenberg, “four out of the five cases where I tested it, I saved 30 percent.”
3. Skip public transit ticket machines (sometimes)
Visiting a city with great public transit, like San Francisco, London or Paris? If you’re traveling with kids or seniors, forgo the ticket machines and talk with a real live person behind a counter or kiosk, says Cynthia Ochterbeck, editorial director for Michelin Travel Partner.
“They usually have very reduced-rate transit cards for students and seniors,” she says. And the price can be half of what you would pay if you just hit an automated machine for full-priced tickets, she says.
Going to be in town for a few days? Price a weekly ticket or pass, says Ochterbeck. “It makes much more sense.”
4. Opt for two big meals a day
Maximize your time and your money: Eat a big breakfast and a nice dinner, says Ochterbeck.
In between, grab a couple of light snacks or a dessert as you go.
Or flip it: Make the second big meal a late lunch, and enjoy “a room picnic for dinner,” she says.
You’ll have more time for sightseeing and, with two people traveling over five days, you can reclaim “a few hundred bucks,” says Ochterbeck. “Save it to enjoy a really beautiful meal somewhere.”