Vacations can be incredible -- until you see the bill. Thankfully, you can use several online tools to save cash before you depart. Sure, there are those helpful aggregator sites that help you find the best airfares. But don't forget review sites and insurance portals that keep you protected from risk, and make sure you avoid a nightmare accommodation spot.
Who hasn't used Trip Advisor to learn what to do in a new location? The best part of this tool is the feedback from real travellers about what an attraction was really like and whether it was worth the money. After all, those reviews can reveal a lot about potential costs: from unadvertised add-ons to long transportation times that may not make it worth the money.
Instead of heading to an aggregator site for flights, you can start with your search engine. Google Flights pulls up-to-date quotes from a variety of operators. The tool also offers price alerts, so you know right away when there's a deal on your preferred route.
If you want options to book everything at once, Expedia is an old tool that still packs a punch. You can combine your flight, hotel and car rental into one package. This can usually save you money and some time getting your transportation set up at your destination.
For focusing on accommodations, few beat Trivago. The site not only allows you to find the cheapest hotels and apartments, but lets you view dozens of photos for each location. This, combined with star ratings and reviews from previous guests, lets you book without worry.
No one wants to show up at a hotel, jet lagged and ready for bed, only to find their sight-unseen budget hotel leaves a lot to be desired. The ability to research ahead of time means you save cancellation fees and hassle in finding a new place to stay.
Although you can schedule an entire getaway through Booking.com, its stand-out benefit is its range of accommodation options. You can choose between villas, B&Bs, resorts, hostels, and hotels. That way, you can not only save big, but you won't miss out on those out-of-the-way places to stay that make your vacation even more memorable.
There's one important travel cost some people overlook: insurance. This is an essential purchase to protect you and your trip. Many travel booking sites offer insurance as an add-on to your package, but it's important to explore all your options before signing up. Insurance Hotline gives you access to several travel insurance quotes for your next trip.
Depending on the policy, these can cover you in the event you need medical care or have to cancel or interrupt your vacation. With the right insurance, you can reduce the amount of unexpected costs you pay out of pocket.
It's almost vacation time -- have fun! A bit of extra planning helps keeps those bills low, so you don't spend months paying for those great memories long after your time away has passed.