Ad content in partnership with Expedia Group—where you book matters.


After more than a year working from home with delayed or cancelled vacations, we’re more than ready to scratch that travel itch again.

We’re not the only ones! This summer saw a boom across air travel, hotels and rental car bookings as vaccinations rolled out and countries relaxed some of their travel restrictions. And it doesn’t seem to be slowing down anytime soon. According to a recent survey by the Wall Street Journal, 79% of people plan to use more vacation days this year.

That means it’s more important than ever to plan ahead when you’re booking that next trip.

Whether it’s organizing a family vacation, booking for business or finally planning the trip of a lifetime, the Expedia Group brands—including sites like Vrbo, Travelocity, Hotels.com and Hotwire—can unlock the best possibilities and opportunities for every kind of traveler and every kind of trip.

No matter who you are or where you’re going, these smart travel tips and resources can help you not only find the trip that’s right for you, but also help you get the best bang for your buck.

Photo: Montage Kapalua Bay/Expedia

Be flexible with your flights

For most trips, airfare is typically the most expensive part. And some hardcore travelers even turn the challenge of finding cheap flights into a sport.

The key? Be flexible. If you already have your dates and destination picked out, chances are you’ll be stuck paying whatever the airline wants to charge you.

Instead, use sites like Expedia or Travelocity to research affordable destinations first. Once you have your location picked out, select the dates that have the cheapest airfare, using features like the Flexible Date option to compare the cheapest prices for nearby days.

Once you’ve found your flights, make sure to check to see if there are any coupons or cash back deals. For instance, Expedia currently has 3% cash back for online purchases! Yes, that means cash back on everything from airfare to hotels to car rentals.

Photo: Grand Miramar/Hotels.com

Choose the right accommodation

We love a hotel stay as much as the next person, but sometimes a vacation rental makes a better accommodation choice. It all depends on the type of traveler you are and trip you want to take.

For those who love the ease of staying in a hotel and the helpfulness of a concierge (plus the oh-so-comfortable bedding!), Hotels.com is great resource for finding the perfect accommodation, with filter options like guest rating, amenities, free cancellation policies and closeness to popular area landmarks.

With Hotels.com, you can unlock secret prices, get 6% cash back on your booking and score a reward night for every 10 nights you stay when you join the Hotels.com Rewards program. (Plus, Travelocity is also offering 3% cash back for hotel bookings!)

Vacation rentals, on the other hand, are great for those looking to learn about and explore more of the local scene. Rentals are often located in smaller communities, away from bustling downtown areas—which also can make them a more affordable option.

Vrbo—which stands for Vacation Rentals By Owner—is a great source for finding the space you need to relax, reconnect and enjoy time away, whether it’s with friends or family. It’s an especially good choice if you’re looking for a more secluded or remote property.

You can search a unique selection of over two million homes all over the U.S. and around the world, including houseboats, chalets, log cabins, farmhouses and even castles.

Choose your dates and use the filter to find the perfect home for your trip, selecting options like the number of bedrooms, type of amenities, nearby activities and places that let you cancel for free up to 60 days before check-in, you know, just in case.

Photo: The Ruby of Redstone/Vrbo

Book your wheels early

In case you haven’t heard, car rentals are a hot commodity these days. When travel picked up earlier this spring, many people had a rude awakening when they got around to booking their vehicle.

Many companies sold off a chunk of their fleet during the pandemic causing a car rental shortage, and building back inventory has been slow-going.

Things haven’t gotten much better over the summer months, either. According to The Washington Post, some travel booking sites said prices were up 95 percent last month compared to the beginning of the year.

Hotwire makes it easy to search, compare and find the best prices across the biggest car rental agencies, including Enterprise, Avis and Hertz. Most reservations allow for free cancelation, just in case, and you’ll get 5% cash back for your car booking.

With high demand and low inventory, finding a car should no longer be an afterthought once you’ve booked the rest of your trip. In fact, you might even want to do it first.

Just remember to return your car with a full tank of gas (or how you got it)!

The post The Smartest Way to Plan (and Save on) Your Next Trip appeared first on The Real Deal by RetailMeNot.

Originally posted on www.retailmenot.com