Where to Find Vacation Deals – A Guide to Comparison Search Tools, Travel Discount Apps, & More

There are many ways to find vacation deals these days. The average person who once didn’t have access to airfare and hotel discounts can now easily look over and compare tons of great deals for business travel, vacation packages, cruises, and more. If you’re wondering where to find vacation deals, you’re already off to a good start.

One place you’ll want to look is comparison sites. These sites work with most major and budget airlines in the world, hundreds of thousands of hotels, all the car rental companies, dozens of cruise lines, and so forth. They provide search tools that are easy to use. All you have to do is enter the dates you’re interested in traveling, your departure city, intended destination, and number of people traveling. There are options to search for airfare alone, hotel accommodation alone, car rental alone, cruise fare, or a combination of these. Sometimes extra savings are possible if you bundle everything at once.

If you don’t have anything specific in mind, there are “Daily Deals”, “Vacation Packages”, “Things to Do”, etc… sections to check out. You will be able to view all of the current deals on both domestic and international vacations.

While this is a great way to find discounts on popular vacation spots like the Caribbean, Cancun, Vegas, Paris, New York, Orlando, Hawaii, etc… , you still might be wondering where to find vacation deals at destinations that aren’t as popular. Just enter the first couple of letters of the destination and the search function will automatically suggest the name of that destination as well as the nearest airport. Play around with the dates – the more flexible you are, the easier it will be to find a discount rate.

Where Else to Find Vacation Deals

Another place to find travel discounts is with newsletters and apps. Have the newest deals sent right to your inbox or smartphone the very second they pop up. Some apps will even let you specify your budget and the destinations you are interested in. There are newsletters dedicated to general travel deals and some that are for specialty travel, like Caribbean cruises and Maui adventures.

There are bidding sites as well that will allow you to bid on hotel rooms and airfare. However, you need to be particularly savvy and this strategy isn’t for everyone.

Now that you know where to find vacation deals, be sure to use a service that is reliable and offers 24/7 customer service, whether you choose to the search and comparison option, newsletter service, app, etc. Also, use promo codes and other special offers to bring the price down even more.

Get all of the savings opportunities you need online. It is by far the best place to search for, find, and compare travel rates. You can also book right through the sites or apps. This is where to find vacation deals and affordable business travel services. Be sure to use online coupons when you book your trip.

Solo Travel Packages – Costa Rica, One of the Best Vacations for Singles

For solo vacation destinations, it is hard to beat Costa Rica. It has something for everyone and at an affordable price. If you choose as I did to go off-season, it is an even better buy considering the surcharges routinely added to solo travel packages making it hard to find well-priced luxury travel options for single travelers. These price drops come about quickly after the summer crowds head home so I took the opportunity to visit in September. Although it was still the rainy season, I don’t recall having to dust off my umbrella even once. Fall deals may also reflect smaller crowds where some tourists may avoid the entire Caribbean because of publicity about hurricanes. In actuality, Costa Rica is seldom impacted by direct hurricane hits and despite its size has several different climate zones. All in all, it was one of my very best solo travel destinations.

Hotels are abundant at a wide range of prices from global high-end chains to smaller locally-owned properties. TripAdvisor lists 120 hotels in 20 different locations within Costa Rica. A local site listed 61 hotels categorized as 5-star with nightly rates from a modest $113 soaring to $1240, providing virtually unlimited luxury travel options for single travelers. Seven of those 5-star hotels were in the $200-$299 range and although not inexpensive, they compare favorably with resort prices around the world.

Costa Rica is one of the best resorts for singles since it offers 4 different types of top vacations for those traveling alone: 1. historic and cultural travel packages that reflect both the Caribbean and Latin American heritage, 2. ecotourism or green travel packages, 3. adventure tour deals and 4. beach getaways not just for honeymooners.

I began my trip in the capital, San Jose, piecing together my own cultural travel package as I went along. The country’s Spanish colonial history began in the early 16th century when Christopher Columbus in his travels was credited with naming it Costa Rica. After its first Spanish settlers arrived in 1522, approximately 300 years followed before independence was achieved.

The city has a number of museums to explore, such as the Museo Nacional de Costa Rica. However, it was the Museo de Oro (Museum of Gold) that really intrigued me. Not only was it filled with gleaming gold artifacts, they represented the much earlier, pre-Columbian figures from before the arrival of the Spanish. (In addition, the adjacent gift shop sold copies of these unique items, perfect to take home as presents for friends and family.)

History scholars and architectural enthusiasts may be disappointed to find that most of the intact buildings in the capital only date back to the 1800’s rather than the colonial period. The impressive Metropolitan Cathedral of San José was built in the late 19th century replacing the original structure destroyed by an earthquake. Newer, but regarded as San Jose’s finest historic building, is the National Theatre of Costa Rica, also dating only from the end of the 19th century. Now celebrating its 117th anniversary this year, it is known for its ornate interior of pink marble and gilt but also houses an elegant Viennese-style coffee shop. Out front two imposing statues, Ludwig van Beethoven and the 17th century Spanish playwright, Calderón de La Barca, keep a watchful eye on 21st century visitors as they enter.

After leaving San Jose and going into the countryside, it is easy to see that Costa Rica is one of the top worldwide ecotourism destinations which provides affordable trips for single travelers. The rainforest, parks and wildlife sanctuaries constitute 25% of the country. Although small in square miles, Costa Rica has some of the richest biodiversity in the world. In keeping with its green focus, the government has undertaken a program over time to voluntarily achieve 2007 carbon neutrality. The highly photogenic Red-eyed Tree Frog is most typically depicted to represent Costa Rican wildlife. As I found, you don’t have to go very far to see colorful examples. From my hotel patio, I was joined for breakfast each morning by a low-flying hummingbird, one of 26 local species. The rainforest, with its 3-4 distinct levels, provides an opportunity to see sloths lounging in the trees and screeching monkeys atop the canopy; however, the dense growth can make it difficult to spot them.

A third option exists for single travelers looking to pick up the tempo. Beyond placid bird watching and snapping photos of wildlife, Costa Rica offers abundant opportunities for adventure vacations for singles from zip lining high above the treetops or rappelling down waterfalls at LaFortuna/Arenal. Six to seven rivers have whitewater rafting while both coasts offer snorkeling and scuba diving. Although the Arenal Volcano no longer draws evening crowds after its nightly eruptions ended in 2010, six major volcanoes remain for trekking. The resulting hot springs are still an ideal venue for “Happy Hour” watching the sun set. Not being prepared, I was glad to see that the gift shop sold attractive bathing suits in bright tropical colors although a little short on fabric!

Lastly, no trip to Costa Rica is complete without visiting the almost 300 beaches from the Pacific Coast on the west and the more tranquil Caribbean on the east. I recommend trying out both sides.

For me having my local home base in San Jose in the Central Valley was ideal since it was an easy day trip to the rainforest but with the beaches and boating still in easy reach. The quality and prices were definitely quite good even for solo travelers. If you can’t decide whether you want to go to the Caribbean or to Latin America, Costa Rica gives you “2-for-the-price-of-1” rather than as single travelers often find “1-for-the-price-of-2”! Whether you are looking for boomer travel or a millennial adventure, go ahead and add Costa Rica to your bucket list.

Travel Alert: How to Avoid Fraud When Renting a Vacation Beach House

When planning a wonderful weekend getaway or great holiday time in a vacation rental home, be aware that scammers are ready and waiting to take your money, and leave you without that beautiful beach house you thought you had booked. How to avoid being a victim of internet abuse? Be aware, and smart. Trust your instincts. If it seem too good to be true, it probably is.

Use your good sense and caution and you can book a lovely holiday for you and your family in a great spot. Do your research. Use reputable travel websites for one thing. Check out the referrals on the specific vacation beach house you are interested in renting. While there are many vacation rental sites on the internet, not all are created equal. Check out comments and blogs on the actual site you are looking and choosing from.

Are you open to going anywhere that looks good, or do you have a particular place in mind? Are your dates firm, or can you be flexible? Going to a place that is off the beaten path can offer new adventures and things you may not have thought of. If you are open to different times of the year and dates, you may be able to negotiate a free night, or a significant discount, don’t be afraid to ask!

One of the current common fraudulent bookings involves moneygrams. Don’t ever book a place and send a moneygram as payment. This is a sure sign that someone has has their site “phished”. It can happen without the owner even knowing; their website gets hacked, and inquiries from legitimate renters such as yourself are directed to their email account.

This recently happened with a California vacation rental home in Marin County. A renter had made an initial inquiry to the homeowner through an online paid travel website. After the initial contact and response, the owner’s email was compromised, and the renter was now dealing with a scammer. An official looking agreement was emailed out to the renter for the rental dates with instructions to send a moneygram to a name and address in Houston, Texas. The prospective renter went to Walmart to send the moneygram, and just mentioned that he felt sort of funny about sending it. The clerk cautioned him, wisely, and he decided to call the owner directly. Lucky for him, as this was a scam. As it so happened, the house was open, and he was able to book directly with the owner, paying with PayPal.

Be on the alert, and you can have a wonderful time in vacation rental properties, and make beautiful and lasting memories of a once in a lifetime event!