Sharing a few tips and tricks I've been using over the years to score the best prices for hotels and air.
Where to book your hotels and flights:
+ For flights, search on Kayak and book direct. Kayak has a great algorithm for pulling up the best prices and you can search for +/- 3 days, so if you have flexibility you can see the best time to travel.
+ For flights, book direct. Always. Booking third party has its range of nightmares like getting bumped because the seat was sold in an overbooked plane, to customer service issues when your flight is canceled and you have to get your third party company to re-book your flight.
+ For hotels, I search prices on Booking.com or Priceline.
+ For hotels, I’d recommend to always book direct with the hotel. These days the hotels are typically matching third-party websites, and you give the business direct to the hotel. Often hotels reward this by throwing in some extra benefits. Lately I have been seeing things like 4th night on us, complimentary breakfast, and complimentary upgrades for booking direct. Value isn't always in the dollar.
Bringing down the price and other tips:
+ Flying into Europe and want to go to multiple cities? Try booking your air in an open-Jaw format where you fly into one city and fly out another. Often times tickets get bundled and it saves you on a train ticket back to the originating point of entry.
+ United Super Saver Awards is where I score my international flights. I save all my points for United, and 7-8 months in advance of an international trip I will book my trip on the "super saver" section. I've booked air on points to Paris for 45,000 points roundtrip, and other Europe destination for under 60,000 points roundtrip.
+ Always clear your cookies. RailEurope can be the worst for this, and once you've searched a route and close the the browser, the next time the price changes. I've seen it in air, and other booking vendors, so I always clear my cookies.
+ The prices of air get released late Monday night, meaning airlines will begin to lower their prices on Tuesday and it usually sticks to that price point until early Thursday. Saturdays are typically the most expensive times to buy. I will even set a Google price alert for flights.
+ Sign up for airline emails. I know a bunch of emails can be a hassle, but when airlines like JetBlue releases their saver flights, you'll be the first to know.
+ Credit card points are king. Many credit card companies give bonus points for signing up, like 30,000 points which is a roundtrip ticket in the US or a leg to Europe if booked far enough in advance.