Travel agencies say there are still deals to be had on great vacation trips, if people are flexible and open to considering alternatives you might not have thought about. (Photo by THE CANADIAN PRESS)

Summer travel deals require flexibility if you want to find a deal

OTTAWA — As social media feeds fill up with pictures of friends and family on vacation and last-minute deals on flights become harder to score, the fear of missing out is real for procrastinators who have not yet booked their summer holiday.

But Elyshia Derbach of Flight Centre says there are still deals to be had on great trips, if you are flexible and open to considering alternatives you might not have thought about.

“That flexibility that you have is going to mean that it will open up availability in the marketplace, whether that be at the hotel, on the plane or on the tour that you’re looking to go for,” said Derbach, team leader at one of the travel agency’s offices in Ottawa.

Being open to different styles of travel than what you’re used to, such as a cruise or tour, could also help score you a deal, she added.

“Sometimes that type of travel is still looking to fill a few spots, so you might just get the deal that you were hoping for,” she said.

Before starting your search, Derbach says it is important to know when you are able to travel. Some deals come and go quickly, she says, so if you’re looking for a deal you might want to avoid having to check with your boss or travel partners before you book.

“Taking that amount of time even though it may only be overnight, could potentially mean that either the availability has changed or that the price has changed or that it might no longer be available,” she said.

Lara Barlow, general manager of Travelzoo Canada, says summer is the peak travel season for Canada, but other destinations may offer a better deal.

“If you can handle heat and the sun, you can get some really good deals over the summer in the Caribbean,” she said.

Barlow said destinations such as Whistler, B.C., best known as a ski resort and venue for the 2010 Winter Olympics, have plenty to offer in the summer.

“It is wild in Whistler in the summer,” she said.

For those who love a road trip, Barlow recommends against walking up the front desk of a hotel and asking if they have a room.

“Even if you’re sitting in the parking lot, call in, never walk up and try to book, because you will save just by calling in,” she said, adding that hotel rates are generally cheaper during the week compared with the weekend.

Barlow said looking for hotels that don’t charge resort fees and offer free breakfast may help reduce costs, while signing up for a hotel chain’s rewards program may give you free wireless internet access.

Travel apps and deal websites can also save you a few bucks.

Barlow suggests booking some of your activities ahead of time can save you money. Sites like Travelzoo and Groupon offer city-specific deals that can help you save on restaurants and activities.

Meanwhile, sites like Ydeals.com post flight deals originating from a wide range of cities across Canada and apps like Hopper can also help show you what dates might offer you lower fares.

Other sites, such as Hotel Tonight, can help you score a last minute deal on a hotel.

But Derbach says it is best to plan ahead.

“Booking early is absolutely the key,” she said.

“It’s not possible for everybody and we’ll help you the best we can, but in future if you are able to, you’re going to go much further across the world than maybe you were able to.”

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