The Internet is loaded with travel sales this weekend, and it will keep up through the holiday season. Sites from Expedia to major hotel chains are promising big savings this season–but beware the fine print. Just like stores, online companies lure you in with great-sounding deals, like 50% off hotel stays–but the deal is only valid for travel through January, or you have to pay in full now and incur hefty change fees that offset your savings if anything needs to change. Also, advertised rates rarely show the whole picture, excluding taxes and resorts fees that can easily add 25% or more, and usually put you in the lowest room category or cruise cabin, leaving you wishing for a costlier upgrade.
We love a good sale, as our shoe closet will attest. And we always keep an eye out for deals, especially for packages or airfare. (Southwest and Virgin offer great savings throughout the year.) But when something sounds too good to be true, chances are it usually is. Most travel sites use sales to get people to their websites, in hopes they’ll book outside of the sale. They’re looking out for themselves, not you.
Our two cents: If you’re looking for an impromptu getaway, flash sales can be great. For an investment trip like a high-end honeymoon, a multi-stop itinerary or for group travel such as a destination wedding, skip the sale and work with someone who can help you find the best value for your trip, combined with the best service and room picks.