Caribbean all-inclusive resorts are on sale at Expedia.com

DreamsPuntaCanaThere is no doubt that all-inclusive resorts in the Caribbean are booming, and they build more fabulous new hotels each year. As a result of this building boom, the competition among resorts to fill their rooms remains very high, even with more new guests coming all the time. You can use this to your advantage as long as you remain flexible and keep an open mind for the best deal.

If you are trying to get the best vacation for a modest price then you are going to want to focus on the resorts in the Punta Cana area of the Dominican Republic, and the Cancun, Cozumel, Playa del Carmen area of Mexico. Those two regions have well over half of all of the all-inclusive resorts in the Caribbean, and they both have large and busy airports with cheap airfares as well.

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Save an extra 5% off low-priced Europe hotel rooms with this code

AmsterdamHotelI'm posting this deal and special promo code, partly because I'm going to be using it myself on a long Europe trip in the coming months. You may not have heard of Venere.com, which is based in Italy and has been fully owned by Expedia since 2008, but you should know about them. Venere has excellent coverage of Europe hotels and they also offer the best rates of any online travel agency. The only site that comes close is booking.com (owned by Priceline), but for the rest of the year Venere has an advantage because they are offering an extra 5% discount on hotels.

The short version: Venere.com already has the best prices on Europe hotel rooms, and with the code below you save 5% more.

>>>Save 5% on your Venere.com booking with the code CJ5VENERE

The timing for me personally is perfect because I am going to spend almost 4 months in late 2014 going from one hotel to another on a long research trip. What I typically do is check for hotel rates on Kayak.com and then when I choose a property I see which site Kayak is sending me to for the cheapest price. In Europe, Venere.com is usually the cheapest or tied for the cheapest, so I book with them a lot as it is.

Now I'll do the same thing, but I'll be booking with Venere in almost every case because the 5% will almost always make them cheapest. My guess is that Venere is just trying to raise awareness among non-European consumers (they are already well known in Europe), so they are taking 5% out of the commission they earn for each booking for the publicity. If you find a lower price elsewhere, take it, but this is going to be the best deal most of the time, at least through the end of 2014.

Groupon’s localized travel offers are very impressive

Mirage400To be honest, I've been very skeptical about Groupon and other “flash sale” sites since the beginning, but I must admit that one area where they should continue to be strong is with travel deals. The problem with their normal “local” deals is that the retailer only gets around 25% of their normal retail price, and only a few businesses can actually profit doing that. You might get perpetual offers for yoga studios or for certain treatments and struggling nail salons, but the real good deals can't stick around for long.

However, the travel marketplace is different because most destinations have low seasons and even less-busy days of the week during all seasons. Groupon is well suited to present these offers because most people only visit a hotel once, so if it comes at a huge discount they aren't expecting to get that same low rate in the future. A hotel can offer rooms at 50% off (even if they only get half of it) when they are fairly sure it was going to be empty that night anyway. Click to read more

Cancun vacation packages are US$100 or more off right now

Cancun beachWith summer officially over in September, most of the vacation talk is focusing on warm weather destinations for the winter. You may not realize this, but few months before December are the slowest in most sections of the travel industry, so they are also the easiest time to get big discounts. They know that most people will only book a winter trip this early if they are offered a big discount, so that's exactly what they do.

Whether you are in the US, Canada, or even Europe, your best and closest winter destination is going to be the Caribbean. There are some islands that have affordable resorts including the Dominican Republic and Jamaica, but the best deals are going to be found in Cancun and the area to its south, which has many hundreds of beach resorts. Right now you can take advantage of the slow season by taking at least US$100 off any package to Cancun, although most have much steeper discounts. Click to read more

Hostels are now on sale: Book soon to lock in up to 50% off

While July and August are considered to be the peak travel months, they are also the time when hostel-booking slows down after peaking in June. For this reason, hostelbookers.com is running a sale where many of the most popular hostels in cities around the world have cut rates of up to 50% off for the time being. They are valid for stays in summer and beyond, so if you are planning a trip anytime for the rest of this year, it would be wise to lock in a top hostel at a bargain price.

Key facts to consider:

  1. Hostelworld has all the same hostels as its competitors, but is cheaper because it doesn't charge a booking fee.
  2. When booking a hostel through hostelbookers, you only put down 10% now and pay the balance on arrival.
  3. For that reason, it's wise to book your hostels on sale, even if there is a chance you'll change plans later.

>>>Up to 50% off sale at Hostelbookers.com Click to read more

Caribbean cruises in November starting at US$399 for 7 nights

As most people are still sorting out their summer plans, it's wise to remember that those who book early enough can snag incredible deals on autumn trips as well. Specifically I'm referring to Caribbean cruises, which are now offered at their lowest prices of the year, even for high-season trips in November through February. As mentioned in the headline, you can book a Caribbean cruise for as low as US$399 per person for a week, plus you get a bonus of some kind for booking early. The exterior cabins are of course a bit more expensive, but often only by a little.

Interestingly, the cruise companies play a little game with their best customers by having higher prices one full year early, as well as with just a few weeks to go. They know that many people like to book next year's trip right after coming home from this trip, or even on board this trip, and that they rarely mind paying $100 or so more for it. And people who wait until a few weeks to go will pay more as well, so the sweet spot for next winter's trips is now, in between.

>>>7 Day Caribbean Cruise starting at $399

We've actually done a little study of the cheapest Caribbean cruises, and the only better deal you might find is a limited itinerary out of New Orleans starting at US$349 for 7 nights. These proper Caribbean cruises with multiple desirable ports of call normally start at around $500 for 7 nights in high season, and if sales are strong they'll start even higher.

If you've been on a cruise you already know that the value is amazing because all meals are included and you don't need to spend extra on daytime tours if you aren't interested in them. These prices will probably be valid through summer, but after that they are likely to go up again.

Cancun all-inclusives at deep discounts in the coming months

Cancun beach resortThose of us who like to stretch our travel funds to get the most from them are aware that we can visit the Caribbean for next to nothing if we go in November, April, and May. It's true that most people are more motivated in the deep winter months, but you can honestly go once in November and again in April for about the same cost as going once in late December. Right now these resorts are almost all on sale, with discounts of up to 50% from the room rates just a month or two ago.

Not long ago we did a thorough comparison of the cheapest Caribbean destinations and also the cheapest Caribbean all-inclusive destinations, and Cancun topped the list for both. Even the Dominican Republic and Jamaica, which cost a bit more to fly to as well, don't quite compete with Cancun. The reasons are simple. Cancun is by far the most popular Caribbean destination so they've built many hundreds of resorts in one small area, and it's cheaper for resorts to get labor and supplies in Cancun compared to the islands where only fruit and seafood are abundant.

>>>Instant Cancun Savings – $100 Off!

The link above will take you to Cheap Caribbean, which actually offers far greater discounts than the US$100 promised right now. They mostly are offering all-inclusive resorts that average to less than US$200 per night per couple, with airfare included in the package. It can look confusing at first, but airfare to Cancun will be around US$300 to US$400 per person, but they roll it into the package price. If you are curious just how the Cancun/Cozumel area stacks up among the islands, check out our list of the cheapest Caribbean all-inclusive resorts with good reviews.

The amazing thing is that the normal rule of thumb is that the all-inclusive option at a Caribbean resort will usually cost about US$200 per day per couple, so when you get the room AND the meals and drinks for that, you know you are getting a deal. It may sound like a lot per day, but consider if you were going to, say, Miami Beach instead, and you had 3 indulgent meals and unlimited drinks each day. It would cost US$100 per person just for dinner and a few drinks, so if you are the type who likes to enjoy yourself while on a tropical holiday, it doesn't take much to really take advantage of deals like this.

Student airfares to Europe for summer are on sale

Airfares across the North Atlantic are very high this summer as they have been for the last few, so everyone is looking for something a bit cheaper. I've written about this before and have had success with it myself on several occasions so I will once again point out that STA Travel offers bargain airfares on many routes for students. And just between you and me, it's pretty easy to qualify as a “student” even if you are on a little break.

STA Travel has been around for decades and they have a great reputation for prices and customer service, but they don't offer big discounts on every route. If you have a very specific itinerary in mind then you might have to get a bit lucky to find one of their best deals, but if you are flexible you'll probably save some money. Click to read more

Cheap student and teacher airfares to Europe and elsewhere

London Eye BaseWith many people starting to make their summer travel plans, it's a perfect time to mention that students and teachers can often get lower airfares than the rest of us if they know where to look. It feels like STA Travel, which has been around for decades, isn't discussed much these days when everyone does all their travel research on the internet, but they are still worth a look.

I've used STA Travel many times in the past, although mostly through their in-person offices, which I don't see as much anymore. Still, you can see on their website that they still offer great deals on airfare and even hotels and hostels. If you are shopping around for a flight and you know the best fares you can get elsewhere, you should try STA Travel to see if they can beat it. Click to read more

US to Europe roundtrip flights from US$564 in summer

Rome ViewOne of the most disturbing travel trends in the past few years is that summer airfares between the US and Europe have regularly topped US$1,000 roundtrip, even from New York City. While airline fuel isn't as expensive as it has been at other times recently, it's still pretty expensive, so the coming summer looks to be another pricey one.

Now, there are no magic websites that will sell flights for several hundred dollars less than any other, but there are a few sites that specialize in cheap international airfare, like Vayama. They've just released their latest batch of summer airfare deals, with prices from New York City to Europe starting at US$564 round-trip. Even if you are starting in some other city, there's a good chance that Vayama will save you at least US$20 on the flight, and maybe more.

>>>Flights from New York to Europe start at $554

What I typically do is check for the best airfare on Kayak.com or Momondo.com, and once I know that I check the specific flights on Vayama (link above) and Priceline.com. One of those last two usually has at least a slightly better deal, and sometimes they find a flight that the others missed that might be much cheaper.

Once you've checked them all, needless to say, you go with the lowest price. These are all big and trustworthy companies and if we always go with the cheapest it encourages them to keep undercutting each other. Vayama seems to have the lowest operating costs, so they usually do best, but not always.