The sweet memories of summer vacation may be fading, but that doesn't mean travel season has to end too. In fact, fall is one of the best times to travel, as many airlines and hotels try to fill their books between the summer and winter vacation seasons.
?But, with rates falling faster than the autumn leaves, how do you hone in on the hottest deals happening right now? Fortunately, there are plenty of ways the social web can help you save money on major travel expenses like airfare, lodging and car rentals.
Read on for ways to save money on every leg of your trip, from take off to lights out.
Every airline, from JetBlue to United to Virgin, seems to be jumping on the social networking bandwagon these days. You can follow them all on Twitter or Facebook for good, last-minute deals on flights they're looking to fill. Check out these master lists of all the airlines on both networks to make finding your favorites even easier:
For a more diverse selection of deals, follow an aggregator like CheapestAirfare or AirFareWatchdog, which feature offers from multiple companies at once. There's also the Twitter-sanctioned EarlyBird account, which has previously featured major discounts from Twitter advertising partner JetBlue, and has plans to release more travel deals in the future.
Another good resource is FareCompare, a site where you can see a map of multiple Twitter-based airfare deals happening at the same time. You can also "Like" FareCompare on Facebook to get deals sent directly to your Facebook stream all day long. And, if there's a specific city that you like to visit or fly out of, you can find a feed from Fly.com that features fares for that particular place, like NYCFares, ChicagoFlightDeals and DenverFlightDeals. They even have a Twitter list of all their city-specific fare alerts, so you can browse deals from all over or find an account that's listing flights for your city of choice.
Aggregator sites are still the way to go when it comes to surfing for hotels on the web. Sure, a single hotel is likely to post some special offers on their site from time to time, but you're bound to get a better deal if you search multiple sites at once to compare their coupons.
Online coupon company EBates recently released a service that helps you do just that. Additionally, if you book through Ebates, you become eligible for easy cash back rebates on whatever you spend. Similar sites like Kayak, GetARoom and TravelZoo allow you to search all sorts of offers at the same time and quickly compare rates on everything from luxury hotel rooms to amusement park admissions.
Private sale site Jetsetter.com – an offshoot of Gilt Groupe – lets you sign up to receive exclusive e-mails full of deals and discounts from the best luxury travel brands. For luxury deals, you can also check out Off & Away, which lets you bid on high-end room rates in an eBay-style auction format. Many of these sites also offer RSS feeds, so you can keep a constant stream of assorted travel deals coming into your regular RSS reader.