How to Find the Best Fall Travel Deals on the Social Web

Another great way to get access to multiple hotel and attraction deals at once is to follow the social networking profiles of a company with many properties, like Joi De Vivre Hotels, Mandarin Oriental Hotels and W Hotels, who have locations around the world and loyalty programs that can mean big discounts during the off season. These sorts of deals are also starting to pop up more and more on services Foursquare and Whrrl, as hotels look to capitalize on the popularity of location-based social networks by offering special rewards to customers who check in regularly. Similarly, you can sign up for TopGuest, a service that turns check-ins from all of your services – including Twitter, Facebook and Gowalla – into points that earn you perks from any hotel loyalty programs you're a member of.

Finally, if you have a specific destination in mind, one of the best quick tricks for tracking down great lodging is to Google newly-opened hotels in the area. A brand new hotel looking to book up its rooms and build up its reputation is likely to charge a lot less in its first year or two than it will once it has already made a name for itself.

Housing

You could significantly cut your lodging costs by skipping the hotels entirely. For example, instead of booking a hotel, you can find a couch to crash on at CouchSurfing.org. Advocates of couchsurfing say it allows them to meet new people in the place they're traveling to and get access to locals-only experiences they may not have found otherwise. Plus, it's almost always a whole lot less expensive than a hotel room.

Alternatively, you can find someone to swap houses with at HomeExchange or HomeLink, and get the benefit of becoming a temporary resident of your vacation destination — cooking your own meals, interacting with neighbors and enjoying the comforts of a home — even if it's not your own. Even if you don't want to swap your home for a stranger's, you still have plenty of similar options at short-term vacation rental sites like AirBnB, VRBO and HomeAway, where you can often book lodging for a lot less than what you'd pay for a hotel, especially during non-peak travel times.

Either way, you'll likely pay less than what you'd shell out for a hotel room, and you'll definitely save money on meals and activities by having a "home base" where you can cook, eat and hang out. During the fall season, many more gorgeous vacation homes are available for rental, as their regular owners return to their full-time homes, making must-see destinations like the Hamptons more affordable for the average traveler.

Transportation

Once you get to your destination, you have to get around. Social media can save you money on that as well. Use Google Maps to plan public transportation routes in a strange city or save on cab fare by finding the fastest route to your destination. If you're driving yourself, use Bing's Gas Prices app to figure out the cheapest place to fuel up for your big trip. You can also use sites like ZimRide and RideShare to find people to share the driving load, and cost, on the way to your destination, or from one attraction to another.

While enroute, do some social media research on your destination, or use the time to sign up for Groupon, Gilt Groupe or LivingSocial to check out daily deals waiting for you when you arrive. Often, you'll find great prices on food and attractions this way. You can always cancel your subscription when you leave that city, if need be.

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