Posted by: brittanyborseth | September 22, 2010

Nervous to make travel bookings online?

When you make a travel reservation do you get apprehensive about making the booking on your own? Would you rather call your local travel agent to make the reservation for you? If so, I have a few tips to help you become a bit more confident, so you are able to make bookings all by yourself. The most important thing you can do is be cautious, and don’t rush into making a booking. When you have a couple of hours to dedicate to making your reservation we can get started.

I recommend researching through Google searches, blogs and other websites you are able to find to get all the information before you travel. There are many blogs that are written from people who have experienced the destination you are interested in first hand. They will give you tips on where to go, what to do, what to avoid and more. This enables you to make decisions and have the best possible vacation. People don’t realize that there are sometimes places close to where you are planning to travel that are inexpensive, and an amazing experience to go to if you knew it existed. This brings me to tip my first tip:

#1 Do your research

If everyone going on the vacations takes a few hours of their time to do research on the area you are traveling to it can be well worth it and add to your experience. Check reviews on the airline and website you are booking on to make sure there are no red flags.  Also make sure you understand the baggage policies of the airline, so you are not paying additional fees that are unexpected.

#2 Check dates and airports other than where you originally planned to travel

If you are taking a cruise or going on a vacation based on dates and airports someone else has already programmed in your mind, then you may miss out on alternative options. I recommend being very open and flexible in you’re searching — check dates around your original schedule, and always keep the options open (‘anytime’ verses ‘morning’, leave the number of stops to what the website defaults to).

If there is an option to check surrounding cities — do it! The least expensive days of the week to travel is Tuesdays and Wednesdays, but if these days are not an option for you then check what is an option for you. If you want to travel to Cancun, Mexico just because you have heard it is a popular beach destination then you may want to check other beach destinations as they may be less expensive (again, do your research). If it means having to change your work schedule around, not taking the same flight as your friends, staying in an unfamiliar city alone for an extra day or something else that may be holding you back it doesn’t hurt to check your options.

#3 Airlines websites directly offer deals and last-minute fares

It may be worth your time checking for deals and last-minute fares as they can save you a lot of money. Many airline websites offer weekly last-minute deals that are very inexpensive if you are aware of them and know when they post. For example, some airlines post deals every Tuesday at 11:59pm and they make you aware of this, so you have a first come first serve opportunity. Websites typically have an electronic newsletter you can subscribe to so you have these details in advance to be ready for the best deals.

#4 Be cautious and check all information

When you are ready to make your booking — slow down and review. There are only a few pages of information to fill out and it is critical that what you enter is correct. You may have been searching for flights over the last week and know exactly what you want. However, websites update constantly and you may miss a minor detail that has changed since you last searched. Check over all dates, number of passengers, flight times, city pairs before selecting your itinerary. After selecting your itinerary, review all of the information again before continuing.

Now for the most important part — make sure the passengers name are correct and match their government issued id. After your booking is complete you cannot change the passenger’s name for security purposes (in rare occasions you can but it is a very difficult process that takes hours of your time). If the credit card holders name is different from the passenger’s name make sure you enter all information correctly in the appropriate box’s. If you flip this information around or make any errors it could cause the credit card to be declined, which delays your ticket from being issued (no fare or availability is guaranteed until the ticket is issued). Lastly, check the rules of the ticket. If you have to make changes, a cancellation or have an unexpected emergency do you know what the fees will be to do so? The ticket may be non-refundable, no changes allowed, have very high change fees or another restricted policy that is unexpected. Don’t assume all rules are the same because every ticket has different rules and you should be aware of what they are before booking.

#5 People make mistakes

After you have completed your booking, check your email confirmation and make sure you have received it. If there is anything incorrect, call the airline or website directly immediately. Many websites allow a 24-hour time frame, in which you can cancel with little to no penalty. If you receive the email and all of the details are correct, wait for the final ticketing confirmation and receipt. This ensures your reservation is complete and has been charged to your credit card. It is very important this is received to ensure you have a valid reservation.

After all of these steps are complete you have successfully made the reservation. You have saved money and made a thorough decision that you feel good about. Now all that is left is to make sure to confirm the reservation with the airline 72 hours prior to travel to make sure you are confirmed and there have been no changes since you originally made the booking. You will be an expert in no time if you follow these steps every time you book.

If anyone has any experiences making their first booking online alone comment and tell us about it.

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