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Get Away! Find Travel Deals with Social Media
By: Caitlin Quarles
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Quick show of hands: who has ever purchased airline tickets from an actual counter in the airport? Not many of you, I presume.

So, if you do travel, how do you do it? Do you fly, rent vehicles, or hop on a bus? Most likely, the tickets were purchased online, via a third-party site such as Kayak or Orbitz, or perhaps even the company’s own site, such as Megabus.

In an economy like the one we’re in right now (that is, jobs are harder to come by, raises and bonuses are few and far between, and DIY is more worthy of a high five than paying top dollar), travel is a “someday” luxury that few can only dream about. That, my friends, is false.

Traveling, whether it’s relaxing on a beach for a few quiet days or finally seeing the “Mona Lisa” in person, is important. It’s vital that we, as human beings and naturally curious creatures, experience as much as we can in our short stay here on earth. Anyway, this isn’t a post for a travel brochure, but rather to utilize social media and the Internet to our advantage in order to be able to see the sights we’ve only dreamed about.

At the risk of either sounding extremely naive or irritatingly condescending, it’s important to do your homework and learn about the different travel options that are available at no cost to you. Set up an airfare alert to let you know when inexpensive flights to certain regions become available. Sites like Travelzoo will compile a weekly list of discounted destinations, inclusive of airfare and hotel, right to your inbox, and at least once a week send a “flash sale” email, which alerts the recipient to airfare over 50% off the going rate, pending the “deal” is purchased on or before a specific date. I’ve discussed the negative aspects of deal sites before, but I believe being aware of travel deals (especially airfare) is beneficial, as long as the site is reputable. Recently, a “flash sale” deal on Virgin Atlantic became available for a round-trip flight from Philadelphia to London for $460 during the holiday season — over $700 cheaper than the tickets I had looked up the previous evening. On the other hand, calling the airline directly is worth a shot, too. In an effort to remain competitive with deal sites, many airlines will offer the lowest competitive rate for certain flights. While these deals may not be conducive to an impulse shopper on a budget, to those who wish to travel but may lack the financial means necessary, they’re a godsend.

Travel experts are aware that the industry is changing, and social media is playing an important role in this change. The standard “shop on Tuesday; avoid the weekend” is falling by the wayside. Use the resources made available to you: comparison shop, read reviews, sign up for email alerts, follow airlines and discounted ticket sites on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and the like, and be ready to bust open the piggy bank you’ve set aside when your dream vacation finally becomes a reality.

As for packing...you're on your own.

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About the Author
Caitlin Quarles is the founder and owner of CEQ Consulting, a freelance editorial company based in Pennsylvania. Traveling, cheese, and dogs make her happy. Find her online here.
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