It’s easy to get caught up in the frenzy of post-Thanksgiving deals.
Airlines, hotels, tourist attractions and other travel companies want a piece of the shopping bonanza, too. They jumped on the Black Friday and Cyber Monday bandwagon several years ago and then extended the promotion with a day of their own, called Travel Tuesday.
Theme park giant SeaWorld even had a Black Friday presale this year, kicking off discounts on Nov. 15.
Snagging travel deals during the retail free-for-all comes with an added catch though: Unlike that $67.99 Instant Pot or $149 50-inch TV you scored during a doorbuster deal, you can’t return most travel purchases.
So it’s imperative to do your homework ahead of the sales.
6 Black Friday, Cyber Monday, Travel Tuesday travel deal shopping tips
1. Sketch out your travel wish list for 2020 (and in some cases, what’s left of 2019) so your search for discounts is focused, and a spontaneous purchase doesn’t tie you to a trip you’re not excited about.
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2. Research prices ahead of time, whether it’s a flight, hotel stay, vacation, theme park tickets or cruise. As with any sale, the posted discounts are often taken off the highest rates and not typical selling prices. Do your homework so when a Black Friday or Cyber Monday or Travel Tuesday special pops up, you’ll know whether it’s really a deal you need to jump on.
3. Check the fine print. before you start asking for days off. The travel dates for many deals are limited and/or restricted to off-peak periods. Some of SeaWorld’s ticket offers, for example, are only good for visits through January 2020. Many deals, especially hotel offers, are prepaid and nonrefundable, so you’ll be stuck if you hit buy too quickly.
4. Don’t forget about fees. At hotels, dig into nightly parking fees and those pesky resort fees. For airlines, research baggage fees, seat selection fees and other charges. And remember that a cheap airline ticket can still lead to a pricey trip.
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5. Shop around, especially for flights. Just because your favorite airline isn’t having a sale doesn’t mean they aren’t matching another airline’s Black Friday, Cyber Monday or Travel Tuesday deal. . Airlines are ultra-competitive and tend to match one another’s pricing on competing routes.
6. Not seeing a deal you like? Check your preferred airline, hotel chain, cruise line or destination’s website, mobile app and Facebook page and other social media channels for last-minute offers.