Ask not what deals are available for your dates, but what dates are available for good deals…

Sorry, but with few exceptions – you’ve been doing it all wrong. You ask about how to get the best travel deals while traveling during the three busiest weekends of the year, when the words deal and travel are like oil and vinegar. Sure, you’ve got places to go, and it’s a lot easier to take national holidays as vacation days than burn them – but what are your vacation days for anyway? Airlines and hotels have an industry lingo buzzword right now, and it’s “distressed inventory”. If you really want to travel in style, or just get a great deal, it’s your ticket…

One Exception

If you have kids in school at a critical point in their learning, you’re excused. For everyone else, stop being so selfish. Don’t ask what deals are available for your dates, but what dates deals are available – and plan from there. The best travel deals often center around shoulder season, off peak, super off peak and sometimes, just a couple completely random days of the year when planes aren’t full. Before you say “well who wants to go off peak”, you should really think twice. Distressed inventory for travel companies is brilliant opportunity for you.

Distressed Inventory

Laos is H-O-T in July. With that in mind, tourist flocks from November to March when it’s a bit cooler and less humid. Fair enough. But for the best scenery, greenery and price, going off peak is the ticket, not only for flights – but also hotels, tours, experiences and satisfaction. Whereas Europe in Summer is extortionately expensive, Southeast Asia is a bargain. The point: you need to find distressed inventory by planning your trips almost counterintuitively. Is Europe any less delightful in winter? Absolutely not, and it’s less than half the price you’ll find for just about anything in summer.

Work Backwards

Sometimes the best way to travel is to work backwards. Start with a deal you adore, then figure out the rest. Every day, amazing flight deals are launched, last a few hours and disappear. People miss out because they don’t make timely decisions, and then kick themselves when they figure out that it’s not really that hard to find work cover for a trip four months off.  If you find a deal from your wildest dreams, book it. Speaking of which…

Find It

For kicks, you should play around on Google Flights every once in a while. If you do, we’ve got tips. On Google Flights, you can view two calendar months of prices at a time, with the lowest prices found in green. There are times when one or two dates of the year will be hundreds, if not thousands lower than others. There will also be times where business class on certain dates is lower than you’d pay for economy during typical holidays and mid summer travel. Hello? Flat beds for the same price as cramped bagless legroom? We’ll take it.

Actually New

Why not leave tomorrow? If this is all sounding like something you’ve heard before, you’re not entirely wrong – but you’re not right either.  To tackle “distressed inventory”, otherwise known as days or flights when bookings aren’t great, travel companies are abandoning the old draconian “21 day advanced purchase”, or “Saturday stay over rules”. They’re also creating custom prices, just for those “at risk” dates, rather than just loading in one price for the season.  The methods for handling distressed inventory bring interesting questions, like…

Travel Flexibility

Being flexible has been great travel advice forever, but the amount of time and effort travel companies are putting into actually creating opportunities has never been greater. Maybe it’s a 3 hour flash sale, or a spontaneous upgrade opportunity, but however you slice it you win. And to be clear, we’ll let you know when. Airlines and hotels don’t believe in off days, and if one’s on the edge, it’s probably the best time to book. Just look out for Hurricane season, because that would suck…