Any percent off is a good percent…

If you’ve ever been surfing, you’re certainly familiar with the term “locals only”. It turns out, when it comes to booking hotels and plane tickets, things are pretty similar. There are examples all over the world where it can either be a lot more expensive, or a lot cheaper to be a local. Here’s how to become a “local” or a “foreigner” on the net, depending on which one will save you more money.

a black board with white text and yellow dotsLocality, Currency, Quirks

This isn’t going to work everywhere, for every ticket you buy. But one way or another it will work for many flight and hotel bookings, all over the world. The basic principle is that money is local. £240 does not equal $240, but to the people in each place it does. For that precise reason, the same hotel might be £240 on one booking site, or $240 on another. In case you weren’t aware, $240 is $85 less than £240. It’s all about where you’re clicking from, or where the site “thinks” you’re browsing from. The same goes for airline tickets. One price for people in one place, another for locals, or those booking in another currency.

Booking Hotels

Shopping around is crucial for every hotel purchase. It’s always smart to look at booking direct, but then it’s also smart to look at what online travel agencies have to offer. And then after that – it’s time to see what the different countries for each online travel agency offers. That’s right – switching from to could mean savings of $100s. If you have a VPN, or virtual private network, which allows you to appear to be connecting from different parts of the world, even better.

rows of seats in an airplaneBooking Flights

In parts of the world such as Southeast Asia and South America, there are two distinct prices. Locals pricing, and everyone else pricing. By using a VPN, you can make an airline website believe you’re logging in from a location in one of these countries. Just yesterday a reader got in touch, to thank us for a tip about using a VPN. The person was trying to book flights to Easter Island from Santiago, Chile. The main price quoted online was over $700. But when the reader turned on their VPN and selected Chile as the connection, the price reduced by over $500. Even without a VPN, using the same principle as the hotel booking, and changing from .com to another location, or just clicking a different version of the site, on the website itself, can make an impact.

Recommended VPN Services

A good VPN can be a great investment for many reasons, such as (shhh) watching TV in a country you may not technically be able to. A good VPN also always keeps your connection secure and private on the road, which is crucially important with the rise of data breaches and online scams. VPN’s such as ExpressVPN, HideMyAss and many others will allow you to appear to be in places all over the world, even if you’re just on your couch. The more frequently you travel, or the more travel you book the more a VPN pays off.

a group of currency bills and coinsIt’s Your Money

Does this sound like a lot of faff for potentially zero reward? Fair enough – it could be. The point is, it’s your money and you may be able to unlock better hotels, better flights or at least savings on the things you like, by experimenting. Why not book the five star option for the same price you were going to pay for the four star? Or why book the connecting flight when you can now take the direct flight for free – or perhaps fly business for what you were going to pay for economy. Is it worth a try? Of course it is.

Featured image courtesy of Oberoi Shimla. 

Gilbert Ott

Gilbert Ott is an ever curious traveler and one of the world's leading travel experts. His adventures take him all over the globe, often spanning over 200,000 miles a year and his travel exploits are regularly...

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  1. When booking flights and hotels through a VPN do you need a credit card with a local address or just use any US Amex/Visa/M-C ?

  2. Good advice in general and this has worked well for me at times. However you need to caveat this to be sure and know any terms and conditions where one has to actually BE a local in order to travel on the purchased “locale price”. Peru is one example where LATAM has local Peru fares, but when checking in for the flight if you aren’t actually a Peru resident. In such case, you would be denied boarding. This isn’t all that common but it does occur in some locales.

  3. You always post such valuable and thinking outside the box articles. It’s why I come back again and again. Thank you!

  4. I was able to save $35 off my flight to Atlanta with ExpressVPN. It took a while hoping back n forth between different locations but it was well worth it.

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