Save Me Money: Shop around to get the best travel deal



Posted on October 27, 2009 at 10:51 AM

Updated Thursday, Nov 19 at 12:52 PM

One of our fabulous producers at KING 5, Elizabeth Berman, recently priced out - using the internet - a trip back to her home state of Tennessee. While we hate to see her leave us for even the briefest of times, we do want her to get a good deal.
Elizabeth found a wide variation in travel prices, depending on which Web site she checked. So we did our own travel test and, like Liz, found a dramatic difference in prices.
Our test parameters were these: A family of four (10-year-old twins!) leaving Seattle on Dec. 23 for Miami. Staying in Miami, with a rental car, until Dec. 29 and then returning home. Here are the results of our test:

High (United Airlines) - $4,776.93
Low (Priceline) - $2,531

The point to make here is that Priceline delivered results to a place called Cutler Ridge, Fla. That's 17 miles away from Miami. However, Priceline was still the lowest priced, even with a stay in Miami. That Priceline-Miami cost was $2654.
Here are the other web sites' totals, with the same travel parameters:

Orbitz - $3,633
Hotwire - $3,430
Book It - $3,428.75
Expedia - $3,413
Travelocity - $3,382
Priceline (Miami) - $2,654
Priceline (Cutler Ridge) - $2,531

That means a high/low difference - between United and Priceline - of $2,122.93. Between the travel web sites themselves, it was a $979 high/low difference.
(Note: other than Priceline's number one selection that plopped us in a Cutler Ridge hotel room, we took the default, or No. 1, result from each of the other sites. The hotel location and, in some cases, "star rating" varied. Those differences, in general, and the overall prices, in particular, show that you really should spend the extra time to shop around when planning your trip.)