The first time I ventured overseas I was 18 and worked two jobs to buy a return ticket to Phuket, Thailand. Determined to pay my own way, I spent hours trawling the internet in search of an airfare my teenage wage could afford. I came across an outrageously good deal on an obscure discount site and with just one click of the mouse, I saved hundreds of dollars.
Fast forward almost a decade and I've traveled to more than 30 countries—never once paying full price. I'm not the only one who gets a kick from securing the very best travel deal. There's a thriving online community of travelers who trade insider tips about the best way to find affordable flights.
Here, we tapped frequent fliers and travel experts in forums and on social media to find out which apps and websites they turn to for the very best deals. If you don't use these travel sites, you could be losing out.
This is where insiders find the very best flight, accommodation, and travel package deals.
The Flight Deal
I discovered The Flight Deal via word-of-mouth when traveling in Turkey and it's now one of my most-used sources. Sign up to the daily newsletter for a simple list of flash sales, with travel booking tips and insights.
Best deal: New York to Miami, for $69 round-trip.
Hopper scans data from billions of flights and alerts you when it's the best time to secure a booking. If you're flexible with travel dates use a service like Skyscanner or Kayak first. Then, enter your chosen dates in the Hopper app and set an alert to ensure you book when tickets are at their lowest.
"I have a watch on all my bucket list travels so I never miss a chance to getaway," says @caillylynne. "It nudges me toward my next adventure."
Best deal: Set a specific alert to compare options.
Secret Flying is ideal for international flights, says traveler Firda Beka via MyDomaine's Facebook page. The website doesn't require a sign-up or take a commission from bookings.
Instagram user @_madelinejean_ swears by Skiplagged for the best flight deals. "They hack the airline industry for single flights on multi-leg routes to find the best deals," she tells MyDomaine. "You have to fly carry-on only, but it's worth the savings!"
Best deal: New York to Los Angeles for $147 one way.
Despite the name, traveler @ellieshockett says this website has unbeatable flight deals for travelers of all ages. "Student Universe has some great prices! And you don't have to just be a student," she told us on Instagram.
Best deal: Los Angeles to Tokyo for $431 round-trip.
Instagram user @heathernicole_23 alerted us to Costco's extensive travel offering. The retail giant offers member deals on cruises, tours, and packages, so it's ideal if you're searching for an all-inclusive trip.
Best deal: Royal Caribbean seven-night Havana and Yucatán cruise for $1029.
Kid and Coe
The most popular response to our Instagram poll was Kid and Coe, a family-friendly travel website. "[It's] amazing for finding stylish family homes in amazing destinations (Yucatán peninsula, Amsterdam, Trancoso...) even within my young family budget," says @knsulli. "I'm always wanderlusting."