7 Secrets Travel Agents Don’t Want You To Know

As a former travel agent, I’ve learned a thing or three about finding the best deals.

The truth is, many travel agents do have tools (and connections) to help them find the best deal anywhere. They’re also armed with industry knowledge of routes, hubs and the best supplier for each.

But you know what?

Many travel agent “secrets” can be used by the public. And in this post I’ll share you with several simple tips to save you a hundred dollars (or more) on your next vacation.

Ready? Then let’s roll…

#1. Airline Consolidators

Also known as “bucket shops”, airline consolidators are where travel agents go to buy tickets. They’re sort of like a giant warehouse of airfares: travel agents routinely buy tickets from consolidators and mark it up to boost their commission.

Which doesn’t do much for you, does it?

Instead, you can deal with (some) consolidators directly.

Here are just a few to get you started:


#2. Clear your Cookies

Have you ever found a cheap flight, only to find it’s gone up – a lot – just a few hours later? Clear your cookies and try again. Sometimes (but not always) you’ll see the old price. It’s a trick booking sites use to get you to buy now – and it works. You see the price has gone up and buy to prevent paying more tomorrow.

(Note: Sometimes airfares do go up on their own, so this isn’t fail-safe. But give it a shot – you never know!)

#3. Think Globally, Book Locally

Local providers are almost always cheaper and – thanks to the Internet – you can book with them directly instead of paying the middleman.

For example, let’s say you want to rent a car while traveling in New Zealand. Simply Google “local car rental Auckland, New Zealand” and you’ll have dozens of options to choose from!

#4. Be Very, Very Flexible

It’s possible to save over a hundred dollars if you can fly a few days early (or later). This is especially true for international flights, both due to its distance and holidays you aren’t aware of!

#5. Book Six Months In Advance

A rule of thumb I learned as a travel agent: always book in advance. The only exception? You’re planning a last-minute trip or found yourself inspired to go somewhere new.

A recent report from the New York Times revealed the best time to purchase tickets is roughly 21 – 24 weeks in advance. You can wind up paying significantly more if you wait – so if you’re ready, act now!

#6. Buy Your Tickets On Wednesday

Hat tip to Peter Greenberg for this one.

To summarize his article, fare wars between airlines start on Friday, and Wednesday is usually when airlines are willing go the lowest (before the weekly process begins again on Friday).

#7. Leverage the Cheapest Hubs

All airlines run the majority of their flights from one or more hubs. For example, American Airlines’ main hub is Dallas, while Delta’s is in Detroit (both airlines have multiple hubs, these are just examples).

Next time you’re booking your flights, check for flights to major hubs first. Then see if it’s cheaper to purchase a ticket there and an onward ticket versus a direct flight. You can see a whole list of hubs here.

So there you have it: seven simple secrets travel agents have used for years. Now it’s your turn!

What tips do you have for saving money on flights? Let us know in the comments below!

Adam Costa is Editor in Chief of Trekity, a free travel inspiration website and co-founder of the Travel Blogger Academy, which helps people build successful travel blogs. Follow Adam on Twitter.

travel pics

books by Nancy Sathre-Vogel

About Nancy Sathre-Vogel

After 21 years as a classroom teacher, Nancy Sathre-Vogel finally woke up and realized that life was too short to spend it all with other people's kids. She and her husband quit their jobs and, together with their twin sons, climbed aboard bicycles to see the world. They enjoyed four years cycling as a family - three of them riding from Alaska to Argentina and one exploring the USA and Mexico. Now they are back in Idaho, putting down roots, enjoying life at home, and living a different type of adventure. It's a fairly sure bet that you'll find her either writing on her computer or creating fantastical pieces with the beads she's collected all over the world.

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10 Responses to 7 Secrets Travel Agents Don’t Want You To Know

  1. Lisa Wood July 18, 2012 at 6:58 am #

    Wished we had realised this last time we went to Melbourne by plane! We wondered how the tickets could have gone up so much in a few days time – will have to remember to clear our cookies 🙂
    Great tips – and yeah if we book ahead by four weeks its way cheaper for our family of six to travel.

  2. Anton July 18, 2012 at 12:20 pm #

    Nice article. In regards to all those travel sites, there seem to be just way too many and when I finish visiting 10th site, I forget what was the price on the first one .

    I hope you don’t consider this to be a spam, just wanted to share little web-site that I’ve done to compare all agents, consolidators, meta searchers and airlines in one place and save the cheapest price. It’s as simple as excel spreadsheet. Hope you can review it, I would really appreciate your opinion on the web-site. It’s still very young and needs a lot more features, but it least there is no ads ; ) Please take a look: http://www.wayanyway.com



  3. Victoria July 18, 2012 at 5:48 pm #

    Thanks Nancy. These are great tips. I had never thought of clearing my cookies. I’ve been noticing that trick for years but never knew how to solve it. Thanks!

  4. Micki July 18, 2012 at 8:46 pm #

    Love these tips, guys. The list of airline consolidators is especially helpful! I’ll have to bookmark this when we look at flights later this year.

  5. with2kidsintow July 19, 2012 at 2:50 am #

    Great tips, particularly the one about the cookies–will have keep that one in mind! Thanks for sharing!

  6. jenny@atasteoftravel July 19, 2012 at 3:51 am #

    Great tips. I’ve often checked flights on another computer and found them lower. Now I’ll clear the cookies!!

  7. Izy Berry July 28, 2012 at 7:47 am #

    That’s so sneaky about the cookies – I never knew.

  8. Kellie Parry May 19, 2014 at 8:20 pm #

    Great post! Im just about to book a flight from Australia to the U.S so hopefully I can use some of these tricks and get it cheaper 🙂

  9. Jessica of Curiosity Travels May 20, 2014 at 5:59 am #

    I knew there was a best day to buy tickets but I didn’t know which. This is great to know!! I also need to remember to clear my cookies….I always forget!

  10. budget jan February 3, 2018 at 11:59 pm #

    Just found this post. Don’t know if the links are still relevant but I’m going to have a look. I did know about the clearing of the cookies.

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