Online Travel Auctions

There are many ways to save money on domestic and international travel. One that is often overlooked: Travel Auctions.

If you’re preparing to look into cheap airfares be sure to look beyond the airline websites and places like Expedia, Orbitz, and Travelocity.

Online travel auctions are often where you’ll find the best airfare deals plus travel packages that include hotel and potentially other benefits.

eBay provides what might be the most popular travel auction on the Internet. Their travel auction page is a great place to bid on vacation packages, rental car deals, hotel discounts, vacation rentals, and other kinds of lodging deals (i.e., bed and breakfasts, timeshares, etc.). You can also bid on cruises! Become an eBay member for free by signing up on their site, then monitor the travel auction page for deals that interest you.

A high end travel auction to keep in your favorites folder is Luxury Link, where you need to become a member, for free, in order to bid. They offer single auctions, Dutch auctions, and what they call Best Shot auctions. In a single auction bidders are bidding on one travel package or item. The highest bidder wins when the travel auction closes. In a Dutch auction more than one of the same package or item is up for bid. If there are two items, then the two highest bidders win – and each pay the lowest offered price. If the two bids were $2,000 and $1,800, then each person pays $1,800. In a Best Shot auction, one or more of the same items are up for bid. You submit what you’re willing to pay, above the minimum and below the suggested retail price, and that’s it. All winning bidders will pay the lowest winning price.

Generous Adventures Travel Auctions, based in Homer, Alaska, bills itself as an all-travel benefit auction. They auction primary donated travel items, from accommodations and unusual travel packages to whale watching trips, river rafting adventures, and eco-tours. It’s very possible to get good deals, and everyone comes out a winner. Those donating travel items get good publicity, the beneficiaries get needed money, and you…might get a great deal. Look at their list of travel auction beneficiaries, which changes all the time.

Of course, there are many other travel auction websites. Bidding for Good is similar to Generous Adventures, in that some monies from travel auctions goes to charitable causes. SkyAuction, Priceline, … the list of travel auction sites is fairly lengthy.

A quick word of advice: check the fine print before purchasing items in a travel auction.

The ‘deal of the century’ could turn out to be a bust if you’re not careful.

Inquire about blackout dates and beware of various fees and added charges that could boost the cost of the deal well above your winning travel auction bid.

More advice? Before making a purchase on eBay or any other travel auction website you should check out prices elsewhere to ensure that you’re actually getting a great deal. Price out airfare, hotel, and rental car separately and compare.

Whether you’re new to travel bidding or a travel auction veteran, take a trip to the Better Bidding message board. Register for free, then get Priceline and Hotwire travel auction bidding best practices and lots of tips for getting great travel auction deals.

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