5 Online Travel Tools to Save Money and Time

We all need to save money and time these days.

This past summer, my family spent a lot of money and time on travel – but we also saved big bucks too, and we preserved our time by not spending a ridiculous amount of hours and days scouring the web and hunting down deals.

Instead, we focused on finding bargains quickly and efficiently.

Here are five online tools I use to strategically save money and time on travel.

1.    Priceline.com
My husband loves Priceline and so do I, for last-minute hotel deals at a great price. Say you want to spend a weekend in Washington D.C., Philadelphia, or any other major city in the U.S. Just log onto Priceline and bid 50% or more off the going nightly rate. Chances are you’ll score a deal that will save you a small fortune.

2.    Hotwire.com
Hotwire is another site my family uses for terrific travel bargains. It’s especially good for car rentals. When my sister came to visit us recently in New Jersey from Atlanta, she rented a car for an inexpensive $30 a day (in the Northeast, where cars are often $75 to $100 per day).

3.    Coupon code search
Whenever you want to save money on any travel-related product or service – airline tickets, cruises, taxi services or parking – you’d be wise to Google the term “coupon code” and the item you’re seeking. This search will turn up a laundry list of websites, like CouponCabin.com and RetailMeNot.com, that offer online coupon codes and discounts you can use to save money on your purchase.

4.    MileagePlus
MileagePlus is the shopping portal offered by United Airlines. Since I’m a frequent flyer and a MileagePlus Premier member, I’ll sometimes shop through United’s MileagePlus site for the extra perks and airline miles it offers.

For instance, when I wanted to buy three new pair of dance shoes for Zumba class, I first researched what I wanted, then decided to buy the shoes online at Shoes.com. It was just over $200 for the shoes. But instead of ordering them directly from Shoes.com, I ordered the shoes through United’s MileagePlus portal. My order still came from Shoes.com, but by going through MileagePlus, the purchase netted me 20 miles per dollar spent, or 4,000 miles.

Ultimately, that shoe transaction, along with a slew of other bonuses, purchases and airline travel I racked up in August 2012, got me over 26,000 award-travel miles – enough for a free domestic round trip airline ticket.

5.   RCI.com
I’ve had a timeshare for over 20 years and honestly, RCI.com (which lets you book timeshares all around the globe) isn’t the easiest site in the world to navigate. They’re constantly changing and trying to improve the website, but it could still be a lot more user-friendly, in my opinion.

Nevertheless, there’s no question that if you own a timeshare and you use RCI.com, you can keep a lot of loot in your pocket. It’s not uncommon for my family to book a two- or three-bedroom timeshare in Florida for a week for just $179. This includes trips planned well in advance, along with last-minute deals available through RCI’s “Last Call” inventory.

What are some travel tools you use to save time and money on travel?

This article originally appeared on AskTheMoneyCoach.com.

Lynnette Khalfani-Cox is a personal finance expert and co-founder of the free financial advice site, AskTheMoneyCoach.com. Follow Lynnette on Twitter at @themoneycoach.