The fine print that's tacked onto travel offers can be confusing to say the least, but when it comes to figuring out whether or not you're getting a real deal, channel something you're very familiar with — grocery shopping. Determining the value of travel promotions is a little bit like paying attention to the unit prices on supermarket products. Put the fine print aside for a moment, and focus on the numbers.
Travel writers Suzanne Rowan Kelleher and Katrina Brown Hunt suggest comparing apples to apples to figure out whether or not a deal is actually a deal. They use the "5th Night Free Plus $100" at the Wyndham Sugar Bay in St. Thomas as an example. The duo explains, the "package rate starts at $219 a night, compared to the lowest available rate of $170 a night, which is an advanced-purchase nonrefundable rate. Even after you subtract the cost of the free night, you'd pay $876 for a five-night stay, versus the $850 you’d pay for five nights at the advanced purchase rate."
Next time you're about to book a trip, take the time to compare nightly rates at the same hotel and for the same days. You might be surprised to find more savings outside the promotional hype.