Where I Find the Best Travel Deals & Some Amazing Deals Available Right Now

Recently I shared a post where I highlighted a few items I always take when I travel abroad. If you missed that post, you’ll find it here: 5 Essentials for Traveling Internationally.

I love the comments you leave on posts–always learn new things from you with each and every post. The interactions and discussions in the comments are wonderful, appreciate those so much.

On that particular post linked above, Joyce left this question:

I love the wide variety of down to earth topics that you blog about that we all encounter in our everyday life and travels. I would enjoy a post on your preferred travel companies to follow for planning trips and to be on the lookout for “last minute travel deals.” I know you have mentioned a few travel agencies here and there but if they were consolidated in one blog post that would be helpful. Thanks so much for sharing your ups and downs, extensive product research and shopping sources!!!

In today’s post, I’ll try to answer Joyce’s question, as well as share a few travel tips that you may find helpful. I just started traveling back in the fall of 2015, so I’m still discovering new ways/sources for travel. When I first started traveling, I tried to entice a few friends to join me, but the majority had already been to the places I wanted to travel, some more than once. Or, they just couldn’t commit on such short notice as I discovered great last-minute travel deals. I can be a planner, but I’m also very much a spur-of-the-moment person if an awesome travel deal comes along.

If you have a desire to travel and see this big, beautiful world, but your friends and/or family can’t go, go without them! Just book a guided tour with a group, preferably a small group. You’ll only be alone during the plane flight over. Once you meet up with your guide and the rest of the group, you’ll have a lot of new acquaintances, some of whom may even become friends and future travel buddies!

Here’s how I’ve booked the trips I’ve taken with some tips on finding the best travel deals:

Kenya, September 2015: This trip was booked via Mahlatini and I stayed at Richard Branson’s Safari Resort, Mahali Mzuri. That was followed by a brief stay at Giraffe Manor. I let Mahlatini handle everything and though it was the most expensive trip I’ve taken so far if you calculate the “cost-per-day,” it was also the most memorable and still my favorite of all the trips I’ve taken. Such a wonderful adventure, a once-in-a-lifetime experience!

 

It did help that Mahali Mzuri had a special rate going where you got one night free if you booked a 3 (or was it 4?) night stay.

 

You’ll find all the posts I shared about that African adventure here: Kenya, Africa. Scroll down to the bottom of that category page where you’ll find the first posts about the trip. They are linked on that page from most recent to oldest.

 

Italy & Amalfi Coast, October 2015: Booked via Grand Circle Travel, this was a last-minute travel deal, abbreviated as LMTD throughout this post. This was a great trip, but unfortunately, it rained almost every single day. Ugh.

 

This was very much a “sampler” trip, as we visited so many different places across Italy. I would love to go back to Italy during the summer when the sun is shining and everything is nice and green. Definitely hope to do that one day!

 

You’ll find all Grand Circle Travel’s Last-Minute travel Deals listed here: Grand Circle Travel Last Minute Travel Deals.

Pssst: If you decide to book a trip with them, give my “customer number” as your referral, and they will give you $100 off any trip you book. They will also do the same for me, so thanks in advance for that! My Customer Number is: 2634289.

This one to Ireland looks especially interesting because it’s for 14 days and includes airfare for just $3,095! Awesome deal!

 

Also like this one to England, Scotland, and Wales for $2,295 for 15 days.

 

This one that’s a river cruise down the Seine from Paris to Normandy is also an excellent deal at $2,195. You’ll find many more listed on their LMTD page here:  Grand Circle Travel Last Minute Travel Deals.

 

You’ll find all the posts I shared about my trip to Italy with GCT here: Italy and Amalfi Coast. Scroll down to the bottom of that category page where you’ll find the first posts about that trip. They are linked on that page from most recent to oldest.

 

 

Key West & Cozumel, November 2015: This was the Property Brothers Design Cruise and sadly, this was probably my least favorite trip of all the ones I’ve taken, although I did make some lovely friends on that trip. The ship was old, the decor was very dated, my bathroom was the pits (literally as the floor was flexing and sinking downward…scary!) and we had very, very little time in the two locals we visited: Cozumel and Key West. We literally spent only a few hours at each place.

Looking starstruck! lol

 

It was a ton of hours spent sailing and riding a bus for the tiny amount of time we had in each place. Glad I went, but I don’t plan to go on another cruise of that type. I don’t think I’m much of a cruise person anyway…no offense if you are, though. I know some people really love them! You’ll find the few posts I created about this trip linked at this category page: Mexico.

Party Drink in a Coconut Shell

 

 

Holland-Belgium, April 2016: Booked via Vantage Deluxe World Travel, a last-minute travel deal. After taking this trip, which I did enjoy, I bookmarked Vantage’s Last Minute Travel Deals page to refer back to from time to time. Oddly, which I check it, sometimes the page just isn’t there, then a few days later, the page will reappear. That happened last night as I was working on this post, found a bunch of random code when I visited my bookmarked Vantage LMTD link, but today, the LMTD page is back.

One thing I really like about Vantage’s LMTD is they often include airfare into the cost of the trip. Love that! One thing I don’t like is they are not very solo-travel friendly. In all the times I’ve called to inquire about a LMTD, only once did they have a single room available, and that was the one trip I took. All the other times I was told I would have had to pay double for a two-person room.

 

Sometimes they actually try to hide the LMTD from you. True Story: I bookmarked their LMTD’s page after I took my first trip with them. Occasionally, I would check it to see what trips they had listed. One day I saw a trip that interested me and called, hoping to book the trip. I was chastised by the Vantage sales person who demanded to know how I had found that deal on their website.

I told her I had bookmarked their LMTD page and found it when I visited the link. She angrily replied, “That page is supposed to be hidden, we’ve removed the link to it from our homepage.” Huh? She was so annoyed that I had bookmarked the link to the page and had found it despite the fact the link wasn’t available on their homepage. Why in the world even have LMTD listed on your site showing trips available, if you don’t want people to find them? I think the photo below sums up how I felt about that customer service experience. 😉

Read more about these Gapers and Yawners in this post: Whimsical and Just a Little Weird: The Strangest Thing I Saw in Holland.

Yawners and Gapers, Zuiderzee Museum, Enkhuizen, North Holland

I haven’t traveled with them since that first trip, but despite that horrible customer service experience, I would probably consider a future trip if the price was right since I enjoyed the one and only trip I’ve taken with them. Again, I don’t consider them to be very solo-travel friendly, but if you always travel with a hubby/partner/friend, let me know and I’ll give you the link to their secret Last Minute Travel Deals page that just came back up today. Shhh, don’t tell anyone, though!  😉

You’ll find all my posts about the Holland-Belgium trip linked here: Holland-Belgium. Scroll down to the bottom of that category page where you’ll find the first posts about that trip. They are linked on that page from most recent to oldest.

 

Morocco, March 2017: Booked via Overseas Adventure Travel, whose parent company is Grand Circle Travel. OAT is one of my favorites for travel because they limit the size of their groups to no more than 16, and often it’s less than that. When I traveled with them to Morocco, we only had 14 in our group.

Gathered together for dinner under the stars in the Sahara Desert

 

Also, their trips tend to be more “adventure” oriented (hence the name) meaning you go to more exotic places, and because of the small group size, the trips are much more active than those you’ll find with their parent company, GCT.

Camel Ride in the Sahara, Morocco

 

We were on the go a lot in Morocco. We covered a lot of territory with plenty of time to explore everywhere we went. Due to the small group size, you tend to bond with each other quickly. I enjoyed that trip a lot, so I continue to stalk their LMTD page when I’m itching for a new adventure.

Atlas Mountains in the distance, Morocco

 

Here are a few of the awesome deals currently listed on their LMTD page. I want to take this one so badly!

 

This one is for 16 days and is only $1,595. I think it would cost that much to stay home for 16 days! lol

 

I really like this one, too! I’ve always wanted to visit Greece.

 

If you’ve always wanted to go on a safari, this is an amazing deal! It’s for 18 days! Would love to do this one, too!

 

You’ll find all their Last Minute Travel Deals here: Last-Minute Travel Deals. You’ll find all the posts I have shared about traveling to Morocco here: Morocco.

 

Ireland, August 2017:  Found and booked this Deluxe Irish Castle Tour on my own with, My Ireland Tour. I just Googled for Ireland tours hoping to find a really special trip and came across one that sounded like a dream.

 

In addition to touring beautiful Ireland, this trip has you staying in castles and manor homes each evening.

Ballynahinch Castle, Ireland

 

It was a great trip and it left me hoping to see more of Ireland in the future. I felt the cost of the trip was reasonable, especially considering the accommodations. You’ll find links to all the posts I shared about this trip to Ireland here: Ireland Castle Tour.

Lough Eske Castle after Nightfall

 

Germany, December 2017: Booked this trip via Grand Circle Travel since I wasn’t able to spend Christmas with family this past year. This was a great trip, right up until the moment I caught Influenza A which progressed into a severe case of bronchitis. Will definitely never forget that trip, but for all the wrong reasons. lol  Lesson learned: Don’t travel abroad during the height of flu season!

I did make some wonderful new friends on that trip before I got sick, and we have stayed in touch regarding future trips. Don’t be afraid to travel alone with any of the companies I’ve mentioned in this post. You will meet wonderful people and some will become life-long friends!

Christmas Markets, Cologne Germany, December 2017 06

 

You’ll find all Grand Circle Travel’s Last-Minute travel Deals listed here: Grand Circle Travel Last Minute Travel Deals.

As mentioned at the start of this post, if you decide to book a trip with them, please give my “customer number” as your referral, and they will give you $100 off any trip you book. They will also do the same for me, so thanks in advance for that! My Customer Number is: 2634289.

 

Summary: My Two Favorite Companies for Great Travel Deals

The two companies with whom I have traveled the most and have found have the best travel deals as well as the best customer service are Overseas Adventure Travel and Grand Circle Travel. Again, GCT is the parent company of OAT, so figures they would both have great customer service.

If I were booking a trip and traveling alone, I would definitely consider Overseas Adventure Travel (OAT) because I love their small group sizes and they are very solo-travel friendly, usually charging no single supplement. There are plenty of couples on their trips, too…they are not just for solo travelers, although there are usually several solo travelers on all their trips.

You’ll find their latest Last Minute Travel Deals here: Last-Minute Travel Deals. Be sure to check out their other adventures HERE because I think their pricing is very fair.

Grand Circle Travel (GCT) is also great for Last Minute Travel Deals, if you don’t mind larger size groups. You’ll find all their LMTD trips here: Grand Circle Travel Last Minute Travel Deals.

 

Upcoming Trips:

Egypt, October 2018:

Teresa, a wonderful friend I met via blogging, planned this Egyptian adventure. Teresa and I first met on the Vantage trip to Holland/Belgium and we hit it off immediately. She joined me again when I traveled to Ireland.

Teresa has traveled a lot more than I have but Egypt was one place we both had on our travel bucket list. I’ve always wanted to see the pyramids in person, so when she suggested this trip I was raring to go! I can’t wait to take you to Egypt with me!

I’ll post as much as possible while I’m there, but I know there will be times when the WiFi will be super slow or non-existent. If you would like to follow along, be sure to follow me on Instagram HERE because whenever I travel, I post photos frequently on Instagram when I come across WiFi in a hotel, restaurant or shop. I’ll do my best to not get sick this time and fall off the face of the earth. lol

What’s travel without a little adventure or a story to tell, right? 😉

Camel Ride in Sahara Desert

 

*If a post is sponsored or a product was provided at no charge, it will be stated in post. Some links may be affiliate links. *



 Never miss a Between Naps on the Porch post! 

*Subscribe to have updates delivered to your Inbox. 



Comments

  1. Cynthia GARRETT says:

    I have caught the travel bug too, Susan. As you know, my husband and I will be touring Egypt in March, 2019, and I really look forward to hearing all about your trip. The travel company that we use is called Gate 1 Travel. Their theme is “More of the World for Less.” When I booked our first trip with them, I was worried because the price (with airfare included) was ridiculous! I half expected that we’d be sleeping in tents, but instead everything was lovely. Can’t say enough about this fantastic company! Great prices, great customer service, great tours all over the world. Our guides are so gracious and professional. They have small group tours too. And they sponsor schools worldwide with their education foundation, which I love. Every Monday, they offer the Deal which is unheard of sales on a variety of tours. Here’s a link in case you or any of your readers is interested: https://www.gate1travel.com/
    We will never use any other company!

    • I’m glad you’ve had good experiences with them, their prices have always been way too high for a small group tour when I’ve checked them. For example, I just looked at a 12-day small group tour to Italy. It shows that it’s $3,749 for land only, which is pretty high for a 12-day trip. The small group tours with GCT and OAT are almost always 15-16 days. The price with air is $4419 but that’s if I am willing to book another separate flight up to New York to fly out of New York. Apparently, they have a deal worked out with the airlines there. I always fly out of Atlanta because it’s only 30 minutes from my home and I like to get my Delta points. If I select flying out of Atlanta at the Gateway website, that 12-day trip is well over $6,000! I don’t have that issue with GCT or OAT, I don’t have to pay a premium to fly out of Atlanta, the busiest airport in the world. I have the same issue when I’ve tried to book a trip with Virgin, to get their good prices, you have to fly out of NY or some airport that’s not convenient. Where do you fly out from when you travel with Gate 1?

      • Cynthia Garrett says:

        We don’t even consider small group tours and have been very happy with the regular tours which can be as many as 40 people on the bus. The bigger groups have never seemed too crowded. Maybe the hotels are less luxurious, but they have all been very nice and centrally located. We are going to Italy with Gate 1 in October on a twelve day tour and the total for both of us was $6,800 – and that includes round trip airfare from Austin Texas. We are equally far from Austin and Dallas and they will arrange flights for you from whichever airport you choose. You can even purchase the land tour and book your own flights if you want to do it that way. Sometimes on the weekly Deal, they will offer two for one prices of one of the land portion only of a variety of trips. If you have a friend to go with you, those two for one deals on the small group tours can save thousands!

        • Okay, I just tried another trip…the Small Group, 13 day Irish Heritage Trip for 1 Adult, leaving on 7-25-18 from Atlanta flying on Delta. The cost is $5688.53. That’s just too high for 1 person for 13 days.

          I love the small group because you can cover so much more territory and see so much more. You can go places that you just can’t go with a large 40-45 size group. You and your hubby may want to try a small group tour one day, just to see how you like it. I don’t mind the larger tours on a River Cruises, but when it’s mainly a land adventure, I really do like the small groups.

          I’m glad Gate1 has worked so well you you guys, though!

        • Cynthia, here’s how Gate 1 describes their Small Group Tours: https://www.discovery-tours.com/

  2. Susan, I have recently done the England, Wales, Scotland trip. It was my first overseas trip. While it was wonderful I felt we did not have enough free time to see anything besides the planned stops with maybe an hour of actual free time to do our own sightseeing. We only had maybe 2 hotels in a 12 day trip that we stayed 2 nights. Scotland was by far the best part of the trip. We went in March & there was snow in the highlands on Easter. I will always remember that trip! I am definitely looking at the trips you recommended! Thank you for the info.

    • That’s the thing about a guided tour, you don’t always get to stay as long as you would like in certain places. I love the guided aspect where I don’t have to plan anything, but there are times I would love linger longer in one place. Thanks, Teresa! I hope to see England, Wales and Scotland one day…on my bucket list. 🙂

  3. My husband and I are traveling to Ireland, Scotland and England in August. I must use a curling iron to have my hair the way I like it. Did you use your curling iron with the converter you mentioned in your post? I had a curling iron fry in Australia so I worry about that happening again. Did you use your cell phone? Did you purchase an international plan (we use Verizon)? I’ve read where travelers purchase a cheap prepaid phone when they arrive in the foreign country. Do you get money exchanged before you leave home or after you arrive? We have always gotten money exchanged at our local bank and then use debit and charge cards as needed in the foreign country. How did you carry your darling hat (with the black ribbon) on the airplane and was it a problem going through security? We’ll be flying out of Atlanta as we always do and even with pre-check, it can be nerve racking. Hope I haven’t asked too many questions. Thank you for having a wonderful blog!

    • I didn’t have the curler that I use now when I traveled in the past (see my current one here: https://betweennapsontheporch.net/calista-perfecter-best-styling-tool-for-smoothing-frizzies-or-curling-hair/) but have always taken along some type of curling brush or device. I found it works great as long as I unplugged my computer or anything else I had connected that was using power. You can plug phones and iPads and computers in all at once, but I found when using a super-power heavy device like a blow dryer or curling brush, I had to unplug other things temporarily so it was the only thing plugged in when I used it, then it worked fine. Otherwise, it just wouldn’t come on. I have no idea how it will do with your curling iron, but it worked fine with a blow dryer and my curling brush, as long as nothing else was plugged in. Don’t forget to use an adapter, too that will fit depending on what country your traveling in. You need both an adapter and the voltage converter.

      I have Verizon too and I never buy a data plan. I put my phone on airplane mode when I board the plane in Atlanta to leave, and I never take it off airplane mode until the plane touches back down in ATL at the end of the trip. I explain why in this post: https://betweennapsontheporch.net/answering-your-safari-travel-questions-what-i-brought-back-from-kenya/

      I use Wifi though everywhere I find it, which is everywhere…restaurants, hotels, shops, etc… WiFi works on a cell phone with it in Airplane Mode.

      I have done that in the past but sometimes it’s better to wait until you are in that country, depending on the exchange rate. Normally, I just wait and use my Debit card to get money while there.

      I’ve carried hats both in my hand and in my suitcase…and security never seemed to mind. I prefer putting it in my suitcase though because the one time I carried a hat in my hand, it got left in the overhead bin when I nice gentleman offered to get my bag out of the overhead bin for me…and he didn’t see the hat and I forgot about it until it was too late. When I pack a hat, I fill the center where your head goes with socks, underwear, stuff like that and place it in the center of the suitcase with the brim resting flat on the bottom of the suitcase. Then I pack my clothes in all around it. So far that worked great. Of course, some hats probably fare better than others would. The one you saw in the photo actually has a navy bow, although it probably looks black in the photo. I also have it with a cream-colored bow. It’s still available here: http://bit.ly/2JmWJGv. I wore that thing to death in Morocco. lol

      Have fun, Peppy! I loved Ireland and can’t wait to visit England one day!

  4. Carillon Orban says:

    My husband and I just got back from an Alpventures tour. He specializes in WWII tours. Our tour was about the art works that the Nazi stole and hid. We don’t usually take tours but this was fantastic. Not inexpensive, but wonderful hotels and a guide/owner that was a walking encyclopedia. We are thinking of taking his Italy tour, WWII battles for my husband and wine tasting for me 😉

    • That sounds fascinating, Carillon! I should take a tour like that since my knowledge of that period is not great. I will Google and look him up!

  5. Linda Page says:

    Where oh where have your Africa pictures gone? Oh where oh where can they be? ❤️

  6. Ann Marie says:

    I used OAT to travel to Sicily (on my own) and I really loved it. I would definitely use them again but their tours are a bit long for me as I work and am not retired so I can’t travel with them too frequently. Definitely check out their Sicily tour, though.

    I also did a tour of Paris, Normandy and the Loire Valley through Smartours, which you might like: https://www.smartours.com/tour/paris-normandy-loire-valley/

    I am not a big fan of cruises either but I am taking a cruise to Alaska this summer. I have always wanted to go to Alaska and I figure a cruise is the easiest way to do it on my own.

    • They do have long tours. I think the one that goes to Australia is 30 days! Not sure I want to go anywhere for 30 days! lol
      Thanks for those tour recommendations, Ann Marie, I will check those out!
      Oh,to Alaska, I would definitely do that cruise! Let me know how you liked it when your return, I would love to see Alaska!

    • This is precisely my issue as well. I love travel, frequently go solo, but I don’t want to be away more than 7-8 days for a variety of reasons. I’m limited in the number of tours I can take because many last much longer than I’d like.

  7. Cyndi Raines says:

    So excited for you Susan with your upcoming trip to Egypt! The Africa trip is my favorite, with Ireland second, but Egypt may be a tie breaker for second, lol.

  8. Beatrice says:

    US travelers , please remember to check out the legality of your OTC and prescription meds before you go! Many of our common ingredients are illegal or restricted in plenty of countries…some surprising…like Japan: Don’t try taking Benedryl in–it’s restricted to 10 milligrams, or less then half of the common dosage. We had a contractor arrested and thrown in jail in the UAE for a few leaves of pot in his pocket as he entered. Here’s a pointer to other info:
    https://www.nytimes.com/2018/01/19/travel/how-to-make-sure-you-travel-with-medication-legally.html

  9. Hi Susan, Yours is my favorite blog and I’m always happy when I see a new post in my mailbox. I’ve learned so much from you. I love to travel and would love it if you would share the link to the LMTD at Vantage.

    Thanks!!

  10. Hi Susan,
    Yes make your plans to visit Egypt and Machu Picchu soon. After more than fifty years of overseas travel those two places still stand out to be the very best destinations. Soon both places will become more and more difficult to visit.

  11. And Susan, This is a fabulous post. You spent aThank You.

  12. You are definitely the world traveler Susan…and I always look forward to your trips and your amazing advice!

  13. Wanda Bradey says:

    I so love to travel! I spent 9 days on a Holy Land Journey in Israel. It was the most amazing trip I have ever taken. Felt perfectly safe. If you think about going the group I was with, Clayton King Ministries, used Wilcox Travel in Asheville. They were amazing! Everything was well planned and they took care of all for us. I highly recommend them. Clayton King Ministries is also planning a trip in 2019 to Greece and Turkey. Yes, they are using Wilcox Travel. I had always said it was on my bucket list to go to Israel. Now I tell everyone to make it a to do list and not wait! It is life changing. I have pictures posted on my FB as Wanda F Bradey.

  14. Dawn Marie says:

    Thanks Susan! I love to hear your travel experiences. How exciting!!

  15. Hi Susan,
    Traveling to Italy is always wonderful but in the summer the temps get up to 100 degrees and 100% humidity. It can be awful. I would recommend going in the fall.

  16. Thanks for wonderful summary of your trips and all the travel agencies you have used. You truly are a wealth of information!

  17. Donna Vaughn says:

    What company do you use for travel in the United States?

I'd love to hear from you! Please leave a comment!

*