$345 flights from the US to Europe! Venice hotel rooms for 1 euro! Did you miss out on these deals when they popped up? Yeah, most of us did. Travel deals and mistake fares pop up every once in a while and are typically gone in the blink of an eye. As someone who neurotically tries to seek out the best deal on everything possible, from the greatest return on investment for a new house, to the biggest discount on clothes, to the most beans per dollar in a can, I have come to appreciate the tools and tricks that help make finding bargains easier.
There are a number of websites I use to search out travel deals, but Twitter has become my favorite resource. Some people see the social media website as just another means of sharing selfies and posting updates on your latest meal, but it can be used for so much more. With as quickly as deals come and go, the instant nature of Twitter makes it one of the best resources for catching a travel deal before it expires. So how I do I use Twitter to help me bargain hunt? Follow the steps below and you can be tracking travel deals in no time flat.
Step 1: Identify who to follow
(Although, I guess if you haven’t yet signed up for Twitter, that should be Step 1. Sign up here. It’s easy. And painless.)
When I first joined Twitter, I sought out some of my favorite travel hacking bloggers as the first people to follow. I had already signed up for their email newsletters, but I noticed that by the time I received the newsletter, many of the travel deals they mentioned were gone. Most of them are on Facebook, but tend to update their Facebook pages only once or twice per day. So Twitter seemed the natural place to go for more instant, frequent updates.
After following my favorite travel hacking bloggers, I looked to see who they followed: other bloggers, travel companies, and deal websites (among others). So I followed them too. I found that many travel companies would post deals and promotions on Twitter that I might not see on Facebook. If you’re just starting out, I’d recommend following some of the companies you use most for travel and maybe add in a few bloggers or deal sites. These are just a few I find useful:
Travel related companies
Travel Hacking Bloggers
If you have a specific destination or type of trip in mind, it’s also a good idea to search out hotels, tourism boards, or tours in that area. Sometimes these companies will post special deals or discounts online that you can take advantage of while planning your trip.
Step 2: Create lists
If you use Twitter for anything more than searching out travel deals, you’re going to want to create lists. Even if you don’t use Twitter for anything else, you might want to make lists just to sort everything out. People tweet a lot. And they tweet about a lot of really pointless things. A lot. Don’t get me wrong, I love reading the tweets of all of the people I follow on Twitter, but I just can’t keep up with reading everything all the time. So how do lists help with this? They allow you to sort people by topic or group and weed out all the fluff. You can create a list of just travel related companies or just travel hacking bloggers or just airline deal tweeters. Once you assign people to each of these lists, you’ll only see those people’s tweets under each list.
To create a list on Twitter, go up to the little gear symbol for your options and click on it, then click on “Lists”.
On the right of the page you’re taken to, you’ll see a button to create a new list. Click on the button.
A popup window will ask you to name a new list. Writing a description is optional, but you will need to choose whether you want the list to be public or private. A public list can be viewed and followed by anyone whereas a private list is only viewable by you. I don’t know of any reason to choose one over the other for this type of list, so it’s your call as to whether you want to share your list or not.
On a popup screen, you’ll be able to add them to any of your lists you’ve already created or create a new list altogether.
I keep several lists: Points and Miles, Travel Companies, Travel Blogs, Stuff, Hiking, and New York. I use the first two lists to keep track of travel deals. Under Points and Miles, I have several travel hacking bloggers and travel deal websites. The Travel Companies list is exactly what it sounds like – companies that deal with travel (hotels, airlines, car rental agencies, etc.). I just made my Travel Companies and Points and Miles lists public, so feel free to subscribe if you’d like: https://twitter.com/travelwitha9to5/lists
As a side note, you don’t have to follow people to add them to your lists; anyone can be added and their tweets will show up in your list feed. And if your lists are private, they’ll never know. Stalker.
Step 3: Sign up for a service like TweetDeck
Once you have the lists created, you can access them from your Twitter page anytime, but you need to click on each one separately. This can be a pain in the butt, especially if you’d like to check them multiple times a day. So what’s the workaround? Sign up for a service that helps you manage your Twitter accounts. I personally use TweetDeck as my main Twitter manager, but there are plenty of other options out there. TweetDeck allows me to create columns for each of my lists so I can view them simultaneously. I leave TweetDeck open in a tab in my browser and quickly hop over periodically during the day to see if there are any good deals popping up.
I keep four different columns up on my TweetDeck screen plus my main feed. This allows me to quickly scan the Points and Miles and Travel Companies columns and see if any good deals have popped up. I can also scan some of my other lists or my general feed if I want to spend some more time, but I don’t have to.
Step 4: Get text alerts for certain tweets
Obviously, you can’t spend 24/7 staring at a Twitter feed, whether in list form or not, so it’s easy to miss out on good travel deals. One way to make sure you don’t miss out is to create text (SMS) alerts for certain Twitter users. Yes, this means that you’ll be texted every single tweet that user sends out, so pick carefully. Here’s how it’s done:
- Click on “Settings” under the gear at the top
- Activate your phone to receive text messages
- Check the box next to “Tweets from people you’ve enabled for mobile notifications”
- Go to the page of the person you want to receive text alerts from and click on “Turn on mobile notifications” from under their gear menu
That’s it! You’ll start receiving text messages of that person’s tweets as soon as they’re posted. Currently, I only do this for two Twitter users – @TheFlightDeal and @SecretFlying – because I get annoyed by too many text messages. Plus, those two basically cover any deal you’d want to know about. If you live in the United States and really only want to deal with one, I’d recommend @TheFlightDeal as one of the few Twitter accounts I’d consider for receiving texts. They do tweet a fair amount but it’s always for an awesome deal and they’re typically the first when it comes to mistake fares and crazy rates.
There you have it: a quick breakdown of how you can use Twitter to find travel deals and promotions. Do you have any favorite tools for finding/tracking travel deals? I’d love to hear about them in the comments below.