Why I Don’t Pay Attention to Fare Sales and Hotel Deals

Every day there’s a new airfare sale, hotel deal or hot redemption that comes along. Invariably, when I check whether these sales are leveragable for an upcoming trip I’m planning I find I can’t take advantage of them for one reason or another.

For me, chasing sales is a distracting waste of time

Most “deals” are date restricted, and limited in other ways as well. So even if a sale appears for a flight or hotel I’m interested in, it often doesn’t work for me. As a result, I can easily spend 10 to 15 minutes per deal trying to figure out why I can’t get it to work for my situation.

When I discover that a deal is more restricted than the headline indicates I get annoyed with both the travel provider and the site mentioning the deal.

So I decided to stop paying attention to fare sales and hotel deals.

Take the trips you want to take

You might be more date and destination flexible than I am. And there’s nothing wrong with letting an actionable deal sway you between equally appealing choices. 

But ravenously following a flight or hotel deal site strikes me as akin to walking into Home Depot and saying: “So what’s on sale here today?”

We wouldn’t do that, so why let travel deals determine where we’re going to go? Instead, create a Travel Demand Schedule then figure out how to best fund each component of your trips.

We only have so many vacations in our lives and kids grow up quickly. I don’t want to look back and think “I always wanted to visit XYZ but it was never on sale.”

Create your own deals

The problem with most deals is a lack of broad applicability.

That’s why a deal you can repeatedly and reliably take advantage of is much more impactful than a one-off sale.

See: The Net Present Value of a Deal

I think it’s important to focus on high ROI opportunities and when possible create your own deals – by creating a system that makes points, miles & cashback work for you.

Figure out what you want to do, then work backwards. There will be plenty of real deals along the way that help make your travel dreams a reality. And they’ll be the trips you want to take rather than what some airline or hotel chain decided to put on sale.

That’s what we’re all about here at Milenomics. Even if we think alike, everyone’s approach to travel is personal.

Sam and I discuss how different our Demand Schedules are and how that informs how we go about earning points, miles & cashback [and much more] in the most recent edition of the Milenomics² Podcast for paid subscribers. I’d love it if you subscribed and checked it out.

To get a feel for what the show is like check out the free version.

Either way, we’ll look forward to continuing the conversation.

About the author

– Written by Robert Dwyer, contributor at Milenomics. Connect with me on Twitter @RobertDwyer


  1. Great advice. I do give the deals a few seconds to see if they fit into preexisting travel plans, but no more than that. Occasionally I’ll get a hit, but you are absolutely right, make your own deals with points, miles, 4th night free offers, etc.

  2. Couldn’t agree with you more. My wife’s work (healthcare) requires that she apply for vacation time six months to a year in advance. We’ve never been able to take advantage of a “sale”. It’s liberating to skip over the tweets announcing them.

  3. I think this is fair advice for most people. Exception would be very flexible travelers, but that’s definitely a minority of people.

    I think fare sales do way more for improving the public perception of an airline “Airline X has such great deals!” and encouraging sales of a lot of “deals” that aren’t (“Fares as low as $29, hmm my destination is $189, guess that’s a good deal”) than actually saving much people money on flights they’d have otherwise taken.

  4. You raise some really valid points, although I think that there’s an awful lot of variables. For instance, I fly out of Knoxville, which isn’t exactly the recipient of tons of great sale fares. Since that excludes a lot of options, the deals that are workable are more valuable as a result. About a month ago, there was a sale to Zagreb for around $400 all in this Spring. If you live in New York, that’s a big yawner, but it’s pretty amazing for this area, so I jumped on it.
    I think that time and flexibility are also big factors. Another point is that sometimes a sale airfare will drop you in a new city that you’ll end up loving. Also, whether you MS or resell and to what degree influences your perspective a lot. In short, YMMV, as with almost everything, I guess.

  5. Great tip! We’re also one of those that can’t get in on flash sales since we don’t have flexible schedules like others. For us, we like saving UR pts, when it’s time to go somewhere, we check if we can use our pts for a deal using CSP and if there’s none or it’s much higher if using UR pts, we turn to cashback even if it’s not the best redemption value. Since the bulk of our URs are earned at zero cost, often with a small profit from OD/OM GC sales, that means we’re ahead even if we redeem for cashback. When it’s time to decide where we want to go, it’s a lot easier (sometimes comes out cheaper if there’s a promo code) and hassle-free to find the deals when you’re paying instead of trying to match miles/hotel pts to where we want to go.

    It’s all a matter of perspective and we choose the one that’s hassle-free to go where we want to.

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