Festival of Books: Pros share tips on travel deals; panel set for Sunday too

Festival of Books: Pros share tips on travel deals; panel set for Sunday too
Jen Leo, John DiScala (Johnny Jet), center, and Gabe Saglie of Travelzoo talk about how to save money on travel at the Los Angeles Times Festival of Books on Saturday. (Christopher Reynolds / Los Angeles Times)

'More for Your Money: Finding Hotel and Airfare Deals" with Travel editor Catharine Hamm,'s Warren Chang and Trivago's Jon Eichelberger takes place 10:30 a.m. Sunday at the Los Angeles Times Festival of Books. Look for the Travel Smart Stage; the event is free.

If you're looking for a good travel deal, check your email.


That's the advice given by travel experts Johnny Jet (a.k.a. John DiScala) and Gabe Saglie at Travelzoo on the "More for Your Money: Travel Bargains in 2015" panel Saturday at the Los Angeles Times Festival of Books.

Travel writer Jen Leo moderated the panel about how to stretch your vacation dollars.

The good news for Americans is that the dollar is strong this year. Saglie said Norwegian travel agents are "predicting that the dollar is stretching 30% more in Norway than it did a year ago."

But back to those emails. Sign up with travel entities to get their deal alerts and newsletters, the pros said.

"The best way to find deals is to sign up to every single ariline, hotel, cruise, email newsletter,  and if you don't want to do that, there are different aggregators," DiScala said.

When it comes to airfares, Saglie mentioned a relatively new airline, Norwegian Air, which offers cheap flights to Europe. Travelers can save by flying into Oslo on the carrier and then continuing on to France or England.

Another Europe tip: Travel after Aug. 20 when you can still catch a few weeks of summer. By then, most Europeans are already back to work, except for Italy, whose residents usually head to the beach during that month.

DiScala said Indonesia is also a great destination with deals, ones that often last only 24 hours or have limited space. Make sure you check the fine print and reserve early.

"You have to open the newsletters," Leo said, referring to the e-mails coming into your inbox.

As far as bargain websites go, DiScala recommends that before you head to Priceline, go to to get a better idea of how to bid on hotels and airfares.

Make sure you're aware that when you go cheap, even if it is a five-star hotel, you may not get a great room, Saglie remarked. Ratings vary among travel websites, so do your homework before you pay for that "great deal" on a room.

Some online sites that Saglie recommends are: (Follow him @JohnnyJet on Twitter, Johnny Jet on Facebook, JohnnyJet on Instagram), which compares airfares by dates.


DiScala recommends:, "but act fast," DiScala says, because deals can sell out. If you book your fully refundable hotel reservation, they will help you get money back if they find a better deal for you.

DiScala also recommends HotelTonight for last-minute deals on hotel rooms and Silvercar for renting an Audi at bargain prices.