I am kind of person that always looking best value for the money. This is especially important when it is time to book a holiday. IF you don’t do your homework properly and do not research a lot of options you can pay much more (sometimes 30-40%) for exactly the same product.
I prefer to book flights in low season. Sometimes moving your travel dates couple of weeks forward or backward can significantly change a price you pay for a flight. I know that because of work commitments not everybody has a luxury of being flexible with travel dates. I work as a contractor and usually decide myself when I get time off.
I found that Expedia site was probably the most useful for the destinations of my choice. Though you need to understand that not all airlines are presented even on big websites so it is always worth to check few of the at least.
Best hotel prices for Australian traveller’s popular destinations in my opinion are on Wotif.com. I’ve booked Bali, Fiji and Australia hotels with them and every time their price was better or equal to other offers. This is despite the fact that I don’t really like their website as it is not very user friendly in terms of search. Why they can’t just provide suggest feature for your destination based on what you’ve started typing instead of forcing you to select value from stupid list?
Anyway to book your hotel you first need to understand how good it is especially if you are going for a week or two long holidays. You don’t want to live in hotel/resort you don’t like just because you haven’t made your homework before making booking. Trip advisor is of course the best source of such information at the moment. You need to be careful in your research on this website as there are plenty of non-trustful reviews on it. My formula is very simple. I look at the total number of reviews for hotel first. If number is very low I usually do not continue with this hotel. Hotels with hundreds of reviews are more difficult to manipulate by fake positive/negative reviews. Then I read 5-10 reviews skipping those that look like written by hotel staff (or competitors staff).
It worked for me really well. First I compile a list of hotels within my price range available at selected destination using Wotif.com. Then I check every hotel on tripadvisor.com and remove from list those that based on reviews I don’t feel good about. Then I find the site where this hotel has best pictures in terms of number and quality. Pictures on Wotif.com are quite often of low quality. Pictures are good to confirm or add more doubts to your decision to book this hotel.
Last thing is to match your hotel booking dates with your flight dates. Sometimes you need to change 3-4 different date ranges to get what you want. It can take you probably day or two to do proper research but result can be very impressive especially for big families with kids. I saved at least 2-3 thousand on every trip I booked this way comparing to what was available without research or from local travel agents.
Every time you finished your research and happy with results you need to proceed with bookings otherwise you can find that in couple of days everything changed and you need to start all over again.
Hope this will help somebody and good luck in your bargain holiday hunting!