bigstock--140386346Black Friday is just around the corner, and shoppers are beginning to buzz with excitement. Each year, the day after Thanksgiving hosts a number of blowout sales, offering deals on everything from retail to online services and even your next vacation. Using a travel site to plan a trip is a great way to save money all year round, but the deals are even sweeter around this time of the year. We’re giving hopeful travelers a few insider tips on how to score the best deals on flights and hotels on Black Friday, Nov. 25. Note that these tips can also extend to Cyber Monday, Nov. 28 bargain hunters.

Know what you’re looking for

Half of the excitement of Black Friday comes from the anticipation leading up to the event and the all-out rush that shoppers will experience. While the hustle and bustle is thrilling, you’re more likely to score the deals you want if you know exactly what you’re looking for and set it aside before the day arrives. Travelers should take some time to sift through their preferred travel site one day or so before to check out the flights and hotels that are available in the area they wish to travel to. Be sure to clear your Internet browser’s cookies after you do your research, so they don’t impact your Black Friday shopping. If you really want to stay ahead of the curve, it’s best to write down a couple of potential flight or hotel reservations (or use a tool like Orbitz and Expedia’s Scratchpad to save the reservations to your account). That way, when the time comes, you’ll be able to book as quickly as possible in just a few clicks.

Be flexible with travel dates

Anyone who has booked a travel deal online before knows that the key to scoring the best deals is having some flexibility with your travel dates and flight times. The most popular flights, morning and weekend trips, will be the first to go. Of course, customers are always welcome to give it their best shot, but having a backup plan in place can’t hurt. All travelers expecting to participate in Black Friday deals should plan to spend a chunk of time refreshing themselves on when the cheapest times to fly will be. For the most part, tickets for flights that are in the middle of the week or are late at night will be offered at the lowest prices. Likewise, flights that are within the upcoming month will likely be difficult to snag, so if at all possible, try to use Black Friday to book a trip farther in advance — ideally around six weeks or more.

Travelers should also know that a deal on their dream vacation may not be available as part of the holiday extravaganza. Often times, travel sites only offer discounts on flights during the winter months or during the middle of the week. Also, some travel sites will have blackout dates that fall on the busiest travel weekends, so scoring a last-minute deal on a Christmas trip to the Bahamas isn’t likely to happen. The more flexible you can afford to be, the more likely you are to book your trip at a discounted price.

Keep an eye on your preferred site

Another way to make sure you don’t waste any precious time on Black Friday is to get an idea of which sites will offer the best deal for the trip you are hoping to book. The easiest way to do this is to take a peek at your preferred travel site, as they are likely advertising their upcoming deals. Some travel sites have also been known to leak some deals early in the past, so all travelers should keep an eye out for discounted prices a day or two before the sale officially begins. That said, it’s important to be aware that some sites, like Travelocity, have already hosted and ended their Black Friday sale far ahead of time. Knowing ahead of time which sites will be hosting travel deals will help you know where you should look this weekend.

Set alerts

The beauty of using the Internet to do your Black Friday shopping is that you can let technology do some of the heavy lifting for you. Travel sites that are hosting deals this holiday season will be sure to advertise them, as we noted earlier, so why not set some alerts to notify you when a new deal has recently been posted or a price has dropped on a particular flight or hotel you had your eye on? Of course, you can do this by simply setting up a Google Alert and having the notification sent right to your phone, but why not go straight to the source? Many travel and booking sites allow customers to set alerts through their service that will update in real time, so travelers know they are never missing out on an unbeatable deal. The seasoned travel booker will know when and where to look for the newest information on booking deals, but with the help of technology, they can rest easy knowing that nothing will go undiscovered.

Be prepared to move quickly

Some of the best travel deals of the year show up around Black Friday, unfortunately meaning that they don’t last long. Many travel site enthusiasts ramp up during the year to get ready to fight for the best prices on flights and hotels, so they must be ready to act hastily once the sale begins. Travel sites will announce when their sale events are set to begin, so all customers can be ready and waiting for the floodgates to open. Noting your preferred bookings ahead of time (or saving them to your Scratchpad) will help you avoid searching for the perfect options so you can get right to the good stuff — booking and confirming your reservation. Whether the sale has been advertised or you are one of the lucky members who were made aware of the deals early on, good deals are limited, so you only have a few seconds or minutes to get the job done, so stay on your toes.

Black Friday and Cyber Monday sales are unavoidable, so why not join in and see what the hype is all about? Travelers who know what they are doing can land some incredible deals on flights and hotels, and can prepare themselves for the rush by getting to know our list of top-rated travel and booking services.