The greatest threat to your next vacation is the rising cost of airfares. They have risen so sharply, so remorselessly, that they throw your entire travel budget out of whack. And the recent merger of American Airlines and U.S. Airways threatens further increases in the months ahead.
But is there a way to reduce these costs? In my view, there are six:
(1) Devote up to an hour to the job of finding a low airfare to your destination. Instead of simply pulling up a single airfare search engine on your computer, access at least four or five of the so-called "aggregators" that specialize in finding bargains (these include Kayak.com, Momondo.com, Do-Hop.com, CheapOAir.com, Vayama.com, SkyScanner.net--and there are more}. None is always better at this task, but one occasionally reveals a cheap airfare that the others don't have.
(2) Instruct the various aggregators (by clicking on the appropriate button) to display not simply non-stop flights to your destination, but also one-stop and even two-stop flights there. These may add two-to-four hours to your travel time, but they can save you hundreds of dollars per person.
(3) Note that several of the aggregators list prices and flights not simply for the dates you have chosen, but for two or three days preceding or following your preferred dates. By being flexible in your dates of departure and return, you can often save a great deal.
(4) Book, if possible, at lest 60 days in advance of departure. Airlines feel usually feel confident they can get higher prices from people who either book three or four months in advance, or at the last moment, just a few days ahead of departure. Sixty days out is when they begin discounting prices for unsold seats.
(5) Consult Twitter. If you know the airline you plan to use, then make a point of periodically checking its Twitter "feed"--like Twitter.com/JetBlue or Twitter.com/FrontierAirlines. Numerous airlines are now posting confidential low fares on Twitter for the benefit of their most loyal followers.
And if these tactics don't work? Then offset the cost of airfares with lower spending at the destination. Become a true, budget traveler, as I"ve been advocating for years.
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