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The Best Travel Deals

How do you get the best travel deals? You can watch for specials for the destination you want, but if travel is your goal, flexibility is the key. In other words, be open to the idea of going to any one of several destinations, and going at different times than you may have considered, and even doing different things. Then start looking for those deals.

Why Flexibility Buys You the Best Travel Deals

Any particular travel destination usually has cheaper or more expensive "seasons." Plane tickets vary widely in price from month to month and even according to the day of the week. Then there many activities which are only marginally more entertaining yet cost much more than others.

Now suppose over the years you go on trips to several destinations, using the usual strategy of "I want to go here and do this now." You'll almost certainly catch a few places at the height of the season, meaning it will be expensive for hotels and more. Plane tickets will cost a lot if you happen to choose the expensive times as well. If you have a fixed idea about your activities, you'll also likely pay more than you need to have a great time, because you'll miss out on some real fun that costs less.

Now, what if you go somewhere during the off-season, go on the day that has the cheapest plane tickets, and start with the interesting activities that cost very little? You could spend just half as much on average, even though over those years you might go to all the same places. In fact, the savings could mean even more opportunities to travel.

For example, years ago I went to Ecuador because it was a cheap place to travel to. I went in February because I got a deal going as a courier (plane tickets $258 round trip from Miami). I never thought about taking a tour to the glaciers of Mount Cotopaxi, but when I discovered that I could do that day-long trip for $15, it made sense (and it was a beautiful and interesting tour). The bottom line is that you can design your own best travel deals if you are flexible.

The Best Travel Deals - A Formula

Here is a simple formula for getting the best travel deals.

1. Read a few travel magazines, watch a few travel programs, and make a list of six to ten places you might like to go to someday.

2. Find out when the best time to go to each is, meaning when it would be interesting for you and cheaper than other times. In other words try to find an "off-season" that is still a good time for you to visit.

3. Search for information online. Note how much hotels and meals will likely cost. See what there is to do and how much you are likely to spend on each activity.

4. Search online for plane tickets. Try different days of the week for departure and return flights to find the cheapest combinations. Be aware that this can change, though, so you'll be doing this again when you are ready to actually start planning a trip.

5. When you have the time to travel, pick from among your listed destinations according to which are cheapest at the moment. Then search all the possible dates you can travel, to find the cheapest plane tickets. You may want to do this before you arrange for the time off work, so you can take advantage of the best possible travel deals.

6. Buy those tickets, do a little more research, then start planning and packing.

One last tip for getting the best travel deals. If you are adventurous, only book a hotel for the day you arrive. Usually there are many nice, less expensive hotels that you won't find online. In our experience, even good package deals are never as cheap as finding your own places to stay once you get there. This also allows you more freedom.

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