*Fly on a Tuesday, Wednesday or Saturday.
Traveling on off-peak days – and at off-peak times – means lower fares, a less crowded cabin, and a greater chance of snagging those elusive mileage-award seats. Taking two days off for a long weekend? Instead of a Thursday –Sunday or Friday – Monday trip, save money by flying on a Saturday and returning on a Tuesday.
*Hop Between Cities at Midday.
When you’re traveling through Europe or Asia and need to get from
one city to another, consider scheduling transportation for the middle of
the day. If you leave at dawn, you miss the sunrise – ideal for photography and observing locals – and reach your destination at midday, when temperatures are highest and the light is at its worst for photos, and is too early to check into your hotel. You may also have to fight rush-hour commuters and miss a breakfast that is included in your rate.
*Visit Islands During Shoulder Season.
Peak-season rates on islands often reflect nearby countries’ vacation schedules rather than the best time to visit. In low season, many businesses shut down. Shoulder season – when crowds are thinner but the weather is still good – is the solution.
*Sign Up For E-Mail Notifications.
The best airfare and hotel sales are largely unannounced. Airlines and hotel companies target specific subsets of travelers – loyalty program members, holders of certain credit cards, people who’ve registered on their Web sites – and alert them by e-mail. To keep your in-box from being bombarded, get a dedicated e-mail address for such alerts and check it when you’re ready to start planning your next trip.
*Get the Best Room for Your Dollar.
At luxury properties, rates vary substantially according to occupancy. A room could be $350 one week because there’s a big group, and $250 the next because nobody’s coming. For top-end hotels that have on-site reservations desks, call and ask the manager when, during your travel window, the hotel will be emptiest and thus have the lowest rates. Then ask something like, “If I come on that date, would there be a chance of an upgrade to ocean view?”