Know that frequent flier miles may not pay off. Unless you have racked up enough points to pay for your last-minute trip, sticking with the same airline doesn’t guarantee you the lowest price. In fact, check to see if two one-way fares on different airlines trump the cost of a round-trip price, Merritt suggests.
Know the best days to book. While you can find a deal any day of the week, the cheapest fares are typically posted on Tuesday and Wednesday, Smith says.
Sailing the seas on a dime
Since the recession hit, the number of cruise passengers has dipped, leaving many unfilled cruise ships and a glut of lower prices, says Roy Witman, vice president of marketing for Yonkers, New York-based Cruise Vacation Center. Cruises leaving from Europe will see the greatest discounts at the end of the summer, with 80% discounts possible. “They’re also offering reduced airfare to Europe and other extras to try to get people from the U.S. and Canada to go on European cruises,â€ says Witman.
To make sure you book the right cruise at the best deal:
Prepare to move fast. If you can go with less than a week’s notice, you may be able to take advantage of the fact that empty cabins are lost money. “If the ship has a lot of capacity left, they’re going to discount it. They want to fill those cabins,â€ says Witman.
Be willing to split up. If you’re traveling with a large or extended family and need more than one cabin, you may have to stay in separate areas of the ship. “If you want to stay together on a ship then you have to book very early,â€ Witman says.
Consult more than one source. Checking with a cruise line directly may not yield the best results, says Witman. Travel agencies that specialize in cruises may offer a better deal because they receive commissions from cruise lines and “an agency can rebate some of that commission back to the consumer,â€ Witman says. Websites such as Vacationstogo.com and Cruise.com can also provide information on last-minute deals.