Saving on airline tickets, accomodations and so on

Let's start of with a few basics. All the airlines publish their fares. So, if you go to them directly, you know exactly how much you are going to be asked to pay. That said, there are "high" and "low" seasons where the volume of traffic rises and falls. Airlines do offer "sale" prices to maintain passenger volumes during the low seasons. Some increase their prices at the peak periods. Then you have the budget carriers. These offer basic carriage at a basic price. All this information is usually freely available and gives you the base price to work from. Then we come to the "special offers". These are prices advertised in the local press or through the internet, promoting particular airlines or online ticket agents. They often invite you to use a code or keyword from the advert to "prove" your entitlement to the special price. The other source to identify are the "consolidators". These businesses buy tickets in bulk from the airlines and so get discounts that allow them to pass on savings to their customers. In the US, consolidators tend to specialize in the international market. In Europe, consolidators sell tickets for all flights both domestic and international.

Most people who are looking to travel are either on business or going on holiday. That means they will be in the market for a place to stay, a car rental and other elements that could make up a package. This gives you considerable freedom to negotiate. Start off with a hotel. Most sites that sell accommodation can be a little vague about pricing rooms. The best strategy is to get a quote, then telephone the hotel direct and find out what their best price is. If a hotel is your best option, you now have a choice. But if you want flexibility to come and go, or to entertain, you might do better to take a managed or serviced apartment. Depending on the number of people traveling together, you might find a better deal in a two, three or four room apartment on a daily or weekly rate. For those on holiday, there are package deals and all-inclusive resorts. In the right climate, camping may be a good option, or you could try one of the home swap/exchange plans. And, for the sake of completeness, there are still one or two companies that use "ordinary travelers" as couriers. It's hard to get on the lists but, if you like more random travel, this can be a cheap option.

So when you're looking for cheap flight, particularly for international cheap flights, look beyond the price of the seat at all the other options for accommodation, car rental, travel insurance, and so on. You are looking for the best deal on the whole package. Identify the consolidators and start with them. They are most likely to have the cheap flights advertised. Then it's just a case of exploring how to pull everything together to save the most money. In fact, in it's own right, it's fun and, when you get to enjoy the end result, all the more satisfying.

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