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How to Find Vacation Travel Deals

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Find a Fab Fare

Time it right. How's this for specific: Search Tuesdays at 3 p.m. “Typically, one or more airlines will launch a sale late Monday or early Tuesday, then others match,” says Rick Seaney, CEO of farecompare.com. Wait until the matching's done, then pounce.

Get clicking. Hit the usual suspects like expedia.com, travelocity.com, orbitz.com, kayak.com, hipmunk.com, and google.com/flights—yes, all (or many) of them, suggests Arthur Frommer, founder of the namesake travel guides. The “best” site can vary. At farecompare.com and airfarewatchdog.com, get pinged when the price for your flight changes; bing.com/travel's “price predictor” suggests whether to buy now or wait.

Ponder a package. A “bundle” can offer big value for last-minute family travelers, notes Joe Megibow, VP/GM of expedia.com, who says savings can be as high as $500 for the exact same flight and hotel when bought together. Just choose “flight + hotel” when you search any site.

Act in a flash. Airlines are active online and often tweet out sales. (JetBlue, for instance, posts deals on Tuesdays at twitter.com/#!/JetBlueCheeps.) Wanderlisting.com is a great one-stop site for finding hotels and airlines on Twitter, and @airfarewatchdog tweets top deals (including promo codes).

Be social. LivingSocial, Groupon Getaways, and SniqueAway sell limited-time travel packages or hotel stays at a discount (daily-deal aggregator yipit.com will e-mail you offers tailored to your fam's interests). Get out your glasses, though, because the fine print's worth perusing: You're locking in a discount but not always a reservation, and blackout dates might make the “deal” unappealing.

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