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First-class tips for vacay

OPINION

Wanna get away? How to do it for cheaper

(Reuters )
June 07, 2012|By Megan Crepeau, For RedEye

Ladies and gentlemen, you deserve a vacation. Can't you hear the waves lapping at the beach? Can't you hear the ice cream truck? Can't you hear your head slamming against your desk as you try to find a plane ticket without going broke?

It's OK. It's OK. Here, have a Popsicle and write down these three handy tips:

1) Timing.

2) Timing.

3) Timing.

Most experts say the best time to buy a plane ticket is on a weekday, especially Tuesday or Wednesday. If that works for you, great! But you should really still do your own homework.

Bing.com's travel section will compare airfares for you side by side, and will even send you alerts when the price goes up or down. It's also got a fancy price predictor based on past fluctuations. Hurrah, Bing is good for something! But don't rely on it to do all your work for you. Start a month or two before you plan to fly, and track prices obsessively from there. When you find something reasonable, you pounce.

Another huge factor in the ticket price is when you plan to fly. Early and very late flights tend to be the cheapest, for obvious reasons, but the biggest factor is the day of the week and the time of the month. Everyone flies on holidays, so airlines can jack up the prices for Labor Day weekend or Fourth of July. Don't fly then if you can help it.

The same principle applies to weekend flights—everyone wants to fly out Friday and get back Sunday. Make it a Thursday-to-Monday trip instead and your wallet might thank you.

This last piece of advice is for our free-spirit friends. If you haven't got the time to constantly check travel sites—or if you're just feeling impetuous—there's still a chance you'll survive without the airlines picking your pocket. You've got to get those last-minute deals, baby. Try Twitter @jetbluecheeps or sign up for the Southwest Click n' Save email. There are catches, of course. They have some killer fares, but they don't offer much flexibility as far as where to fly or when (some of these sales last only for a few hours). But for a quickie spontaneous vacation, they might just be perfect.

Fly safely, everyone!

MEGAN CREPEAU IS A REDEYE SPECIAL CONTRIBUTOR. SHE'S A 20-SOMETHING COLLEGE GRAD NAVIGATING THIS DUMPY JOB MARKET JUST LIKE THE REST OF US.

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