Rising fuel prices and a reviving economy are pushing up travel prices. Here are some strategies that may help you get a deal on travel:
Book really early. Planes are packed these days, so airlines don’t have to compete hard to fill seats. Begin checking fares 3 months ahead. Keep tabs on prices using a website like AirFareWatchdog.com or FareCompare.com so you’ll know a deal when you see one.
Make the web work for you. Try these 3 new hotel booking sites:  Backbid.com, which gets counteroffers from other hotels, typically saving 20%;  Tingo.com, which checks rates after your reservation and refunds you if any night’s rate drops; and  HotelSweep.com, which scours smaller, independent hotels (check TripAdvisor.com for reviews).
Look for packages. Family resorts are still hurting from the economic slump. Cruises are trying to drum up more business. Search SmarterTravel.com and TravelZoo.com for deals. The three best places to travel for deals from SmarterTravel.com: Hawaii, Aruba, and Japan.
Log in to Ebates.com where you can use Priceline, Expedia, Orbitz, and Travelocity, plus you get up to 5% cash back in your Ebates account! All you have to do it set up an Ebates account and tell them where to mail your check. Then it’s all automatic from there. There are no points to redeem, no forms to mail in, and no fees. Stores pay Ebates a sales commission for sending shoppers their way, and Ebates uses the commission to pay you cash back.
Hotels.com is also a great resource for hotels in major cities.
Summarized from the article “Travel” in Money magazine, May 2012, p. 72.