If the winter is starting to give you a bad case of cabin fever, it may be time to start planning a vacation -- on the cheap, of course. Discount travel site Travelzoo, which publishes thousands of bargain vacation deals, recently offered a few morsels of advice on how to get away on the cheap.
Here's what the insiders had to say:Travel to Destinations That Recently Hosted Global Events
The party is long over in South Africa after the World Cup. Now the country has a bunch of empty hotel rooms that need to be filled and spiffed-up sites that need to be visited. Ditto Olympic hosts Beijing and Vancouver. Package deals can be particularly sweet. Prices tend to fall before the big happenings as well.
Go Where the Deal Takes You
Grab the lowest-cost ticket to Shangri-La, no matter where it might be. Plan your trip backward. The plane flight is the most valuable component of you trip, so if you get that right, the economical lodging and everything else will follow. The offers can flash by in an instant. Summon your sense of adventure to pounce on them.
Consider Places With Undeserved Image Problems
The Dominican Republic didn't suffer through an earthquake; neighboring Haiti did. But the association has hurt the DR's tourism, Travelzoo said. (A recent cholera scare didn't help either.) It wants travelers back, and it has some of the best all-inclusive deals around. On a similar note, the BP oil spill did not reach South Beach in Miami Beach but bad scuttlebutt apparently did. Travelzoo said it's seeing better deals there than it has in a long time.
The Tuesday Rumor Is True
The money-saving heavens generally open up for flights and package deals between 3 and 4 p.m. on Tuesdays. That's when the one-upsmanship for offering lower fares often heats up. Use what travel biz types call "meta-search engines," sites that pull together deals from all over the web. Two of the top ones are Kayak and Fly.com, the latter being a Travelzoo sister site.
Think Out of Season
You've probably heard this one before but it never hurts to repeat. Resorts spend a lot of money on their airport and lodging, and they want both getting action in the off-season. Sure, September is hurricane season in the Caribbean, but a few bucks of travel insurance can eliminate the slim chance you'll lose your vacay to Mother Nature. The savings are huge, and there's a cool vibe to being in places at off-peak moments.
Focus on a Hotel and Destination and Let the Bargains Come to You
Marshal your Internet resources to sign up for email alerts, tweets and newsletters from the hotel of your choice. Then wait until the bargains flash in your inbox. Ditto for airfare. It's the opposite approach of taking any cheap flight to paradise, but it works, too.
Track Hotels Reopening After Renovation
There's gonna be room at the inn -- with cost considerations to fill the beds. Feel free to send direct messages to smaller outfits. You might find the rate of a lifetime.
Consult Best-Of Lists
Any economizing voyager should check out Travelzoo's Top 20 and other sites' best-of deal compilations. Paying retail for your trip is so pre-recession.
Eight Bargain Vacation Tips from Insiders at Travelzoo