The travel industry is complex and full of insider secrets.  Never before has it been faced with the challenges of today.  With the endless increase in fuel prices and the constant threat of terrorism the travel industry has been forced to make cuts and changes.  Any price hikes are invariably passed on to the consumer.

If the consumer is to be able to function affordably within this industry he must learn as much as possible of their policies, practices, procedures and even their vulnerabilities.  The savings will go to the educated and the persistent.

1. Discount deals are found on the internet but they’re not always the best.  Shop and compare.  Some websites collect a volume discount fee which affects the price of your ticket.  Check the newspaper for travel specials especially in the Sunday travel section.

2. Flying can still be cheaper (and faster) than driving even with soaring gas prices.  This is particularly true of longer flights when you consider the cost of gas to drive, food and possibly hotels.  Put a pencil to the numbers before you make a decision.

3. Use alternate airports and save.  Many large cities have two or even three airports.  Some are cheaper to fly into and out of than others.  In smaller cities it may pay you to drive a few miles (even a hundred miles) to another city and utilize their airport.  This practice can save you hundreds of dollars.  The smaller airports are usually more user friendly and offer cheaper or even free parking.  

4. Two round-trip tickets can be cheaper than one.  You just use the leg of the ticket you need, one going and one coming.  This is called back to back ticketing and is frowned on by the airlines but is legal in most cases.  Check the legality of this method before using and of course the cost savings.  

5. Buyer beware. Where you book and buy your hotel room could determine the quality and location of the room you get.  A hotel determines the room you receive based on what you paid.  If you got a deep discount you could be placed in a less desirable location such as near the ice machine or elevator.  They would never admit this but to avoid the situation deal directly with the hotel’s website.

6. Car rental insurance is usually unnecessary.  Check before you travel to see if your present auto insurance has you covered.  If you charge the rental to a credit card most companies cover you automatically.  Rental employees get a commission on insurance sold so beware of double coverage.

7. Last minute deals on airlines and hotels can save you a bundle but you must be flexible.  Empty seats or vacant rooms bring no revenue so it’s a win-win situation for both parties. Keep tabs on these by signing up for e newsletters or search the web.

Travel services today are rarely complimentary.  The more you know and the more you’re able to do for yourself the more you’ll save.