1. Travel Agents. Many people have the misconception that using a travel agent entails paying a fee. Nonsense. In actuality, most travel agents receive commissions from the vendors (airlines, hotels, tour agencies); they are the ones paying the fee, not you. A travel agent has access to deals that often are not available anywhere else. He or she can help take the headache out of planning, allowing you to sit back and relax while the logistics are plotted out. Another bonus is that travel agents often include travel insurance in their packages, to ensure that you are getting what you paid for.
2. Internet. With the widespread use of the world wide web, travel prices have gone down considerably. Using travel sites like Orbitz, Expedia, and Travelocity, buyers can find lower rates than ever before for airfares, hotels, and package deals. The downside? Truly finding the best travel deals often requires a lot of time and patience as you compare rates with other sites and with direct booking. Another downfall is that you can't always find availability at these lower rates, but it is nice to plan right at home.
3. Guidebooks. Tried and true, travel guidebooks are a traveler's best friend. Seasoned travel writers research and compile guidebooks based on their own experiences, and who better to give advice than someone who's been there, done that? Depending on your preferred level of luxury, you are sure to find a guidebook to meet your needs. Best of all, travel guidebooks are often available at your local library-for free!
4. Booking Direct. Sometimes travel companies will offer special deals to customers who book directly. This is especially true with tour and cruise companies who advertise travel deals to repeat customers. You can often find rates as low as half-price (or lower) if you book at the last minute. If you have the flexibility and the determination, this may be the way to go.
In any case, travel opens up our eyes to worlds our forefathers never could have dreamed of visiting. Whether you travel around the globe or just a city away, a little careful planning and an open mind can allow for an experience of a lifetime. Happy travels!