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You've probably heard that there are plenty of travel bargains to be had, making this one of the best times to book a vacation. But how do you find those bargains? And what do you do when a deal looks too good to be true?

The fact of the matter is there really are deals out there. Since the beginning of this year we've seen prices drop off considerably. And most of what's advertised out there is the real thing. But how do you know for sure?

First of all - to find deals you have to watch for deals. Monitor specials over a period of time. If you know where you want to go, try going online and signing up for electronic newsletters from a certain resort or hotel you want to stay at. You'll be the first to know about new promotions.

Keep in mind that if it looks too good to be true - it probably is. That one hundred dollar a night hotel room in the city might be farther off the beaten path than you realized. This happened to my friend's brother. He went to New York with some pals and ended up staying in a pretty scary part of the Brooklyn. Lets just say walking back to their hotel at nighttime wasn't a fun task. Do some research; look at a map and read up on the area first.

Pay attention the fine print. I can't stress this enough. And it goes for everything from restaurant coupons to hotel rooms. If the advertised price is something ridiculous, like ten dollars a night for a room, or a two for one flight, make sure to check the fine print to see if there are any other mandatory fees or restrictions you're up against. You could end up having to pay sky-high taxes on the room or having to buy a weeklong ski pass.

Try using social media tools to determine if an offer is right for you. If you're on a microblogging site like Twitter - shoot a message to an online forum. You're likely to get some fairly useful answers. The experiences of people who have bought the same deal or one similar can be extremely valuable.

The website Yapta.com is a great way to track airfare pricing and save money. This site helps you get a handle on fluctuating travel prices so that you know when to buy low. Yapta conducts daily price checks on the specific flights and hotels that you choose, and alerts you when prices drop or when they fall within your budget.

Really what it comes down to is research - and assuming nothing. When you see terms like "free" and "discount" - it can mean one thing to you, but an entirely different thing to the company trying to sell you something. Ask questions, read the fine print - and keep your eye out for deals. If you're always on the lookout, you're bound to find the bargain that's right for you.


More Tips For Saving Money

Ask for a lower rate - senior, AAA or family discounts
Call a hotel or a car rental company directly, not the central 800-number
Avoid holidays or long weekends, when prices are usually at their peak
Use coupons or voucher books - many of these can be printed online