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Travel 2006    

Air travel


Some 658 million passengers took more than 10.5 million domestic flights in the past year.

Want bargains? Travel to a newsstand

If you're looking to travel abroad and want some cheap tickets, you might want to start by taking a trip away from the usual English-language sources.

A newspaper from your destination country, or a publication targeted at immigrants from that country, can be a gold mine of deals aimed at people in the know.

So if you want a ticket to Tel Aviv, try the Israeli newspapers. You can easily pick out a photo of a plane, the name of the airline, the ticket price, the valid dates and the phone number of the travel agency even if you can't read a word of Hebrew.

But if you do have language skills, you can take them to the bank. Listening to a radio program in another language, watching a TV show in Spanish or subscribing to an e-mail news service from somewhere else can land you a bargain.

So travel to a well-stocked city newsstand, surf the Web or play with the possibilities of satellite radio and cable television if you plan on buying something a little exotic...or if you just like exploring from the comfort of your armchair.

Shopping in unfamiliar languages
Obviously, knowing the language helps, especially for the classifieds, but intrepid bargain hunters say you can usually read the display ads and figure out the prices without language skills.

"When I've visited relatives in Greece, I've usually gone through travel agents in Astoria, Queens, to book flights," says Maria Stadtmueller, a writer in Middlebury, Vt.

"Going through the Greek papers is problematic if you don't read Greek, but the ads usually show the names of the travel companies in English." she says.

And numbers -- both dollars and dates -- are usually self-explanatory. What's more, many Web sites offer automatic translation into English. On some sites, the ads will change into English, too, so you can get a peek at the fine print before you call and ask if anyone can help you in English.

If you can read the language, you'll have more negotiating power, and you may be pleasantly surprised at what's out there.

"There are good deals, like furniture -- mostly Chinese -- kitchenwares, health care and dental care, ethnic foods and Chinese restaurants" in Chinese-language newspapers, says Dapeng Li of Oakland, Calif.

Li says these publications are located in America and are written for Chinese immigrants.

As for trying to find an ethnic store's Web site and shopping directly for a bargain that way, he says that doesn't lead to much.

"The Web sites of ethnic stores, if they have one, are very simple due to their limited size," Li says. "Most have no price and inventory information. Even if they have, they are not updated" often.

Subscribe and save
If you do read another language, or if you're able to wade through the basics, consider subscribing to e-mails on those sites offering special deals. They often offer bargains English speakers can take advantage of, and they'll save you the constant scouting in multiple languages.

Recently, LAN.com, an alliance of several airlines that serve Chile, Peru and Ecuador, sent out an e-mail offering a discount "exclusivo para estudiantes en LAN.com. Aproveche este descuento y viaje desde Miami a Lima, Bogotá, Quito o Guayaquil."

In other words, a good deal for students flying from Miami to Lima, Bogotá, Quito or Guayaquil, open to anyone with basic Spanish -- or patience and a dictionary. Not bad for reading an e-mail.

A quick trip to the site reveals that you can actually find those deals in English with a couple of clicks. There are several last-minute deals to South America for $300 or less. Once on the site, an ad flashing on the side offers the chance to enter a contest to win five tickets to South America.

-- Posted: May 15, 2006
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