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Can you save money planning your vacation online?

If the thought of frolicking in the sun and surf sounds really appealing right about now, but your bank account is as dry as the Caribbean sand, you do have an alternative: Booking your vacation online. In fact, according to the Travel Industry Association of America, 42 million Americans actually booked travel using the Internet in 2003.

Save money by planning your next vacation on the Internet with Web sites like Fodors, OneTravel, and Travelocity. You can easily buy your next airline ticket, book a hotel and rent a car all with the click of your keyboard. Plus, you'll save time by not going to a travel agent and quite often spend less money, too.

Click around and save
Look for everyday deals -- bonus frequent-flier mile rewards and major airlines touting Internet-only supersaver fares. Airlines, such as American, also offer inexpensive fares for Web shoppers such as a $126 round-trip fare from Chicago to Fort Lauderdale, or a $79 round-trip fare if you fly from New York (LaGuardia) to Miami. Want to travel with a friend? Some airlines offer companion fares. Look for a 35 percent discount off Northwest's Every Day fare when traveling with a buddy.

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Hotel chains, such as Hyatt, offer discounted pricing and have a $129 per night rate in Orlando if you book online -- a saving of $30.

How it works: Most Web sites like Travelocity and Expedia require you to become a member -- all for free. You'll create a profile by filling out a form that asks you your name, address and phone number for their records and your repeat visits. Then you'll create a login name and password so that you can have access to their reservations system -- much like a travel agent would. Providing them with your contact information, such as your phone number, is helpful to you in the event your reservations change, so they can get in touch with you.

What should you remember before you sail away to the Pacific? Take advantage of the Internet's biggest benefit: Comparison-shopping. Not all Web sites will always have what you're looking for. View all the available travel dates and times from the luxury of your own home at any time of day from as many Web sites as you want.

There's a deal out there for you.

Myra Cristobal contributed to this story.

-- Updated: Jan. 8, 2003


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See Also
Tips for the Europe-bound vacationer
Money tips for overseas travelers
Safety tips for overseas travelers
Financial advice glossary
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