Travel in off-season
Head to the Caribbean in summer or fall (but avoid the hurricane belt), Europe in winter and Thailand in spring. The trade-off: in some cases, it's less-than-perfect weather (like afternoon rain in Central America); in others, it's the fact that spring-breakers are in school and hotels are trying to fill rooms that would otherwise go empty.
Log on to online aggregators, such as Orbitz and Expedia, to comparison shop airfares. Once you discover which airlines are offering the cheapest rates, click to their official Websites, where you may find additional deals that don't appear anywhere else.
Fly on a low-cost carrier like Southwest; you won't have as many perks (like seat assignments or plush seats), but the savings might be worth it.
Depart from a smaller airport
Baltimore/Washington International Airport, a 45-minute drive from the District, for example, often has cheaper fares than Ronald Regan Washington National Airport, which is a quick subway trip from downtown D.C.
Instead of staying in a resort, opt for a less costly bed-and-breakfast, condominium or villa rental. (Check out bedandbreakfast.com, rentalo.com and resortquest.com.)
Call your credit-card company about frequent-flier programs; associations like AAA (aaa.com) also offer travel-related discounts for members.
Explore travel insurance options like MedJet (medjetassistance.com). It will cost you up front, but if you become seriously ill and need to be flown out of a remote destination, you could save thousands.
Consolidate your credit cards to one that offers frequent-flier miles and rewards programs (like discounted hotel rooms).
Stay in an all-inclusive resort, where everything from accommodations and meals to water sports and excursions is included in the room rate. Just be clear on
what's included—and what's not—before you book your room.
Buy an air-and-hotel package—even if you just want airfare. Odd but true, in some cases it's cheaper to purchase the two bundled together (from an aggregator like Expedia) than it is to purchase airfare alone.