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Because they create frantic dashes from one gate to another, layovers are often panic inducing. Then there’s the stopover, a full day (or more!) between major flights, that allow for bonus exploration in cities as far flung as Hong Kong and Reykjavik—and have definitely become a recent trend among savvy travelers. But what about connections where you have anywhere from 4 to 8 hours between flights? This sweet middle spot allows for what we’re calling a “playover.” A playover happens when an airport is close enough to a downtown to make a day trip doable—without missing the flight. Not only is this a better way to pass time, but it’s a great opportunity to check big cities off your bucket list. So forget leafing through the latest gossip rags at Hudson News and instead add a playover itinerary in one of these great cities to your next vacation.

RELATED: America’s 7 hottest beer neighborhoods

Legal Harborside at the Envoy Hotel

Boston

Beantown is named for the baked dish, but Boston is also tiny like a bean and super easy to explore with little time! Logan Airport offers a quick and free bus to the Seaport District; or take an airport shuttle to the “T” which drops visitors downtown in 30 minutes.

If Seaport District bound, stroll the historic Boston Fish Pier where workers arrive at dawn to move fresh catches from boats to nearby eateries. Speaking of noshing on seafood, check out either Legal Harborside (those views!) or Outlook Kitchen at the Envoy Hotel. Afterward, stroll the 1.5-acre Rose Kennedy Greenway for selfies, then view a few masterworks at the waterfront Institute of Contemporary Art before circling back to Logan.

Seeking a more iconic Boston? Ride the “T” subway to downtown and exit at the Aquarium stop. First, check out the Old State House—site of the Boston Massacre. From here, walk one block to the Old South Meeting House—where the Boston Tea Party began. Next, walk 10-minutes to Neptune Oyster where you’ll wait in line (but thank us later) for killer lobsta’ rolls. You’re a stone’s throw to the Paul Revere House so check that out and while you’re there grab a cannoli from Mike’s Pastry before returning to Logan.

Cost: Free to Seaport District, $2.50 to return; $2.75 each way to/from downtown

Travel time: 18 mins to Seaport; 30 mins to downtown

Centennial Park

Atlanta

Take a bite out of the Big Peach! Aboard a downtown-bound MARTA train, a half-day playover in Atlanta is as easy and refreshing as a glass of sweet tea.

Ride either the Red or Gold line to the PeachTree Center stop. Upon arrival, walk 10 minutes east down Andrew Young International Boulevard to Centennial Olympic Park and check out the Fountain of Rings, a spectacular water display and direct antecedent to the Bellagio Fountains in Vegas. Where to go next? Both the Georgia Aquarium (think puffins, penguins and piranhas) and World of Coca Cola (think timelines, tasting rooms and TV ads) are a mere five-minute walk from the fountains and prime Atlanta attractions.

You’re not going to leave without filling your belly with Southern food, right? Jump in a taxi or ride share and zip down MLK Boulevard to beloved Busy Bee Cafe, an Atlanta fixture since the ’40s, and dream of fried chicken and buttermilk biscuits while waiting in the long queue. Afterward, zip back to downtown and take an Inside CNN Studio Tour (if there’s time) before returning to Hartsfield Airport via the Dome/GWCC/Philips Arena/CNN Center transit station.

Cost: $2.50 each way

Travel time: 20 mins to downtown

ALSO: Sign up for CheapCash and get more “go” for less dough!

Millennium Park

Chicago

Stop whining about how much you hate O’Hare Airport and start marveling at world-famous art and architecture instead. Both Midway and O’Hare are connected to downtown via the city’s “El” rail system making a half-day playover in Chi-Town a cinch!

If coming from O’Hare, exit at the Washington stop and hit the ground running. Millennium Park is justly famous and includes numerous thrills within a span of few blocks. Snap a selfie in front of photogenic Cloud Gate (aka “the Bean”); stroll through magnificent Lurie Garden; then cross the Frank Gehry-designed BP Bridge to Maggie Daley Park for impressive Lakeshore views.

From here, stroll north along Columbus Ave and admire groovy Aqua Tower. At Wacker Drive, descend a flight of stairs and follow the Chicago Riverwalk past pretty flowerbeds, tourist boats and architectural icons like Marina City and the Wrigley Building. At State Street, walk south past the iconic Chicago Theatre and onward to Revival Food Hall. Grab some brisket at Smoque and a cookie for the road at Mindy’s Hot Chocolate before making the two-block walk to the Jackson stop for an airport return.

Cost: $2.50 each way

Travel time: 50 mins via O’Hare; 35 via Midway

Denver Union Station

Denver

Unless you arrive at Denver International Airport wearing cross-country skis, you probably won’t have time to hit the slopes. But did you know the MallRide will connect you to downtown’s revitalized Union Station and its many attractions in under 40 minutes for free?

A six-stop journey connects the airport to the city and brings visitors to Union Station, which underwent a dramatic transformation in 2014. The restaurants inside the station are not to be skipped and include the culinary stylings of several James Beard Award winners. Grab a seat at the bar at Mercantile Dining & Provision and enjoy farm-to-table fare like almond crusted halibut cheeks and duck confit; Ultreia is also helmed by a Beard winner. Afterward, try a boozy shake from Milkbox Ice Creamery.

Time to work it all off. Walk 10 minutes to Larimer Square, a historic district and site of Denver’s founding. Mercifully, the Square is largely free of chains and it’s worth perusing the boutiques and admiring the pretty lights strung up over the streets. Next, circle back toward Union Station via 15th Street, but this time stroll behind the building for a dose of greenery including Centennial Flower Gardens and Common Park. Both sit in close proximity to Elitch’s, an urban amusement park, but you’ve got another plane to catch so best return to Union Station for a ride back to the airport.

Cost: Free

Travel time: 40 mins to Union Station

The Park Las Vegas

Las Vegas

A city that sucks up money faster than a dust buster, Vegas is perfect for just a few hours and McCarran Airport’s close proximity to the Strip makes it easily doable via a budget-friendly WAX express bus.

In two stops, you’ll arrive at New York-New York. Walk north to the Park Las Vegas, Sin City’s charming desert playground, and check out 40-foot sculpture “Bliss Dance.” Afterward, do dinner at speakeasy-like Bavette’s Steakhouse inside the new Park MGM (save room for the cream pie). For a post-prandial libation, hit up Chandelier at the swank Cosmopolitan and order the off-menu “Flower Drink.”

Ditch the crowds in front of the Bellagio Fountains and instead see the show from Hyde Bellagio (there’s no cover before 10pm). Next, cross the street and press your luck at the LINQ Hotel, stroll the bustling LINQ Promenade and ride the High Roller for stellar Vegas views before taking the WAX bus back to McCarran.

Cost: $2 each way

Travel time: 15 mins to the Las Vegas Strip

Tagged: Cheap Tips, Chicago, City, Destinations, Flights, Las Vegas, Types of Travel

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People groan about layovers, and we can’t help but wonder why. The longer the layover, the more likely it is that we’ll be able to leave the airport and explore! With the inexpensive flights we love often come lengthy layovers—and here are a few of the best layover cities in Europe for making the most of it.

London, England

Pedro Szekely, http://bit.ly/2ckCCIc, Attribution CC BY 2.0

Photo: London | Pedro Szekely, Flickr

Aww, poor you! Do you have a long ol’ layover in London? Just kidding! You’re so lucky—not only is London’s Heathrow a paradise for shoppers (there’s an 11,000 sq ft Harrods inside), but you’re just a 15-minute train ride on the Heathrow Express to central London. What to do with your limited time? Take it from us: Just pick an area and start walking. London is so huge that it’s easy to get overwhelmed if you try to plan too much, but there’s so much to see and do that any direction you pick will yield some serious treasures. A good place to start is the famous St. Paul’s Cathedral; gaze in awe at its ornate golden ceilings before heading across the street to Tate Modern for a dose of contemporary art. Afterwards, you’ve earned a snack, and the place to get it is Borough Market, where the restaurants and shops are open all week and there’s a farmer’s market on the weekends. If you’ve still got some time left, grab a pint at one of the hundreds of neighborhood pubs and just watch the world go by.

Paris, France

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Oui, you can take awhirlwind trip to Paris! Just a 45-minute train ride from Charles de Gaulle Airport will bring you to the massive Châtelet-Les Halles station, where you can store your luggage for a small fee and transfer to any neighborhood you like! Like London, Paris is too sprawling to try to conquer it in less than a day, so pick a single area to wander through and soak up the Parisian lifestyle. We recommend heading to Ile de la Citie, the hopelessly romantic island of Paris, which has the Notre Dame Cathedral at its tip. Drape yourself along the bridges and watch the boats slide by, then wander until you find a cafe (it won’t take long, we promise). Sit down, order a cafe creme, and weigh your options: Sunset boat tour along the Seine? Or postpone your flight indefinitely?

Amsterdam, Netherlands

Moyan Brenn, http://bit.ly/2czKvvi, Attribution CC BY 2.0

Photo: Amsterdam | Moyan Brenn, Flickr

Amsterdam is a fantastic city for long layovers—you’re a 20-minute train ride from Amsterdam Central Station, where you can store your luggage, and hello: This is a seriously fun city, with an active nightlife and interesting museums. If you arrive in the evening, the infamous Red Light District is a quick walk from the station; by day, don’t miss renting a bike and pedaling along the city’s beautiful canals like the locals. Make time to stop for cafes! But keep in mind: When in Amsterdam and inneed of coffee, ask for a cafe—asking for a coffee shop will get you directions to the nearest marijuana shop. And if you only have time to see one major sight, make it the Anne Frank House, the truly moving museum that chronicles one Jewish family’s experience during the Holocaust.

Istanbul, Turkey

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There’s so much shopping and dining just outside your gate in Istanbul that you may never want to leave the airport. That said, even beyond those airstrips, Istanbul is heaven for layovers. Everyone who leaves the airport has to pay a $20 visa fee, but after that, it’s simple to hop on an express bus. Once out of the airport, check it out: You’re in an ancient city, a cross between East and West, and spindly minarets puncture the skyline everywhere you look. Don’t miss sightseeing at the famous Blue Mosque, and check out the Grand Bazaar—it’s as fascinating today as it was centuries ago. Stop to have a drink of raki, Turkey’s anise-flavored national drink, and if there’s time, book a boat tour on the gorgeous Bosphorus river.

Venice, Italy

Gondolas in the canals in Venice. Surely this is the prettiest of the best layover cities.

Photo: Venice | Moyan Brenn, Flickr

If you have a lengthy layover at the Marco Polo Airport (a popular stopping point for travelers going to Asia), by all means, take the opportunity to explore Venice. From the airport, follow the signs for the water bus to central Venice, and hop on! Enjoy the sight of Venice appearing on the waterline, then exit at San Marco square for a jaw-dropping scene: Here is a majestic city plaza (once the largest in Europe!) and an ancient cathedral gorgeous enough to make you cry. Grab a gelato, take a stroll around the square, and enjoy the ambiance—pigeons rise from the crowds in startled flocks, and it seems the whole world has congregated in what was once the most powerful city in Europe and Asia. If you’re feeling posh, treat yourself to a snack at Cafe Florian, reputedly the oldest cafe in Europe, and sit surrounded by Neo-Baroque gilt mirrors and waiters in traditional tuxedos. Afterwards, take a gondola ride to see Venice as it was meant to be seen: from the water.

Madrid, Spain

Игорь М, http://bit.ly/2ckCrMT, Attribution CC BY 2.0

Photo: Types of Madrid | Игорь М, Flickr

A long layover in Madrid is so good we’re jealous. You can store your luggage at Madrid Barajas Airport and hop on an airport transfer shuttle to Plaza Mayor, Madrid’s bustling main square.Visit The Prado Museum for a chance to see one of the world’s finest collections of European art, but really, Madrid is entertaining just to walk through. There are so many tempting places to eat and drink (the Market of San Miguel! stop for tapas and wine at multiple bars!), and so many sites of historic significance—the Royal Palace of Madrid and Plaza de Cibeles among them. Meaning all you need to do is point your feet in a direction and keep moving for an adventure.

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Tagged: City, Flights, International, Tips & advice

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Think flying can’t be cheap? We beg to differ, and we’ve got proof. You can find roundtrip airfare under $200 on the CheapTickets site, any day of the week. Here’s a sampling of the good stuff:

Cheap flights for June

Travel Dates Departure & Destination Starting Price
June 3–7 Chicago to LA $161
June 4–7 Chicago to Portland $118
June 8–12 Nashville to Chicago $134
June 29–13 Boston to Philadelphia $166
June 29–13 Seattle to San Francisco $183

Cheap flights for July

Travel Dates Departure & Destination Starting Price
July 13–17 Denver to Salt Lake City $185
July 27–31 Dallas to New Orleans $175
July 27–31 Atlanta to Miami $192

So whether it’s near or far, you can snag cheap flights for less than you think, and as soon as next weekend. Now get out there and explore these great United States!

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Tagged: California, Cheap Tips, City, Family, Flights, L.A., Last minute travel, New York City

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A good musical will make you want to sing, dance, laugh, cry and…travel? Naturally. Some of the world’s most vibrant cities and cultures inspired its most most popular theater acts. These musical destinations are calling (or singing) your name:

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Chicago: ‘Chicago’

Kick off your travels with a city so great—and so infamously gritty—that they wrote an entire musical about it. But things have changed since Chicago’s Prohibition-era storyline, and the city’s feel is now more classically midwestern friendly than crime-ridden, thanks to the store-lined Michigan Avenue and the bars and music venues of neighborhoods like Wicker Park and Lincoln Park. And because of that famous midwestern sensibility, you can soak it all in—and see the show—without breaking the bank.

London: ‘Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street’

Okay, yes, London has inspired some of the most famous musicals ever produced—and plenty of them. But Sweeny Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street is a new classic, capturing the city’s dark humor and history. Have a spooky, Sweeny Todd-inspired adventure on the cheap while exploring London’s ghost-filled past, haunted buildings and ancient theaters, which are some of the oldest in the world.

Austria: ‘The Sound of Music’

Come see the hills that are alive with The Sound of Music! Although Hollywood glamorized the family’s famous escape from the Nazis—the “hills” were actually more like railroad tracks, reported The History Channel—Austria is still a beautiful country nonetheless, and those beautiful Alps are definitely there, whether the Von Trapps crossed them or not. The city of Salzburg, too, has become a popular tourist spot, where you can see the Von Trapps’ home and other film locations.

Greece: ‘Mamma Mia!’

While ABBA’s music inspired Mamma Mia!, Greece’s obvious natural beauty will inspire you to leave your comfort zone—or your hometown—behind. While any Greek island would be an amazing trip, Skopelos (or Kalokairi, as the play renamed it) is located on the beautiful Aegean Sea. Go see for yourself what everyone was singing about, and you might just burst into song yourself.

Thailand: ‘The King and I’

Here’s an exotic destination for your theater-inspired bucket list: Thailand. You’ll feel like Anna while exploring Eastern culture and this vibrant country, a la The King and I. You may also feel like you won the lottery—Bangkok is both world-renowned and decidedly cheap, despite all the bustle and luxury. If you like taking rides atop elephants, visiting ancient ruins and poking through floating markets, Rodgers and Hammerstein’s Thailand is calling your name.

Africa: ‘The Lion King’

Although originally inspired by Shakespeare’s Hamlet, this musical weaves motifs of power and identity into the African landscape instead of Denmark. While you probably won’t see any lions or hyenas singing a little tune, you can see them wander the bush freely in destinations like Kenya and South Africa. Meaning you’ll have some killer photos to make your Instagram followers jealous.

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Tagged: Beach, City, International, Music

Alexander Santo

Alexander Santo

Alexander Santo

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Memories are really the most precious gift that can be given, but have you ever tried to stick a memory in a box and put a bow on it? It’s darn-right impossible. So let us turn to experiential gift giving this holiday season, because gifting experiences is fun for everyone and the best bang for your buck. It also comes with the guarantee that your carefully thought-out gift won’t be re-gifted or end up stuffed in the back of the closet behind dusty VHS tapes. 

The Nutcracker at the Joffrey Ballet

The Nutcracker at the Joffrey Ballet | Flickr CC: Gabriel Saldana

Tickets to ‘The Nutcracker’ — Chicago’s renowned Joffrey Ballet will be putting on The Nutcracker throughout December. Make this an early Christmas present for family or friends and get in the holiday mood with one of the most cultural Christmastime classics. Get 10% off tickets to “The Nutcracker” performances and other ballets across major U.S. cities by using the promo code BLACKFRIDAY10 Cheaptickets.com.*

Seats at a Big Ten basketball game — Winter is great time to hunker down and watch some basketball. College teams play nearly every night of the week, so there are plenty of dates to choose from, and tickets are usually pretty affordable. Ohio State plays Illinois in Columbus on Jan. 3 at 5 p.m. Tickets start at $32 on Cheaptickets.com

Beach getaway

A trip to the tropics — Forget the gift giving and put that money toward a tropical getaway for you and your bae this holiday season. All-inclusive resorts can be quite affordable and typically include food and some excursions. An all-inclusive trip to the Grand Park Royal Cancun Caribe resort through Cheaptickets starts at about $144 per night, for example. Deals are constantly changing, and holiday sales are burstingwith them right now**, so keep your eye out for a dream destination.

Related: Urban holiday escapes: Cheap rates in big cities

 

Take up yoga

Take up yoga | Flickr CC: elidr

Pass to a yoga studio — Or really any sort of gym membership, depending on who you buy for. Plenty of people are desperate to spend some time on themselves, be that through the calming effects of yoga or relieving stress at, say, a boxing gym, but don’t want to fork out the extra $100 or so per month for a membership. Gyms in every city offer varying membership packages so you can choose what would work best for your gift receiver.

Tickets to the first showing of Star Wars: The Force Awakens — This may be the perfect gift, assuming, of course, that the person you’re buying for is into Star Wars and this isn’t just some scam to get them to the midnight premier with you. Buy tickets ASAP though–some theaters are already selling out.

Go on a distillery tour

Go on a distillery tour | Flickr CC: Ben

Distillery tour — A trip along the Kentucky Bourbon Trail might be exactly what your gift receiver needs to warm up this winter. Tours at any of the most well-known distilleries run between $5 to $30 and typically include tons of rich, bourbon-soaked history and lessons on how to get the most flavor out of your bourbon.

Sugar Bowl tickets — Since tickets to the Super Bowl are a little unattainable (think upwards of $4k), nab up a pair of tickets to the Sugar Bowl in New Orleans. Isn’t college football more exciting anyway? The game is scheduled for New Year’s Day, so these tickets come with the added perk of ringing in the New Year in the Big Easy. Tickets start at $166 on Cheaptickets.com. Prices will spike once the teams that will actually play in the Sugar Bowl are determined, so throw your allegiances aside and get a head start on your shopping.

Play laser tag

Play laser tag | Flickr CC: heipei

Laser tag — Insert a little competition into your gift. Laser tag has the potential to provide hours of good ol’ fashioned, competitive fun, and it is usually very affordable. It’s only $8.99 per person for a round at the Blazer Tag Adventure Center in Austin, Texas, for example. So find the nearest laser tag center near you and have at it.

Take flying lessons

Take flying lessons | Flickr CC: woodleywonderworks

Flying lessons — Giving flying lessons could also mean making someone’s dream come true. You can choose the extremity of this gift as well, opting in for the whole nine yards and giving the beginnings of a flying career, or gifting a pass for a one-time trip up into the air. Companies all over the country offer different packages. Windy City Flyers in Chicago offers a “Discovery Flight” package for $225 that includes an hour flight in a Cessna 172 and pre- and post-flight briefings. Twoadditional passengers can ride along for free.

Become a master chef

Become a master chef | Flickr CC: DC Central Kitchen

Cooking class — A cooking class is the gift the keeps on giving, especially if you plan on gifting this to a roommate. Take your pick of food and type of class, because these offerings span the spectrum. Learn how to make desserts or ethnic foods, or dishes that pair well with certain types of wine. Learn to prepare four courses or just an appetizer, vegan or meat-focused. Some cooking classes are even diving into the BYOB trend so you can get your buzz on behind the counter.

*Use promo code BLACKFRIDAY10 to get 10% off all event tickets Nov. 23-30, 2015.

**Use promo code RIBBON to get 20% off qualifying hotel stays Nov. 23-30, 2015.

Also, get up to $20 back in CheapCa$h with any flight booking of $100 or more Nov. 23-30, 2015.

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Tagged: Cheap Tips, Family, Holidays, Seasonal

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A year ago I moved from Ohio to Florida, a grueling 15 hour drive I luckily only had to make once. Since then, I’ve probably spent at least one weekend a month visiting my parents at home or friends out of state,  enough to know what my favorite thing on the menu is at all the terminal restaurants and where all the good outlets are at Tampa International.  In the last year I’ve learned is that traveling isn’t always fun, but I’ll never take it for granted.

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1. Flying is freedom – When I graduated from college I moved to a city where I didn’t know anyone and I’d only visited once, but I always knew home was only a flight away. Knowing that made the move a little less scary, and being able to visit friends and explore the cool cities where they live is so much fun. Flying is both the freedom to go home and anywhere else.

2. Flying is basically time travel – Have you ever been on one of those flights that leaves in one time zone and then, like magic, lands at almost the exact same time in another time zone. The feeling of getting of a plane and having not lost any time is the air is amazing. There is just something about it that makes you feel like you’ve beaten the system.

3. It makes the world smaller –  50 years ago if you wanted to talk to a friend who lived out of town, you wrote them a letter and put it in the mail because long distance phone calls were expensive and visiting was practically out of the question. Since then, the world has shrunk with access to air travel that would have been totally out of the questions for our parents and grandparents. Flying just isn’t the major event it used to be, it’s part of the normal human experience, and that is incredible.

4. Deals deals deals – Every time I check my email I have a notification about a fare sale. Nothing beats a deal, and when it comes to booking flights, I try to save as much as I can where I can. Flying is expensive, but off-peak deals and flash sales make it easier to find something in my price range and maybe goon a trip I otherwise wouldn’t have. Try the Flights under $200 section on CheapTickets.com. (Click the link and scroll down.)

5. You can make new friends – Talking to people seated next to you on the plane is not for everyone, it’s not even always for me. But occasionally you meet someone who lives in your area or is visiting the same place you are and, BAM, you already have something in common. With flying you get to meet people that otherwise you never would have, and even if that person is only someone you vent with about a flight delay or chit chat about travel plans, there is something to be said about being exposed to different people.

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Tagged: Cheap Tips, City, Family, Flights, Last minute travel, Tips & advice

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There are three basic rules to being the traveler with cheap-seat bragging rights: patience, persistence and flexibility. Find out what that entails with these 7 tips to keep your airfare low and your deal-hungry head held high.

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Know when to book:
Like they say, the early bird catches the cheapest worm. In the case of flights, Tuesday morning has become the traditional deal day. One airline will announce a sale, blast an email and maybe post to its social media sites—and the others will match it or one-up it for obvious reasons: They all want your money, no matter how little. The two caveats here: The best prices are often for travel within the near future, even that week; and the seats disappear fast. So if you see a fare that fits your budget, grab it.

Get the message: Register for email fare alerts from discount sites, airlines and even airports and you’ll have the inside track to the latest travel deals. For example, CheapTickets offers extra discounts on hotels when booking a flight, special promo codes and a heads-up on fare sales. Clicking through links indicates that you’re an active traveler, which can lead to bonus deals. Boom–the scales in your inbox love-hate relationship just tipped.

Flexibility stretches your funds: There are times to dig your heels in and there are times to let things slide a little. Like travel dates and times, departure and arrival airports. First of all, midweek flights are typically cheaper than Fridays or Sundays. Can you manage the overnight or crack-of-dawn flight? You’ll save there too. Could you take a connecting flight instead of nonstop? Annoying, maybe, but budget-friendly, almost always. Also, search for flights leaving from airports other than your closest option, as long as you factor in the cost to get there. It’s even possible that departing from and returning to two different airports can bring down the price.

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Check early. Check often.
If you know where and basically when you want to travel, start planning well ahead of schedule. First, research peak travel times and try to book outside those dates. Even a day can make a difference. Then, do a price search a few times over the course of a few weeks to get a sense of the average cost—so you’ll know when a deal’s a deal. Armed with the knowledge, start checking daily or even twice a day. The morning after you book your flight, search again. If fares have gone down significantly, you can usually cancel penalty-free and re-book.

Be social. Add airlines and discount flight sites to your Facebook and Twitter circles, and you may just catch a deal that other company outlets don’t promote. These are often short-lived, so act fast.

De-clutter. We’re referring to your website history. It remembers things,like your latest airfare search. If you clear your cache, you’ll do away with any stale data and get the freshest information.

Take the package deal. You might think that packages are devised to trick you into spending more. Think again. Booking flight, hotel and car rental at once can save you loads, particularly if you’re not picky about where you’re going. For instance, you planned on Florida, but there’s a mind-boggling deal to South Carolina. If it’s technically the beach you want, both oblige. So why the heck not? On that vein, try searching for the type of trip you’d like (ski trip, cruise, family) and see what comes up. You might be pleasantly surprised at an unexpected destination deal.

Tips and information for this article were sourced on HARO including experts from Barcelona Experience, Adventure Tasmania Online, H.E. Freeman Enterprises, The Travel Tart, and Travel with Kevin and Ruth.

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Tagged: Cheap Tips, Flights

Elisa Drake

Elisa Drake

Elisa Drake

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Cancellations and delays. Courtesy of Chris Waits.

Cancellations and delays. Courtesy of Chris Waits.

When mother nature gives you heavy rain or high winds, airports get flight delays andcancellations. This could be a blessing or a curse for the casual traveler who was just trying to escape to some warmth over the weekend. When you get that notification from your airline saying your flight home has been canceled, you are either celebrating because you get more time in the sunshine, or weeping as you worry about the extra day’s effects on your wallet. Airlines are not required to compensate its customers for any extra costs incurred due to a delay or cancellation. They are even less likely to do so if those delays and cancellations are caused by something they cannot control, such as the weather. Here are some tips to help you make the most out of your extra days in a cheap way.

Remain calm.

This may seem obvious, but it will go a long way in making the scheduling debacle work in your favor. Stay optimistic, and look at this as an opportunity for more time on vacation, not a huge disturbance in your schedule. If you panic and get upset with the airlines, not only are you making things harder on yourself, you probably aren’t helping the airline out very much either. Be cool, and let them find you an alternative return flight. If you try to take things into your own hands and book another flight, you are likely to end up paying more. The airline you were originally scheduled to fly also may not give you your money back. So let them do their thing while you sit back with your toes in the sand.

Look twice for lodging.

Vacancy. Courtesy of Lauren Mitchell.

Vacancy. Courtesy of Lauren Mitchell.

This may fall into the “remain calm” category, but when you are scrambling to find somewhere to stay after you find your flight is cancelled, do not pick the first room that pops up on a google search. It will be tempting because the pressure is on, but investing some time in the search will save you in the long run. Some airlines may offer to help compensate, but don’t count on it. The rates at some hotels skyrocket if you book the day of, but others drop as hotels struggle to fill vacancies. Take your time and find one of those options. Check search engines such as Cheaptickets.com that will do some of the leg work for you.

Keep your eyes on the skies.

A snowy O’Hare International Airport. Courtesy of Cliff.

A snowy O’Hare International Airport. Courtesy of Cliff.

If your flight was delayed because of weather, chances are dozens of other flights were delayed as well. Depending on the size of the storm that hit your home airport, it may take a couple of days to get things flowing smoothly again, meaning more delays in the days following the original cancellation. As a traveler, you are basically at the mercy of the airlines in this department, but being aware of the higher possibility of another delay can help save you money. Make time to eat a meal before going to the airport, and stock up on a couple snacks for the voyage home. That way, if you do end up getting stranded in the airport for hours, you are not forced to choose between starving and forking out $10 for bag of Cheez-Its.

Spend time outside.

The hike to Alamere Falls in Point Reyes National Seashore in California. Courtesy of Alexi Ueltzen.

The hike to Alamere Falls in Point Reyes National Seashore in California. Courtesy of Alexi Ueltzen.

One of the reasons the great outdoors is so great is because it’s free. If you spent a weekend full of activities that were accounted for in your travel budget, take your extra day or two to deviate from the expected. Explore the nature of whatever area you are stranded in, and enjoy the climate before you are shipped back to the frigid north. If the beach was your main draw south in the first place and you’ve had enough sun, check out a nearby town. Do some window shopping and see the sights.

Cut down on transportation costs.

Bike share in San Jose, California. Courtesy of Don DeBold.

Bike share in San Jose, California. Courtesy of Don DeBold.

When planning out your extra time, account for the fact that you probably do not have a car. Pick a spot you can head to in the morning and remain at for most ofthe day, cutting down on transportation costs. Renting a car for an extra day can tack a pretty penny onto your budget. Ask your airline about accommodating you with a rental car, but it is unlikely they would provide you one free of charge. If your location allows, check into alternative transportation such as Car2Go or a bike rental. Most cities with bike rental programs rarely charge more than a dozen dollars a day.

Tagged: Beach, Cheap Tips, Family, Flights, Florida, Food & drink, FREE!, Last minute travel, Tips & advice

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By Derek Brown

Volunteer your seat on an oversold flight for an airline voucher. Credit: Pylon757.

We all know that planes are packed, and the airlines need a little help when they overbook a flight. The solution: Make this summer vacation pay for your next airline ticket with a volunteer bump. The process — which works by volunteering to give up your seat in exchange for a later flight and travel voucher — can be especially fruitful during the busy summer travel season.

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Tagged: Flights, FREE!, Tips & advice

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ORB_bloghdr_FlightsCheap_530x130

This week’s flights on the cheap are coming from Delta Air Lines and American Airlines! Fabulous round-trip flight deals to sunny LA or sultry Las Vegas are at your fingertips when you travel from August 17 through November 17, 2010.

Delta flights on sale through July 29, 2010, to WestPalm Beach, New York City and more:

  • Denver to Salt Lake City: $78
  • Los Angeles to Las Vegas: $98
  • San Fransisco to Los Angeles: $98

American Airlines flights on sale to West Palm Beach, New York City and more:

  • Chicago to Atlanta: $138
  • Washington to Miami: $198
  • Orlando to Chicago: $188

This sale ends soon, so book fast to score with these sweet flight deals. See individual flight sales for complete terms and conditions.

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Tagged: City, Flights