Beating the fares

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By Catherine Holland By Catherine Holland

PHOENIX -- Gas prices have been going up, up, up - and so have air fares. Will the higher fares put a crimp in your travel plans?

Not if you know how to work around them.

Most airlines purchase jet fuel well in advance, with contracts in place for months - even years. So if the airlines aren't yet feeling the pinch of the recent higher oil prices, why are fares going up and up?

Because they can. The airlines will set fares as high as the market will bear, and are using the news about high gas prices to do the work for them. It's nothing new, and most airlines have several years of losses they're trying to recoup.

But these ever-higher fares don't have to mean no vacation for you. There are several things you can do to get a good fare - even these days.

Flexibility is key - Timing is everything, even in travel. If you can schedule your vacation to not include weekend or holiday premium travel, you can save. Midweek travel - typically Monday through Thursday - will offer fares that can save you big bucks - especially if you're going to popular destinations in the Caribbean, Mexico, or Europe.

Travel shoulder or low season - Let's face it, summer is high season (read "expensive") for travel everywhere but here. But if you can travel before Memorial Day or after Labor Day, you can really save, depending on your destination. Shoulder season is one of my favorite times to travel. Using Europe as an example, Shoulder season kicks in after the summer high season, but before the winter low season. Typically, this will be the months of September, October, and into November. The same applies for the spring, with the months of April and May serving as shoulders between the low and high seasons.

I like Shoulder season because the fares are lower - although not as low as Low season - and the crowds are gone. You'll still have decent weather, too.

Consider a package - If you can tie the elements of your trip together, you can often save major money. Using Hawaii as an example, if you purchase a travel package for Maui, with your air, hotel, and rental car included, you'll save on each element over buying each individually. Keep the midweek travel days in mind for even bigger savings.

Don't let the higher fares put your vacation on hold. Work with a travel agent, or do some digging on your own - there are still some great deals out there.

And speaking of deals...

Cancun all-inclusves on sale

One of the most elaborate resorts in the Riviera Maya is on sale! The Occidental Grand Xcaret Resort sits adjacent to the very popular Xcaret Nature Park, with its Butterfly Garden and underground cave tubing.

The rates begin at $1191.50 per person, double occupancy, for round trip air from Phoenix, six nights all-inclusive accommodation, and airport transfers. Taxes and tips are included in this rate, too. Midweek travel is required, but weekend travel is available at a higher rate. The rates are valid for April and May, based on availability.

There are other properties on sale in both the Riviera Maya and the Cancun Hotel Zone - check your calendar and give me a call.

Jamaica all-inclusives on sale

If laid-back Jamaica is more your speed, you can also find the Holiday Inn Sunspree, just outside Montego Bay, on sale.

The rates begin at $1175.50 per person, double occupancy, for round trip air from Phoenix, six nights all-inclusive accommodation, and airport transfers. Taxes and tips are included in this rate, which is based on availability, and requires midweek travel, in April and May.

Trevor G. Browne Class of 82 Reunion

The Las Vegas Weekender is a go! Set for June 1 - June 3, at the Golden Nugget, I'll have booking information on my agency site later in the week. C'mon, Bruins! Let's celebrate our 30th in style!

By air, land, or sea, we're planning your next great vacation at TravelationOnline! Give us a call at 602-252-1140, or contact me directly via e-mail at I look forward to hearing from you!