There are many tricks for purchasing less expensive plane tickets, some I leaned from my travel agent mother. Its best not to book a flight for travel during high season if you want to save money. Shoulder season (spring and fall relative to hemisphere of course) are always the cheapest for hotels and airfare. This is true for organized tours as well. As for booking air, well, I was always taught to avoid Saturdays, Mondays and Fridays, since they have the highest rates. I read recently that for some destinations Saturdays can be a better time to book air, so it’s best to check around. And not all hotels or airlines are created equal when it comes to price. Some carriers purchase a great hedge contract on fuel and can offer much lower prices than the others. . They all purchase hedge contracts on fuel, it just depends on who has gotten the best one. It is typically reflected in the air fare.
Also, if you have the luxury of booking ahead of time, I do really well booking 11 months in advance, as soon as the return segment of the airfare has hit the reservation system. This was the only way to get seats for frequent flier miles, but it works well for better pricing and better seats when purchasing the air as well. It sound s like a lot, but given that I book most of my trips 18 months out, the 11 months ahead of time for the airlines is not that big a thing.
Do you have frequent fire miles you can’t seem to use for a flight? Check the airline’s web site. Many offer hotels as well in exchange for otherwise unusable miles. I stayed in a 4 star hotel in the Ginza district in Tokyo thanks to this little discovery. Four nights cost me $45. I take serious advantage of credit card promotions for both air and hotel, and then throw the credit card away if in no longer want it or it can’t provide me any additional travel advantages once I have redeemed my points.