Hot! Get Outta Town

The thermometer just hit 114F in Phoenix setting a new record high. It’s that moment in our long, hot summer when the end seems nowhere in sight. Each morning starts with at 90-something degrees, a does of cabin fever, and thoughts of how the heck I will get out of here. Unfortunately, so is everyone else. It makes turning escape fantasies into budget affordable reality a little harder. Here are some tips I try to follow while scanning the Internets for at least an idea of outdoor relief.

Cash in Miles
While it’s pretty much impossible to use airline miles for last minute reward seats in the summer, many airlines let you use miles to buy down the cost of a full-fare ticket. At Delta, for example, you can cash in 10,000 miles for $100 off the ticket price. Alaska Air has a similar discount up to 20,000 miles or $200. United has a Miles & Money program. Think about how many miles you have in your frequent flier account with what it’s worth to get away. Balance that with what you’re saving your miles for (if anything) and how fast you can build up your account again.

Deals on the Down Low
There are some last minute and unannounced sales out there, but it takes a little investigating to find them. American Airlines has a pre-fall sale starting at $39 one way for short hops for travel August 25 – December 14. And I’ve been eyeing a $700 ticket to Madrid. For most of these sales you need to book 7 days in advance, and the sales end this week. Keep your eye on sights like TravelZoo and its Top 20 Deals weekly e-blast. Also sign up for your favorite airline’s email lists for the first word on their sales and last minute weekend fares.

Sweat it Out
If you can make it through Labor Day, fall sales are just around the corner. Traveling on the shoulder of summer and fall is a great time to see cities and countries. Plus its much more affordable than summer fares. Both airlines and destinations look to boost the season just a little longer with offers. Need a carrot to keep your cool for a few more weeks? Check out Fly.com and its Fare Calendar. It will show you best price deals for your trips up to three months out. You’ll already see some boffo deals for travel in late September through November.

It’s tricky to know just when to buy going into fall, but if you always have a wish list or friends to visit, it helps. Know what an average price range is to get to those cities and keep you “go” dates mid-week if possible. Then just be ready to pack your bag and get outta town when the price is right.

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