Most people don't really exploit all the fare search options that the Internet gives them. They check the airline websites, and then they have a couple of favored travel websites – like Farecast or Kyak. They don't really think about how these things could run a lot deeper. Taking a vacation on a budget can be quite challenging in these times of runaway inflation. There are basically two things you have to do, and do well if you are to keep within your budget. Find the lowest fares, and you don't make sure that you understand how best to use any rewards travel programs that you can find.
Let's start with the low fares thing. It isn't as easy these days as it used to be to find these. To begin with, not every fare website lists every airline. The airlines sometimes just pull their listings from the major travel websites and the tell you to come directly to their website if you want to fly with them.
Some airlines like JetBlue, mostly use Twitter to announce their cheapest fares. You won't find those fares anywhere else. In short, there's no one place you can go for all your information.
After that, you need to cover the websites that do their searches on multiple travel websites – FareCompare and Kayak come to mind. Looking at ITASoftware and Airfare Watchdog could really give you the extra edge. ITA Software is the database that all the other travel portals check with for their information. And Airfare Watchdog is a place that has information from real people.
It's not one of those automated deals. People, when they come by great fares, post this information on this website. These are about all the different services that you have to keep in mind if you're hell-bent on taking a vacation on a budget.
Finding the lowest and most competitive fare is only one part of what you have to do though. The other part has to do with finding and using a rewards travel program. Before you part with any cash, you really want to see if a frequent flyer program or a credit card reward program can help you.
It wouldn't be a bad idea to look for a credit card that rewards your spending with travel points they could redeem on airfares, hotel stays and so on.