Fill those empty seats
If possible, fly on Tuesdays or Wednesdays. Those days are often the least in-demand and the least expensive; Saturdays and Sundays are typically the priciest. A Wednesday-to-Wednesday itinerary can often knock 20 percent off ticket prices versus a Saturday-to-Saturday schedule.
Find secret sales
Try the airline equivalent of a private sale by signing up with airfarewatchdog.com. It can help you find the best-kept secrets in air travel: "promo code fares," offered by individual airlines for select dates and routes. Another way to save: Sign up for e-mail alerts to hear about discounted fares as soon as they come out; Southwest, for instance, has been touting $49 fares on select routes on southwest.com.
Hotel Book lateYou can cancel some hotel reservations 24 to 48 hours before your stay with no penalty. And at the last minute, prices may drop. So you can search to find similar accommodations for less, or call the hotel you're booked with to ask that they lower the price you reserved if you find a comparable room for less.
Find a home away from home
If you have a big clan or simply want ample space for minimal money, consider renting a furnished condo or house at your destination. Sites such as homeaway.com and vrbo.com also help families save on meals, since they can eat in their own kitchen rather than go out, notes Nancy Schretter, managing editor of familytravelnetwork.com, a family vacation Website. For example, a three-bedroom home in Phoenix with a hot tub, heated pool, and Wi-Fi connection costs $850 a week, versus $2,151 for three rooms' worth of accommodations with similar amenities at a La Quinta nearby.
Book a motel with extras
If you need to stick to a rock-bottom budget, look for promotions currently available from motels. Chains like Days Inn, Motel 6, and Super 8 typically don't nickel-and-dime you on extras like parking or coffee, and many offer free breakfasts, says Lynn O'Rourke Hayes, the editor of familytravel.com and a blogger for GoodHousekeeping.com.