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Best Days, Months and Hours to Travel

When it comes to saving money on your next trip, it’s often in the timing.

The best selling book “Buy Ketchup in May and Fly at Noon” and its sequel “Buy Shoes on Wednesday and Tweet at 4:00” are chock full of tips highlighting the best times to book a trip, fly an airplane and even get dinner reservations. Check out these highlights:

Best Times to Book Lodging

When it comes to lodging, some pre-planning could save you a pretty penny. Many hotel sales staffs have quarterly quotas, similar to that of car salespeople.

For the cheapest rates, the books say to call and make a reservation at the end of March, June, September or December, when employees will likely be eager to make a sale before the quarter closes. It doesn’t matter when you plan to check in — the sale counts at the time it’s booked. If your travel dates are flexible, ask when they expect to have the most vacancies. Hotels know months in advance when they’ll be busy, so you could get a great rate if you plan your trip during a slower time.

Meet With Concierge After 6 p.m.

Need a dinner reservation when you’re in town? During your stay, expect the concierge to be most attentive after 6 p.m. That’s typically when he or she has finished making the bulk of their reservations for the day and can be at your service even more. Once the concierge is free, he or she will have no problem helping you plan your activities and may even offer some discounted vouchers for anything from shopping to snorkeling.

Rent Cars on Tuesdays or Wednesdays

As far as getting around once you’ve reached your destination, the best days to rent a car are Tuesdays and Wednesdays. Business travelers usually have their cars by then, and you’ll beat the city dwellers that want wheels for the weekend. Another tip: avoid an offer for an upgrade. Rental agencies will sometimes upsell you when they’re out of compact cars. Instead, ask if you can get a sweeter ride without an additional charge. This is best to do during midday hours, after the early birds have already picked up their cars.

Visit Hawaii in May or October

Another way to get the most bang for your travel buck is to visit popular destinations during the offseason, when there are fewer tourists. For instance, travelers to Hawaii can score great deals on airfare and hotel rooms during May or October. The weather is great, plus you’ll miss the crowds and costs of the high season from December through April, when everything can be as much as double the price.

Cruise in April or November

For those who’d rather sail the high seas, cruise lines offer some of the best deals in April and November, when they move their ships around the world for seasonal route changes. These voyages aren’t cheap for the companies, so they’ll discount travel as much as 50% to get folks onboard. Take advantage of cheap spa treatments and other services during the late morning and early afternoon when the ship is in port and there’s less demand.

Visit New York City in January

Finally, if an urban escape is more your speed, the best time to visit, say, New York City on a budget is January and February. With the holiday tourists gone, it’s easier and cheaper to book flights, hotel rooms, Broadway tickets and restaurant reservations. You may even score post-holiday sales at some of the city’s most famous department stores.

What are some of your favorite money-saving travel tips? Connect with me on Twitter @Farnoosh and use the hashtag #finfit.