To save on your next vacation, consider dividing your trip.
Travelers often book nonstop, round-trip fares by default, but that's not always the best bargain. It increasingly pays to consider above board alternatives, such as doubling up on one-way fares, and booking open-jaw flights that incorporate different cities.
"There aren't many hard and fast rules anymore except: Check out the alternatives," said Ed Perkins, a contributing editor for SmarterTravel.com. All it takes is a few extra minutes on a favorite fare search site.
"Compared with 10 years ago, a lot more routes, particularly domestically, the one-way ticket price is really half the round trip," said Perkins.
Fare sales can offer breaks, especially on competitive routes and ones where there's a directional difference (meaning flying from point A to B is cheaper than B to A). For example, a Kayak.com search turned up a $594 Delta round-trip flight between Portland, Ore., and Honolulu in February. The cheapest one-way flights were a $288 American flight to Hawaii and a $207 US Airways flight back to the mainland, netting savings of $99.
Internationally, the deals can be even better, if you're willing to uncouple your trans-Atlantic flights with those throughout Europe.
"It's a whole different ballgame," said Rick Seaney, chief executive of FareCompare.com. "There are lots of low-cost carriers with weird and wonderful pricing." Use a meta-search site such as SkyScanner.com or Momondo.com, which incorporate many inexpensive carriers into their results.
For travel between New York and Cologne, Germany, in February the cheapest option is a $1,058 Air Berlin flight making one stop. But travelers who book a round-trip to London could pay just $785, and another $80 on a round-trip Ryanair fare between London and Cologne. Total saved: $193.