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Use the Web to Find Travel Deals

The prices for fuel and other travel-related amenities remain high, that's why spending some time researching your destination and travel options can help you stretch your summer vacation budget. The key to finding the best rates is knowing where to look.

The following tips - also listed in Kiplinger's 24 Best Travel Sites - can give you some good ideas on where to start your search.

Airfare: If you're predisposed to fly on a specific airline - because of frequent flier benefits or limited non-stop flight opportunities - then look no further than the individual airline's website. However, if price is important, expedia.com and travelocity.com provide you with comparisons of costs and flight schedules from various airlines.

Kayak.com scours hundreds of online sources, including expedia and travelocity for the cheapest fares. If you can be flexible regarding the flight time and destination, your chances of finding a better deal are increased. The bingtravel.com price predictor makes recommendations as to whether to buy a ticket now or wait for the price to decrease, based on its price forecasts.

Lodging: Hotels.com is a popular one-stop resource for accommodations and prices at more than 130,000 properties. Watch for specials on Thursdays, when the listings are updated, as well as throughout the year when bargains are offered through the site's different savings opportunities, including, a free night's stay for every 10 nights spent at any combination of the program's member properties.

Priceline.com allows you to bid on the accommodations you are seeking, based on the star class, location and dates of your stay. It's possible to save up to 60 percent off published rates and last-minute bookings can result in luxury lodging for less than $100 per night.

For quaint inns and bed and breakfast locations, bedandbreakfast.com provides details on even the tiniest inns, along with information on the best deals in your destination area. If you're interested in a more casual travel experience, hostelz.com offers more than 47,000 hostel and other property listings, many offering private, hotel-like accommodations. Finally, homeaway.com offers a large selection of rental properties worldwide.

Car Rentals: In addition to hotel and airfare, hotwire.com publishes rates of prior car rental deals made in the previous month compared to rates found on other leading retail sites.

Many sites allow customers to write reviews of the experience with a hotel, car rental facility or airline. Kiplinger's advises travelers to be wary of sites that offer over-thetop praise as these ratings and comments may be submitted by property owners and others with a vested interest. If you read the reviews, look at the ones with midrange ratings to try and get a more balanced perspective.

Teachable Moments

With a little research, you can plan a fun-filled, memorable vacation that fits practically any budget. Involve the entire family in the planning process. Allow older children and teens to use some of the online resources listed here to find the best price for certain aspects of your itinerary. In addition to getting their input regarding the trip, they will also gain a better understanding of the cost involved in a family vacation.