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"I can't ever find a travel deal!" I hear this all the time. People frequently ask me how I am able to travel so much. The short answer is I know where to look for a flight bargain. The way I like to book my travel is to purchase flights first and then build my trip around the ticket that I have purchased. Where do I find these flight deals? I subscribe to several travel newsletters. The three I read religiously and on a daily basis are secret flying, thrifty traveler, and the flight deal. Once you locate a flight deal you have to act quickly because airfares aren't guaranteed until booked. Access to these newsletters allowed me to purchase roundtrip fare from Atlanta to Tokyo for $554.
Let's say you find a flight but don't have all the cash to purchase the ticket and don't want to put it on a credit card you can use a service like airfordable to put the ticket on layaway. I have used this service many times and I have never had any problems.
Once you find your flight you can use the tools I discussed here to book your lodging.