Using my phone and computer, I was able to track down some great end-of-summer travel deals. From special auctions to last-minute Internet promotions, there are many options for frugal travelers.
''If you want a wallet-friendly vacation, go off-season,'' said Marita Hudson, a spokeswoman for CheapTickets.com, an online service, owned by Cendant Corp., a company listed on the New York Stock Exchange.
CheapTickets.com sells discounted travel packages and stand-alone deals for hotels, cruises, air flights and car rentals. This service also offers a ''Cheap of the Week'' feature, which is a rundown of super cut-rate bargains.
CheapTickets also publishes a quarterly ''Off-Season Deals Report,'' which is a market-by-market rundown of off-peak prices in various cities. Not surprisingly, during hurricane season, New Orleans and South Florida offer some of the steepest discounts.
Of course, CheapTickets.com is not the only discount travel site in cyberspace. The many options include www.priceline.com and www.hotels.com. I even found an Internet site that runs auctions for last-minute travel deals, with prices as low as $1, plus taxes and transaction fees. The website is called www.skyauction.com.
The major travel websites (www.travelocity.com, www.expedia.com and www.orbitz.com) as well as most major airline, car rental and hotel chair sites also sometimes have specials.
For my own little end-of-season trip, I'm taking the off-season route. We're checking into a major resort in the Miami area. Off-season rates represent a significant savings. One resort quoted us a per-night rate of $159, compared to peak season rates of $269 to $429. When I mentioned our Triple-A membership, we were offered $143 per night.
And for that same resort, we found a rate of $100 a night on hotel.com. By staying local, we save at least $500 in gas and amusement park fees. I love roller coasters, but nothing beats a bit of rest and relaxation in an exotic, but local, retreat.