InSITE--Travel Tips on a Budget!

Summer's more than half over, especially if you have to have the kids back in school in early August. Is there time, or money, for one last trip? Sure, but you have to do your homework.

Let's start with the big guns of Internet travel. If you haven't surfed here, you haven't surfed for a vacation. Travelocity's spending a lot of money to get you to spend some of your hard- earned travel dollars with them. But we're here to save.

Let's look for real deals. They have an interesting feature, last minute deals under $250. Large selection, so narrow it down to deals from Savannah only. Narrows it way down. The air and hotel packages could get you a weekend in Atlanta for under $200.

If you're willing to drive a little on your own, and the folks at Savannah International will hate me for this, you have lots more package choices from Jacksonville or Atlanta. Again, if you're willing to drive. Like a weekend in Miami with air and a rental car, again, for about $250.

Travelocity also offers help if you just want to get away, but don't know where. Suggestions for beaches, the great outdoors, or the great indoors, as in romance. See what strikes your fancy.

Before you plunk down the credit card numbers, check Travelocity's main competitor, Expedia, Microsoft's travel site. Some of the same features, including the last minute deals for hotels and air, cruises and rental cars. Along the left side of the screen they offer the same kind of planning help, depending on your interests.

They even have a section I've never seen before. Instead of the usual budget travel, how about one where money is no object? Just pure luxury. This is where you'll find those $300. or $400. a night hotel rooms. We can dream.

Back to reality. I've talked about Priceline before, and it's time for a little reminder here. They're trying to compete with the big sites at the same game, offering regular travel bookings, including last minute travel offers at very competitive prices. They say they offer more ways to save.

But the thing that sets them apart is the way they changed travel. Selling flights and rooms and rental cars that the traditional companies couldn't. The idea, you, the traveler decide how much you want to spend, and for what quality hotel. Recently I made a last minute trip to Atlanta and needed a hotel. I logged into Priceline, offered $30. for one night in a three- star hotel, and got it. That's right. I spent $30. and had a two- room junior suite in Marietta. The Travelocity and Expedia rates were up around $150. for the same room the same night. There are some catches. You can't pick a specific hotel, you have to pay before you find out where you'll stay, and there are no changes allowed, no matter what. It's not for the faint of heart.

To help you through the very confusing Priceline process, another site I've talked about, Bidding for Travel. It's confusing as well, but some reading and research here could save you hundreds of dollars on your next vacation. Read their frequently asked questions before you bid, and before you ask dumb questions on this site. The administrators are tough. Scroll down see the lists of places Priceline has sold hotels.

I picked Georgia, and scrolled until I found something we know. Someone got a room at the Radisson in the Historic District right after the 4th of July weekend for $60. a night. I checked around the other travel sites, and found the weekday rate ranging from $129. to $169. a night. Double the cost of Priceline.