Jody Halsted is no rookie when it comes to traveling.
“We’ve been to Florida, Arkansas, Arizona,” said Jody Halsted, a freelance travel writer from Ankeny and mother of two.
On this day, she`s planning a spring break flight to Dallas, Texas.
It’s a destination she says is perfect for young families.
“They have a Legoland, they have an aquarium, and a great mall,” said Halsted.
The Halsted`s aren`t leaving for another month, but Jody has agreed to share her secrets, starting with booking.
Many travelers will head straight to sites like Expedia and Travelocity, but one site will save you a few clicks.
“I usually start with if I`m just looking for flights, Kayak.com,” Halsted said.
Type in where you want to go, and Kayak.com will pull up deals offered by all the major travel sites.
You can even find fares to multiple cities.
“Let`s say you want to fly from Des Moines to Dallas to visit family, and then want to take a quick trip to southern California. You can look at it that way,” said Halsted.
There are also sites that will send the deals to you.
On Airfare Watchdog and Google Alerts, you can request daily or weekly emails finding you the best deals from your airport of choice.
“Set it and forget it and it will come to you with airfares that you`re looking for,” Halsted told Channel 13 News.
Still looking for a place to go? Type in fares out of your airport of choice and it will find you the cheapest destination.
“It will come back to you with that search term and show you every time something hits,” said Halsted.
Knowing where to travel from can also keep some money in your pocket.
“There are some markets where you might find cheaper deals, but is it worthwhile to drive,” said Donald Smithey, the Executive Director of Des Moines International Airport.
Des Moines International Airport is conveniently located and you won`t spend much time in line.
Smithey even believes fares are becoming more competitive.
“Our traffic is increasing while others are not,” said Smithey.
So Halsted compared Des Moines to one of its closest neighbors in Kansas City.
In this case, the money she will save is worth the drive.
“$492 versus $247. That`s $250 for each air-line ticket,” Halsted said.
Some travelers have no choice as getting to the nearest airport requires a road trip.
John Runchey is from Cedar Falls, and stayed at the Holiday Inn across from Des Moines International Airport the night before a 6 a.m. flight.
His stay cost him about $100 dollars, but he`ll make that up taking advantage of the hotel`s “park and stay” option.
“We have told other friends about it and we certainly do recommend it,” said Runchey.
Long-term parking at Des Moines International Airport costs $12 dollars per day and the Keck lot across the street costs $6.
“I use it for the convenience and the cost,” Halsted told Channel 13 News.
If you`re going to be out of town for a while, one night at a park and stay hotel allows you to leave your car for up to two weeks.
That $100 hotel stay can end up being a wash thanks to savings on parking.
At the airport, many travelers open their wallets again.
“Unless you`re an elite flyer, you`re paying for your checked bags,” said Halsted.
In 2012, Americans spent $6 billion dollars on baggage, cancellation, and change fees.
It pays to pack more efficiently.
“Luggage cubes or space bags. I`ve got a week`s worth of clothes in two of these days,” said Halsted.
This set on Walmart.com costs just $25 dollars and fits into a carry-on.
“You can pack, you can condense, you can push, you can smoosh,” Halsted said.
Here’s a carry-on you can wear that doesn`t count against you at security.
‘It`s a jacket, you`re wearing it,” said Halsted.
Scottevest.com sells travels jackets with twenty pockets for your tablet, pass-port, or whatever you can fit in it.
“You get to the checkpoint, you take it off, and put it in the bag,” said Halsted.
They`ll cost you $75 dollars for a windbreaker and $160 dollars for a fleece.
However, if you`re a frequent traveler, the jacket could pay for it-self.
A family vacation can create memories that last a life-time.
Doing a little homework can save you money, time, and help you remember your vacation for the right reasons.
“It just gives you a chance to explore and bond as a family,” said Halsted.
Find out how much each airline is charging in baggage and carry on fees here.
Will your carry-on fit or will you have to check it? Take a look at this site.
Curious about what items you can carry-on? Check out this TSA guide.
Looking for some travel cubes for your carry-on item.
A great place to find yourself a travel vest.