* Have a single goal in mind to avoid becoming distracted and wasting time. Go after a special Web-only fare to a specific destination, for example, or a hotel room in a place you plan to visit.
* Instead of trying to stay on top of lots of sites, choose just a few you like best and focus on them. Sign up for weekly e-mails from them if offered. But be careful, because these reports are sometimes lengthy and can clog up your e-mail box.
* Register at all the sites you favor, so you'll be ready to make a booking when you find what you want. Some sites will remember your user name and password; in other cases, you have to keep track of them yourself.
* Be ready to make a booking before you start looking for a fare. Make sure you can get the necessary time off from work and that the people you're planning to visit will be around when you want to make the trip; if you need a place to stay, you should check out hotel rates at your destination first, so you don't end up with a cheap air fare but a whopping room rate. If you put off this kind of planning until you've found a great fare, it may disappear by the time you make the rest of the arrangements for your trip.
* If you are pressed for time and don't enjoy surfing the Web, you may be better off calling the airline yourself, or even finding a good travel agent, who in some cases may be able to get you as good a deal.