Don't be tempted to buy too early. In 2008, when airfare prices seemed to rise on a daily basis, people bought airline tickets for Thanksgiving in the summer to lock in prices, then watched in horror as oil crashed and last minute holiday shoppers got incredible bargains. So shop early, but not too early: I expect airfare base price-points for June travel to drop by mid-March.
Do be flexible. I know, that's not always possible. That colleague I mentioned earlier was looking for flights to a graduation, but Purdue University declined to move its commencement ceremony for her convenience.
When flexibility is not an option, follow this trick and save: shop Tuesday afternoons to find the cheapest flights. My colleague originally looked at airfare on a weekend when flights from the West Coast to Indianapolis were $480 roundtrip. On Tuesday, those same flights were a hundred bucks cheaper. She promptly dinged her credit card.
If you can be flexible, even in little ways, you can save more. Ask yourself these questions:
Can you fly to Europe before school lets out in May or early June? Are you willing to fly domestic red-eyes and sacrifice sleep? Can you vacation in late August, early September or even after Labor Day? Are you OK with connecting flights? Can you travel for two weeks with just a carryon bag? Finally, can you pack up and go at a moment's notice?
If the answer to any or all of these questions is yes, set some airfare alerts and jump on any deals as they come your way, Just remember: don't wait for the same airfare prices you paid last year; this summer you will pay more. Simply look for the best of the "not-so-good deals".
Final bit of advice: don't kick yourself for missing out on a getaway vacation this year. Life really is too short.
This work is the opinion of the columnist and does not reflect the opinion of ABC News.
Rick Seaney is one of the country's leading experts on airfare, giving interviews and analysis to news organizations that include ABC News, The New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, Reuters, the Associated Press and Bloomberg. His website, FareCompare.com, offers consumers free, new-generation software, combined with expert insider tips to find the best airline ticket deals.