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Winter travel deals

Sommer Caraway is a freelance writer and public relations specialist based in Arizona. Follow her updates on Twitter @sommerPR or check out her blog at SommerCaraway.com.

Budget-friendly winter travel

Whether you long for a winter wonderland or fun in the sun, here's how to find the best winter travel deals around the world!

Costa Rican Volcano

Destinations offering winter travel deals

Costa Rica

Costa Rica has only two seasons: The dry season from late November to mid April, and the rainy season –- with moderate temperatures year-round. Embody the Ticos' life motto, "Pura Vida," meaning relax and enjoy life by basking in the sun at a beach in Puntarenas, or visit Cartago to hike a volcano and soak in a natural hot spring.

Monteverde offers hiking in the rainforest, zip lining and a birds-eye view of it all on the Sky Walk. Keep your eyes peeled in Limon, a port city boasting acres of banana plantations. With airfare as low as $300, Costa Rica is a perfect winter escape.

New Zealand

Visit Auckland, New Zealand, to enjoy average temperatures in the low 70s, see glowworms and stalactites in the Waitomo Caves and marvel at geysers in Rotorua. Other activities include sailing, bungee jumping off the Auckland Harbour Bridge and going on a whale and dolphin safari cruise. Known for its beautiful landscape and adventurous opportunities, New Zealand is sure to be a fun-filled vacation spot.

Winter in PraugeGermany and Czech Republic

Don't mind the cold? Visit Europe in the winter for a beautifully unique experience. With flight deals as low as half the cost of summer expeditions, check out the Berlin International Film Festival -- the Berlinale -- showing up to 400 films February 11 to 21.

Get ideas for experiencing the rich arts history from the Prague Winter Festival program and visit places like the Black Light Theatre or sign up for a unique Thai massage. Book an economy five-hour train ride from Prague to Berlin for $116 from Rail Europe or find other rail discounts. Depart before 10 am in the winter to ensure you arrive before dark.

Resources and tips for getting the best price when traveling

Follow travel companies on Twitter

Twitter keeps you up to date on everything else -- why not travel deals? Check out Contiki Vacations (@Contiki_US) to find great deals to 40 countries for 18- to 35-year-olds. Follow @SmarterTravel and @Kayak for travel news and airline deals, @ABCNewsTravel for news and events in destination cities, and @Costco_Travel for members-only value deals.

Search for online coupons

Use your favorite search engine to find online discount travel coupons. Retailmenot.com and CouponCraze.com offer online coupon codes for resorts, rental car companies and websites like Orbitz and Expedia. Copy the special code and save money!

Compare prices at once

Kayak.com allows you to easily compare airline ticket prices of top sites like Hotwire and Priceline in separate windows. After selecting the cheapest airline, visit the website to find other offers, or an even more discounted airfare. Track prices daily, as fares may fluctuate.

Book with your friends

Request a group rate for traveling with friends or family members. Some companies will reduce the price for as few as five people traveling together.

Call for special discounts

If you're booking your trip through a travel agency, give them a call. Ask for military discounts, or inquire about ways to reduce the prepackaged cost by reserving a less expensive hotel room, eliminating an excursion, or arriving a day earlier. Share your budget with the travel agent to get the best possible price.

Sign up for weekly e-updates

Create a separate Internet email account just for receiving weekly updates. Sign up for the New York Times' 20 Travel Discounts or US Airways' e-Saver.

Be prepared

Travel deals may appear anytime. Make sure you have a valid passport so you can take adavantage of the deals without racking up extra fees.

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