Travelin' Mom and I became more sensitive to airline ticket prices once we had to purchase a ticket for Travelin' Junior, which basically increased our flying costs by by 50%. So, we were happy to discover farecast.com. Farecast.com has been winning accolades for well over a year now, from Time Magazine's 50 Coolest Websites list to the Web 2.0 award for best travel site. Basically, farecast gives you an informed prediction (based on statistics they've collected) as to whether the fare for a particular flight will go up or down in the next seven days. Most of us play the fare prediction game every time we book travel, and it sure is nice to have a little help now. Put another way, if you had a website that told you which way the stock market was going next, you'd be logging on, wouldn't you? Well, farecast may not handle stocks, but it might save you a little extra dough to cover your investment losses.
More specifically, along with an impressive array of data (check the site out yourself to see all the bells and whistles), farecast will give you a bottom-line tip as to whether to wait on a fair or purchase it now. In case you think they're flipping a coin to decide, farecast also gives you a rating (1 to 100%) as to how confident the site is in its prediction. You'll also see how the current low fare compares to the historical low fare for the past 90 days. All good stuff.
And now, as if farecast already wasn't going to win some type of travel Nobel prize (what? that doesn't exist?), the site added another great feature. This feature, still in "beta" testing format, will allow you to better evaluate hotel rates. Just put in your desired city and the dates of your stay and Farecast will create a list of available hotels, color coded to tell you if you're getting a "deal" rate, "average" rate, or "not a deal." (the polite way of saying "gouged.") You can also narrow your search by number of stars, hotel amenities, hotel brand, location, etc. This hotel search tool is especially handy because, while you may have an idea what airfare rates usually cost from your home airport to various destination, you probably haven't spent much time following the ebbs and flows of hotel prices in various cities. If you have, it's time to seriously think about finding a hobby.
All that being said, farecast isn't perfect. Farecast doesn't cover every airport or hotel city (it currently handles 75 home airports for flights and 30 destination cities for hotels.) Also, it seems the airfare and hotel tools only predict out about 90 days, when many of us shop earlier than that to earn the best fares/rates. And, although I haven't seen any type of disclaimer on the website, I've got to imagine that, like in the stock market, past performance is no guarantee of future results. But, it's a helluva lot more information than we'd be armed with otherwise.