NEW YORK (CBS 2) — Summer is here and for many, that means family travel.

If you haven’t,┬áhere are some things you should know from travel expert Mark Murphy:

Leave In A Flash

Everyone should sign up for the last-minute email alerts that the airlines provide. They use these to fill seats that have been left unsold and that will literally perish if not filled. They use something called yield management and offer many different price points on the same flight to spur someone to book. You might find a great deal as long as you are flexible as to where you are going as the most popular routes and destinations seldom see these kinds of last-minute deals.

Family Of Three Or More

Call a travel professional. When you are traveling with a group, even your own family, they will be an invaluable resource in terms of information and time-savings. A good travel pro will ask you questions to understand the profile of your family and the individual needs of each traveler. Based on that information and the specific goals of the trip they will make recommendations to match you with the best experience.

Your first part of savings will be time, uncertainty and stress. The second part in the savings equation comes down to their access to special deals and promotions that might not be available to the general public. Many people mistakenly believe that using an agent costs more. That’s incorrect. The price for a cruise is the same whether you book it directly with the cruise line or the travel agent. Since travel agents sell more than 70% of cruises they sometimes have access to special group deals and value added opportunities you can’t get on your own.

Multi-Destination Voyage

Go online and check out the tour operators and river cruise lines directly that can take you from one place to the next along an organized itinerary. You’ll find that many of the packages offered by brands like Globus and Cosmos or Trafalgar Tours have plenty of inclusions that cover everything from air, transfers, entrance fees to museums, guided tours, meals and more. You’ll find similar inclusions with river cruise operators as well. Both are great values and great ways to explore a wide variety of landscapes.

Cancellation Policy

If you’re talking an airline ticket your best bet is to speak directly to the airline before you book and understand the limitations of the various ticket options. There are so many different fare options you’d be shocked. For instance, I recently traveled to Jamaica and looked at a coach fare that was one-way, and non refundable, for $600. By upgrading that fare to $860 I was able to guarantee a first class seat plus have the flexibility of changing the ticket without a penalty or additional fees. Flexibility is especially important in this regard.

Another thing to do is take the insurance that’s offered on the airlines site or on aggregators like Orbitz. You can have peace of mind should things change. Make sure the insurance covers cancel for any reason as some are very onerous and hard to make good on. The devil is in the details.

Using Miles

Look to aggregate all of your miles in one place. For instance, I try to travel on airlines that are affiliated with something known as the Star Alliance which includes US Airways out of Philadelphia as well as Continental and United Airlines (which are in the process of merging). I take my American Express miles that I earn on every purchase and transfer them to my particular airline account for use in travel and upgrades. The value of the miles is on a ratio of $1,000 for every 100,000 miles, in my book. When I can use these miles at that ratio, and its less than the hard cost of a particular ticket or an upgrade, I use them. When the out-of-pocket cost for the ticket is less than the value of the miles, I buy the ticket or pay for the upgrade or higher priced seat.