10 Ways to Save on Holiday Travel

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10 Ways to Save on Holiday Travel
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Holiday travel should be a time of celebration and togetherness, but when the cost of visiting family and friends overshadows the joy of the season, consider some cost-cutting measures to keep your pocketbook and your mental state in shape. A few adjustments to your travel plans can save you hundreds of dollars this holiday season.

Timing Is Everything
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Timing Is Everything

When booking flights for holiday travel, it's always best to book at least 14 days in advance to get the best price. Mathias Friess of Webjet.com recommends purchasing flights on Wednesdays. "Historically, flights are cheaper on a Wednesday because throughout the beginning of the week, the airlines are competing to have the lowest fares," he said. "By Wednesday, they've hit their rock bottom and begin to increase prices again."

Flexibility With Flying
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Flexibility With Flying

It's important to keep your options open when traveling cross-country during peak times. Friess recommends researching alternative airports to save some cash during the holidays. "A lot of times, people will fly out of the airport closest to them, but you might be able to save hundreds by going to a different nearby airport," he said. "For example, instead of flying out of [the] San Francisco airport, you could fly out of San Jose or Sacramento."

Variable Travel Dates
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Variable Travel Dates

Flexibility with travel dates may also save you some cash during the holidays. Because many travelers are heading home on the Sunday after the big holiday, prices for these flights increase with demand. Alter your travel plans to return on a Monday or mid-week to get the best deals -- and a few more days with family and friends.

Couponing and Promo Codes
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Couponing and Promo Codes

Just as you would collect coupons for groceries, snatch those online promo codes and virtual coupons for savings on holiday flights. Jon Lal, founder of BeFrugal.com, suggests booking flights after browsing through a coupon and cash-back site. "Always look for a promo code for a discount on your travel needs," he said. A site such as BeFrugal.com can provide promotion codes that you can use on airline websites.

Package the Deal
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Package the Deal

Hotel, airfare and car rental combos are often cheaper when purchased as a package deal rather than buying each component separately. Travel websites often feature last-minute deals and daily specials to ensure your booking experience is a breeze during the holidays.

Affordable Accommodations
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Affordable Accommodations

If bunking with family is not an option, consider alternatives to pricey hotels at peak travel times. If the festivities are held in a large city, get the best hotel rate by staying on the outskirts of town at a smaller motel. Book in advance, and save by booking online with discount sites. Hotel prices also increase on the weekends, so consider planning your holiday travel during the week or negotiating a multiple-night-stay discount to shave down the budget.

Creative Lodging
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Creative Lodging

Imagine enjoying the comforts of home while traveling afar this holiday season. Make it a reality by participating in a home swap. Ask friends and family if they know of anyone who's traveling at the same time you are and if you might be able to rent that person's home during that time. You could also consider renting out your home while traveling to earn a bit of money this season. Online vacation-rental and home-swap sites allow you to search available choices while also listing your own home.

Car Rental Rewards
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Car Rental Rewards

If you're in need of a vehicle to get to your holiday destination, the loyalty rewards and savings from car rental companies may be a good fit, said Meghan Maguire of Alamo Rent A Car. "Most people think about signing up for frequent flyer airline and hotel programs, but having a good loyalty program for car rentals can make traveling easier." Loyalty members can get exclusive access to great deals and discounts year round, according to Maguire.

Win the Gas Price War
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Win the Gas Price War

No need to feel the pain at the pump when filling up for a drive this holiday season. Instead, save by signing up for gas rewards cards and utilizing apps such as AAA's Triptik to find the cheapest gas in your area. Get more bang for your buck by turning off the air conditioner and keeping your speed steady. Save even more by filling up before 10 a.m. on Thursdays. According to Forbes.com, most stations increase gas prices before the weekend.

Earn Cash Back
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Earn Cash Back

Give yourself the perfect gift during the holidays by earning cash back on your travel expenses. Many major credit cards offer cash-back rewards for purchases year-round. Stock pile these savings to spend more on your anticipated trip. Just be sure to pay off the credit card each month to avoid high interest rates and fees, said Lal.

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