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TheStreet Open House

10 Tips for Saving on Holiday Travel Right Now

NEW YORK ( TheStreet) -- Nearly 60% of holiday travelers surveyed by ShopatHome.com said they were waiting to book because they are afraid they will miss out on deals, and only 11% were booking now to lock in their plans.

That 58% who were waiting are taking a bit of a gamble, while those booking now have a number of ways to save. We've put together a list of some of the best travel tips by the experts to help you put more cash into your pocket this holiday season:

1. Don't delay: Experts agree booking airfare now will help you save. "Airfare has increased substantially, and will continue to increase as we approach the busy holiday travel periods," says Omar Ghumrawi, director at PremierAwardsBookings.com. "The more one delays, the higher the risk of a combination of a substantial increase in ticket prices and/or travelers forced to sub-optimal routings to keep costs reasonable."


2. Join up: Jon Lal, frequent traveler and founder of 
BeFrugal.com, says taking advantage of loyalty and membership programs is one of his No. 1 tips. "These programs helps you take advantage of points for perks," he says.

3. Look for website promo codes: Most of us know by now that many airlines now charge for booking over the phone rather than online. Lal says you should go a step further: "Always look for a promo code for a discount on your travel needs. Earn cash back for free by clicking through a cash back shopping website to the travel company like an airline or hotel you are booking with." Remember that airlines are not the only ones to offer discounts online. If you're taking a ski vacation, there could be coupons and extra savings online, says Rebecca Steffan, senior public relations manager for the Adirondack Regional Tourism Council.

4. Act your age: You may not feel like you're a "senior citizen," but some travel companies and websites give discounts to "seniors" as young as 50. If you're unsure if you can get a discount, Lal says, "It never hurts to ask."

5. Get the timing right: Know when the best booking times are, as well as the best times to fly to get a discount. "Many airlines compete with each other to have the lowest prices for their flights. Knowing when those ticket prices are the cheapest is a great way to save money," says Mathias Friess, CEO of webjet.com. "Typically, Wednesday afternoons is the best time to buy flights. Many airlines will lower their prices until they cannot any longer and then begin increasing them again." Some travel experts say booking in the early morning is a good time. "Airlines update their revenue management systems overnight and often will release limited inventory of lower-priced seats after reviewing booking patterns," says Mark Drusch, chief supplier relations officer of OneTravel.com. One thing the experts do agree on: If you fly on the holiday itself, it is typically cheaper. "Christmas Day is often the beginning of low season for some destinations, but Christmas Eve is still peak season," says Peggy Goldman, travel expert for FriendlyPlanet.com.

6. Don't rely on a single site: When checking booking sites, make sure you check a few to get the best deals, especially if you will be traveling out of the country. "For international flights, check both the airline you want to fly and any U.S.-based codeshare airline," says Carol Margolis at SmartWomenTravelers.com. For example, when flying from Orlando to Paris, check Air France and Delta. "You'll be booked on the same flight, but one airline may offer a much less fare."


7. House swap: "You stay in my house, and I stay in yours -- that sums it up!" says Tracy Rubin, who works with Homeexchange.com. You pay a $120 annual membership fee, which Rubin points out is less than a one night stay in most hotels, and list your house. This may be good if you plan on traveling a lot, but it's not for everyone.

8. Sign up: "Sign up for email news from travel suppliers you like so you're the first to know of any holiday specials," says Peter Grubb, founder of ROW Adventures. He also advises if you're going on an adventure tour or outfitted trip, book that before your airline ticket. "Many people do it backwards and can't find the trip to fit their flight."

9. Get gift cards for yourself: Andrea Woroch, a consumer savings expert, says to look for discount gift cards. Sites such as GiftCardGranny.com sell gift cards for flights, hotels and more for less than face value. "While you are shopping around, pick up a few for restaurants and movie theaters to save on those favorite family nights out during the holidays," Woroch says.

10. Look for price matching: Just like in the grocery store, some sites will price match if you find a better deal in a certain amount of time. Jeff Pecor, founder of Tailwind PR, says that some sites, including PayPal, will price match -- even on some airline tickets -- if lower prices are advertised.

Kerri Fivecoat-Campbell is an Arkansas-based journalist who writes for TheStreet and MainStreet on personal finance, small business and leisure/travel issues.

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