BEVERLY HILLS, Calif. ( MainStreet) -- By mid-October many people find themselves desperately trying to shore up year-end and holiday travel plans. Others, who shall go unnamed, have long since booked their winter getaways and are most likely already planning for spring and summer travel.With the holiday season just around the corner, it may indeed be too late to score the early bird travel deals. But there are still a few sure-fire tips that can lessen the financial load and perhaps save a bundle on end-of-year travel:
|It may be too late to score early bird travel deals, but there are still ways to save on a holiday trip.|
Most people approach frequent-flier award bookings with an all-or-nothing attitude, trying to find only the round-trip award fares that become all but impossible during prime weekend travel in the holiday season. Unbeknownst to many, programs such as AAdvantage by American Airlines and United ( UAL) MileagePlus have allowed customers to book standard one-way and saver fares without being penalized in years past with higher redemption levels for one-way travel. The option allows travelers to mix and match frequent-flier programs without penalty, as well as to combine a one-way domestic award on an easier-to-find midweek departure with a paid return fare on airlines such as Virgin America, Southwest ( LUV) and JetBlue ( JBLU) that make one-way travelers pay extra. Consider less-expensive hot spots
For those considering a weeklong sojourn in St. Barts or ski weekend in Aspen, Colo., you'll likely be paying top dollar and perhaps even double on everything from car rental to hotel rooms from late December through the first week of January. If you're looking to cut financial corners this year, consider less-hyped nearby ski destination such as Breckenridge in Colorado or Lake Tahoe in California, which offer luxury properties on par with Aspen but with far better price tags and availability. As for the Caribbean, try Nevis and St. Kitts or perhaps Anguila for a good substitute for St. Barts with prices that are more like the St. Barts of a decade ago. Stay home for the actual holiday
Spending holidays away from home isn't always all it's cracked up to be. Christmas morning is often in an understaffed hotel where you paid far too much, room service is slow and rooms ooze a sterility that's far from festive. As for New Years' Eve, you're likely not going to be with the friends that make a celebration so fun and instead will likely spend at least part of the night in an overpriced restaurant of prix-fixe meals where the celebration feels forced. Travelers also often forget that if you're in a place such as Buenos Aires or Rio, cities can shut down during the holiday week with little shopping, closed museums and scaled-back sanitation services that mean a smelly city come Jan. 2.