There’s no place like home for the holidays, but many may assume they are out of luck when it comes to finding a holiday travel bargain. While it’s true that booking early usually secures the best holiday fares and schedules, there are still a few remaining deals to be found for the persistent bargain-hunter. I recently consulted AAA travel pros for a few tips for those seeking last-minute holiday travel deals:
• Book now. There are still some good airfares out there, but you have to act fast, and if you see a good airfare, grab it. Fares are likely to only increase as the holidays creep closer.
• Be flexible. Flexibility is the key to getting the best deal for any travel plans, but rings even more true during the busy holiday season. Consider traveling on the holiday itself instead of the day before. If you plan it just right, you can still arrive on time for Thanksgiving or Christmas dinner and pay a lot less than those who opted to fly with everyone else the day before. Also, consider returning a day earlier or later than the usual crowds, as well as flight schedules that are less-desired, like red-eyes. As an added gift, you’ll have fewer crowds and shorter security lines to deal with.
• Compare airports. Regional airports often offer a variety of benefits, from fewer crowds, shorter security lines and easier parking compared to major hubs.
• Factor in fees. Like it or not, fees are here to stay. Most airlines are charging $20 or more per checked luggage each way. Factor this into your overall trip price in order to compare overall costs. An airline with a slightly higher fare may end up being the most economical option compared to another airline when you factor in these fees. Check to see if you have any affiliations that may waive these fees; some airline credit cards and other premium credit cards offer this as a benefit.
• Enlist the help of a travel pro. Save yourself the time and stress and let a travel pro do the research, comparison shopping and planning for you. In addition, if anything on your trip goes awry, you can enlist the help of your travel pro to get everything back on track.
• Linda Gorman is communications and public affairs director for AAA Arizona. Reach her at (602) 650-2716 or firstname.lastname@example.org.