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Best Holiday Travel Tips: How To Find The Lowest Airfare & Hotel Rates

At Cyber Monday Central, you can purchase anything and everything without leaving your house and have it delivered to your door. But until Mr. Spock comes along and invents a teleporter, you still have to get on an airplane to visit family over the holidays.

Naturally, you can find great travel deals without changing out of your bathrobe. A plethora of online travel sites exists, all competing for your mouse clicks. Among the major sites are Priceline and Expedia. It's a good idea to check out more than one of these sites to find the best rates on airfare and hotels. Each site offers unique deals and special discounts, and one site might be better than another depending on the specifics of your holiday trip or vacation. The best way to find out which is to shop around at all of them to find the best deal for you!

The wobbly economy has tilted the cost of holiday travel in your favor. According to The Wall Street Journal's Bao Ong, the national average price for a roundtrip holiday airline ticket is down 20% over last year's rates.

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Everyone knows that buying a ticket early is the best way to find low rates. Airlines want to encourage advanced bookings, so making a reservation months in advance is a sure way to find a sweet deal.

But even if you didn't act early, you can still find a deal late. You may have fewer time and seat options, but the deals are still out there. The last thing any airline wants to do is take off with a lot of empty seats.

Booking stand-by seats is one way to get a good deal. You'll have to wait for someone else to cancel their ticket, but you can spend your long wait at the airport shopping for holiday gifts at Cyber Monday Central!

Another trick savvy travelers know about is to book your flight on off days. Again, the airlines are trying to fill seats on days when most people are not flying. A recent flight departing from Chicago to San Diego on Wednesday, November 25 and returning on Sunday, November 29 costs $383. But that same trip costs $284 if you leave on Tuesday and return on Saturday. That extra $99 could go toward Aunt Shirley's awesome holiday gift!

A great inside tip to remember is that airlines release their discount fares on Tuesday mornings. So Tuesday is the best day of the week to find low fares.

Also consider booking hotel rooms and airline tickets together. Like the airlines, hotels want to fill up empty rooms. Often, you can save on both expenses when paying for them together.

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Most people travel to visit relatives during the holidays. But if you're looking for a vacation from the norm, you should consider choosing a destination that is not a hotspot. For instance, everyone wants to go to Las Vegas, which is why plane tickets and hotel rates in Vegas are among the highest in the country. But fares to San Diego are much cheaper, not because there's nothing to do there but because many people don't think of that fair city as a hot vacation spot, especially in winter.

So while you may not have a choice about where to go to visit relatives, you can choose interesting vacation destinations that are off the beaten track and save a lot of money. Christmas in Portland, Oregon, is highly underrated!

But many experts are warning that the recent low fares being offered by the airlines may be coming to an end as the economy begins to rebound. So you might consider booking your summer vacation now instead of in the spring, when rates are expected to go back up.

Be aware also that sometimes a fare will go down as the departure date nears, again to encourage capacity. So it's a good idea to check back with your hotel or airline as your departure date nears. You may be entitled to the lower rate. It never hurts to ask!

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