5 Cash Saving Tips for Booking Last Minute Holiday Travel

5 Cash Saving Tips for Booking Last Minute Holiday Travel
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The holidays are my favorite time of the year.  You get to spend time with family, eat a lot of amazing food and if you're lucky you get a couple days off from work.  The holidays are also a great time to pack up the family and head out of town, but it can be expensive if you don't plan accordingly.

You could head to the ski slopes in Colorado or maybe lounge on the beach in Florida.  If you are looking for something a little different then the possibilities are endless.  Before you plan that last-minute holiday trip make sure you follow these tips to help save some money.

Be open to new places

Emeishan Buddhist Temple, Sichuan Province, China (Flickr / Cory M. Greiner)

Emeishan Buddhist Temple, Sichuan Province, China (Flickr / Cory M. Greiner)

While you might have a bucket list of travel destinations that you would love to visit, the holidays might not be the best time to go to some of these.  Make your plans based on where the best deals are.  One website that I love for travel is Travelzoo.com.  Each week they compile the best travel deals all over the world.  Maybe you want to take a European Vacation or possibly visit a Buddhist temple in Asia, maybe it's just a getaway to New Orleans.  Travelzoo will show you the best deals available at any given time.

Don't be tied to one rewards program

My favorite rewards credit cards are not tied to specific brands.  They are instead part of larger networks.  The Chase Sapphire Preferred card will allow you to use your rewards on a number of different hotels and airlines in the Ultimate Reward program. That gives you many more options for travel during peak times of the year.  By having so many different choices you know you won't just be throwing away reward points.

Be willing to change your travel day

Flickr / Janine and Jim Eden

Flickr / Janine and Jim Eden

For Christmas the big travel days are December 23 and 24.  That means these days are going to much more expensive and have less open seats. I did a search on Google Flight Search and found that a flight from Denver to Chicago on December 23 returning on December 28 would cost $621.  By changing up my days and traveling from December 25 to December 31 the cost would have been only $295.  That is a savings of over $300.

The same idea also goes for redeeming airline miles for your trip.   There will be more available reward seats on off-peak days than if you are wanting to travel at the same day as everyone else.  If you are not against flying on Christmas day then this will always be your cheapest option.

Be open to different airports

If you live in a city that has multiple airports then don't be too tied to just one.  Always check out all the options available.  Let's say you live in Chicago.  You not only have Chicago O'Hare and Chicago Midway to choose from, but Milwaukee is only a short two hour drive away.

To make this worth it you would need to make sure that the cost to drive to Milwaukee is less than the savings you would receive from not flying out of Chicago.

Travel when it's dark

Flickr / Moto "Club4AG" Miwa

Flickr / Moto "Club4AG" Miwa

If you are anything like me the thought of being at the airport at 4am isn't all that appealing.  However, if you are looking to save money and avoid the crowds then this might be the best option for you.  Early morning and late night flights tend to be the least expensive.  They also usually have the most available seats which is great if you have a larger family.

Wrapping it up

Trying to book a last minute trip around the holidays can be a tricky task.  By using a few of these tips you will be able to not only find open flights, but also save a little money.