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Winter Travel Tips

It’s that time of year again. Time to start planning your winter travels. Whether it’s home for Thanksgiving or a great Spring Break, here are some tips for traveling cheaply and smartly.

This year, more than any other year in recent memory, the number one way to save money is to book as early as possible. No matter where you’re trying to go and why, there are fewer flights to get you there. In the last year the major airlines have cut their service, in some cases, quite dramatically. When it comes to hot spots and peak seasons, gone are the days of half-full flights and last minute sales to fill empty seats.

It’s simple supply and demand and the longer you wait the more you’ll likely pay. Now is the time to book January or March travel. It’s not too early.

If it turns out you are trying to travel when everyone else is, flexibility can save you lots of money. Many peak days can be fairly easy to predict. The Wednesday before and the Sunday after Thanksgiving are historically the two busiest travel days of the year in the U.S. The further you get from those days the better the price (and the less hectic your travels) will be. Also, you won’t be alone if you’re trying to leave Boston between December 21st and 23rd and come back between the 3rd and 6th of January. It can help a lot if you’re willing to steer clear of these dates. And all winter long after that, when traveling to a warm destination, leaving on a Friday night or Saturday morning and returning on the following Saturday or Sunday can be costly. Consider something like a Sunday or Monday to the following Monday. Or if you want a shorter trip you could try something like a Monday to Friday. This can make a world of difference in price.

If you’re looking into a warm spring break, to save a little cash, consider a domestic destination like Florida or New Orleans. If you book early, a place like Miami Beach can be a cost effective option. The beaches and nightlife are about as renowned as it gets in the continental U.S. and should definitely help take the chill off. Also, a trip there can be as relaxed or crazy as you want it to be. New Orleans is another alternative. While it won’t be as warm as Miami, it will be warmer than Harvard Square and, of course, there’s plenty of fun to be had in the French Quarter. It’s just quirky enough to really feel like an international trip for the price of domestic.

If you do decide to go someplace warm for your spring break, whether you stay in the country or leave it, do some research and investigate your options. Sometimes it’s cheaper to piece together a trip by booking airfare and land options separately, and sometimes it’s much more cost effective to book it as a package. Which way is better can vary quite a bit depending on where and when you’re going. If it’s a destination you’re not really familiar with, a travel agent can be a big help since they have access to all your options and can quickly determine the best and cheapest way to go about it.

Finally, when planning your trip, never lose sight of value. You can have quality on a budget and that’s what separates a great vacation from just a cheap one.

October 28, 2002
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