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Winter holiday booking for air travel and hotels on the cheap

The holiday season is upon us, and you probably aren't too excited for all the traveling you're soon to embark on.

But the worst part isn't the endless driving, flying, checking in and out of hotels, and the exhaustion that comes with it. The worst part is the amount of money you have to spend to accomplish it.

Fortunately, there are ways around going broke from holiday travel. Check out this helpful guide on how to save money on travel to learn more!

1. Do Your Research

This might be your first time or your fiftieth time traveling to see your family and friends, but you can still learn something new by studying up on your options.

If all you do is a cursory Google search to find flights and hotel rooms, you'll end up traveling the way they want you to travel. The best alternative is to scour the Internet for deals and find out what others around you have done to get to their holiday destinations on time and on budget.

2. Book Ahead of Time

Sometimes it simply can't be helped -- you procrastinated on buying the tickets or reserving a room, and now you've no choice but to fork over an arm and a leg to see your family for the holiday.

If you need a flight or a hotel room in the nights leading up to a major holiday, you had better have it reserved a month or more in advance. Otherwise, you'll end up paying some seriously exorbitant rates.

3. Stay With Family or Friends

If you're fortunate enough to find your family or friends have a spare bedroom (or even extra couch space), stake your claim ASAP.

Sure, it may not be the most ideal of sleeping arrangements. But crashing at someone else's house is always easier on the wallet than spending holiday fees for hotel rooms.

4. Avoid the Unnecessary

Traveling is stressful as is so if you can avoid it, go as simple as possible. You don't need every piece of clothing and bathroom accessory you have, and you don't always have to transport your pets with you.

Instead, go as lightly as possible. You'll probably save money on gas from the lack of added weight!

And as for air travel, everyone likes the idea of flying first class, picking their seats, and priority boarding. But if you need to save money this holiday season, find the cheapest seats on the cheapest possible airline, and forget the frills.

5. Find Alternatives

While the average traveler either drives or flies from place to place during the holidays, you should remember you have other options.

Many travelers take long-distance buses or even ride Amtrak trains. And if you're exceptionally lucky, you might even know someone already heading the direction you need to go.

Plus, if you don't take your own vehicle to your destination, you won't spend any money on extra gasoline for driving around the area.

6. Strategize Your Meals

One of the biggest expenses already during any holiday is food. But when you also have to travel a great distance, you'll be spending loads of money stopping to fill up.

Instead of wasting your money at gas stations and fast food joints, plan your meals ahead. Pack sandwiches and snacks, bottled water, trail mix, and anything else you can cram into a small cooler or backpack.

Even if you reach your destination a little on the hungry side, you're likely soon to encounter no shortage of delectable holiday delights.

7. Stay Flexible

Some people like to create a strict itinerary and stick to it, regardless of what happens. But as you well know, the holidays are the most hectic time of the year.

So if you stay open to suggestions and constantly look for any option you can find to save money this season, you might get through the holidays with your finances in one piece.

8. Avoid Busy Travel Days

While you may need to be somewhere on a certain date, if you have the flexibility, try to avoid traveling during the week of Christmas or New Year's. More people travel during these weeks, and the higher demand drives up prices for tickets. To save money on holiday travel, arrive at your destination early or leave late. Ask about telecommuting options for your job to make your dates more flexible. If you can work at the place you travel to, you may find it's the most economical choice. 

9. Incorporate Travel Plans Into Your Family Gift

Instead of paying for your family to go on a holiday getaway and shelling out money for gifts, budget for the holidays by turning your vacation into a present. Agree beforehand that your trip together and family time also will serve as a way to show you love each other. You can reduce your overall holiday costs by taking this approach. 

10. Use Rewards to Pay for Trips

Do you have a credit card that offers points for purchases? Redeem those points to pay for your airline tickets. Or cash in your frequent flyer miles on your holiday trip. While some restrictions may apply during busy travel times, you can probably find a way to employ your rewards toward travel. 

Also, consider which credit card to use to book the trip. Some offer double points on travel, which will benefit you for future holiday trips. Look into other credit card offers if yours doesn't have a points system. 

11. Book Through a Discount Site

One of our favorite ways to save money on holiday travel is to do some comparison shopping. Discount websites can help you find fares, hotels and car rentals for lower prices than you might pay booking through a business's homepage. Price out your trip through each company's website and see if you can find a better price through the discount site. 

12. Use a Fare Tracking App

If you plan to travel by plane to your destination or stay in a hotel, sign up for a fare tracking app that will alert you when the airlines or hotels drop their prices. You also can avoid purchasing a ticket or room when prices increase by following the prices on the app. 

One of the many options to help you afford your holiday travel is a fast and affordable personal loan from Atlas Credit. Forget freaking out about last-minute flight fares -- by qualifying for a personal loan online or in person, you can pay for them with a promise of peace of mind. Apply online or visit our locations in Oklahoma and Texas.

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