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Creative Planning Saves Money on Holiday Travel

Above: Ski resorts could be an affordable option this winter, according to Carl Winston, Director of SDSU's School of Hospitality and Tourism Management

The holidays are here, a time for last-minute travel plans and lavish meals with loved ones. All the celebrating can lead to a thicker waistline... and a thinner wallet. A recent survey expects a $349 increase per person in holiday spending ($1,203 in 2010, up from $854 in 2009).

Carl Winston, Director of San Diego State University's School of Hospitality and Tourism Management, said budget-minded San Diegans could save money this winter with a few simple steps.

Scour Discount Travel Websites For Good Deals.

Websites such as Expedia and Travelocity can offer better deals on flights, hotels and rental cars because they buy from companies in bulk, Winston said.

Look For Less-Crowded Destinations.

While many travelers are visiting family or friends for the holidays, some are choosing vacation destinations. For these travelers, Winston said to save popular destinations like Hawai’i or Disneyland for the off-season. During the holidays, places like Cancun, Puerto Vallarta and even Las Vegas are less crowded.

“I did Cancun,” said Winston, “and it was just phenomenal. It was really kind of empty. I felt like I had the town to myself.”

Winston also said ski resorts could be an affordable option. The ski industry is trying to recover from three consecutive years of “serious hurt.”

“You’re able to find deals, particularly at some of the second-tier ski resorts,” Winston said. “It’s probably time to return to the slopes.”

Gather ‘round the lunch table.

“We tend to build the big meal around dinner,” said Winston. “Dinner is just more expensive.”

Dining out can be one of the biggest expenses when traveling. Winston said that diners may forego the glass of wine with dinner in an effort to save money. But most lunch menus are cheaper, said Winston, leaving some extra cash for drinks or desserts.

“Travelers who spend more at lunch and go a little cheaper for their dinner get a lot more value out of their travel dollar.”

Yelp

Travelers can learn where the locals eat and avoid lousy hotels by using consumer review sites like Yelp, said Winston.

“You’re going to learn where the best deals are."

Finally, Plan Ahead.

Unfortunately, some discounts only apply for off-season traveling, said Winston. Nothing beats the holiday price hikes better than early planning.

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