How To Find Amazing Holiday Vacation Travel Bargains

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A Little Last Minute Travel Planning Can Get Great Results 

Is it too late to book somewhere for Christmas and New Years?

Not if you’re willing to pay whatever the cost; but what if you’re looking for a (relative) deal.

Start by flying somewhere with a lot of airline competition, and be willing to fly from anywhere that’s cheapish.

A good place to start: Type in NYC, for example, in the “from” box, enter your travel dates (leaving Dec. 23, for instance, returning Sunday Dec. 27).

Using this method, we found, for instance, New York to Nassau, Bahamas for $319 RT nonstop on JetBlue. Anyone who flies this route often knows that a fare in the low $300s is just a bit more than the trip costs during non-peak seasons.

You Have To Think Outside Of Santa's Wrapped Christmas Box

And be able to tell a holiday bargain from a non-bargain. Case in point: searching in late November we found Los Angeles to Maui nonstop on American for $648 round-trip with tax leaving Dec. 22 returning Dec. 31. If that sounds pricey, it’s not, at least not for peak Christmas. Non-holiday fares range from $500 to $600. Fares to Honolulu on American on the same dates were $120 more.

So airfare deals do exist if you use the right tools and are flexible on both your origin airport and your destination.

Learn To Use Some Free Travel Tools 

Tools such as JetBlue’s “Best Fare Finder” and Southwest’s “Map Search” and “Low Fare Finder” are also useful. Using the Map Search we found Philly to West Palm Beach leaving Dec. 23 returning Dec. 30 for $277 round-trip on Southwest, a decided bargain for a winter escape at that time of year.

Atlhough it doesn’t include fares on Southwest, remains the best airfare aggregator, using its flexible dates option (you must sign in with your email address to use its full functionality).

Packages can also save money, especially the more expensive they are, compared to buying air and hotel separately.

But as we’ve noted before, the best bargains for last minute travel this holiday season may be a cruise. In late November, we found a 7-day round-trip from New York to Florida and the Bahamas, leaving Dec. 20 returning Dec. 27 on Norwegian Cruise Line’s Breakaway for $1,080 per person including taxes in an ocean view cabin. No hotel charges, meals are included, and no flying required.

This article was previously published by George Hobica New York Post - December 1st, 2015