"Holiday travel" is a phrase that garners strong emotion.
It may evoke the best of the season: feelings of warmth and the anticipation of seeing family.
But there's a very real chance it will remind you of the journey, not the destination: the lines, the bad food (if any), the hours logged, and, worst of all, the prohibitive cost -- especially if you are making your plans at the last minute.
But last-minute travel doesn't necessarily have to break the bank.
If you only just found out that you can take the week of Christmas off (or if your Scrooge of a company pink-slipped you so close to the "most wonderful time of the year"), check out some of these fine Internet tools. Your trip may still prove painful to your pocket, but
these sites can help mitigate some of the cost and help you plan something special.
If you have some flexibility in terms of destination and dates, you might want to try Travelocity's last-minute travel section, or LastMinuteTravel.com. These sites are Web-based marketplaces for plane tickets from the major carriers, car rentals, and more.
The services will help you find packages for vacations lasting as long as four days, with start dates from time of inquiry through about two weeks later.
Mom's House or Bust
Often, the advice of Farecast is invaluable. While not guaranteed, Farecast uses historical data and other information to form an educated analysis of when the right time to buy your ticket is.
While Farecast's value truly shines through when you have time to plan ahead, even at the last minute it will be a big boon. For instance, even with a mere two weeks to go, my theoretical flight from LAX to Boston-Logan for the holidays promises the possibility of a $50 reduction per ticket if I wait. For a party of three, that'll add up.
In a 200-Horsepower Open Sleigh
If flights aren't your thing, or you're not going too far, there's always the thrill of the open road. But it's vacation -- jazz up your road trip by temporarily shelving your commuter car in favor of something special. Want to see what the hybrid fuss is all about, or try out some snazzy ride as a little present to yourself? You'll find cool cars to rent at agencies like Avis and Budget, and even at Toyota dealerships.
True, it's not exactly cheap to rent a car for a week, but for a family of three or more, it'll prove much more cost-effective than buying last-minute plane tickets
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