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How to cut holiday travel costs

By Paula Pant ·
Monday, December 10, 2012
Posted: 7 am ET

Most people I know -- myself included -- have major travel plans this holiday season. Some are traveling by car and some by plane, but we're all facing the same dilemma: How can we cut travel costs?

The holiday season is one of the most expensive travel periods of the year. Here are a few tips for cutting holiday travel costs:

1. Pack snacks. Your flight has been delayed by five hours. You're hungry. What should you do?

Most people high-tail it for an airport bar or cocktail lounge, where they buy an $8 sandwich and a $2 piece of fruit. Here's an alternative: Carry snacks while you travel. Bring enough to tide you over during long delays.

Are you driving? The same advice applies. Snacking in the car will reduce the number of fast-food stops you're tempted to make. As a bonus, carry liquids when you drive.

2. Watch for parking fees. Airport parking is expensive. Search for alternatives. Some cities offer free or low-cost parking at bus terminals or subway depots. You can then ride the bus or train to the airport. You can also take a shuttle van to the airport, or ask a friend for a ride. (Just make sure you return the favor!)

Alternatively, some areas host private parking lots near the airport. These lots offer a free shuttle from your car to the airport door. They're also cheaper than parking at the airport.

If you're driving, watch for parking fees at hotels, which can add 20 percent to 30 percent to your room rate. Before you make a hotel reservation, call the front desk to inquire about parking rates.

3. Use common sense. Don't let your brain take a holiday during seasonal travel, or it could cost you money.

For example, airport security officials have the right to unwrap your presents for inspection. So make sure packed gifts are unwrapped gifts. It will save you the trouble and cost of wrapping everything twice.

If you're driving, you can wrap in advance; the chances of a police officer unwrapping your boxes are slim. Just remember not to speed, drive aggressively or get behind the wheel after drinking a few glasses of eggnog. Tickets are expensive.

Paula Pant blogs at about creating wealth and living life on your own terms. She's traveled to nearly 30 countries, owns five rental properties and owes her great life to strong money-management principles. Follow Paula on Twitter @AffordAnything.

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