The little-known secrets of cheap holiday travel--without airplanes


Airlines are the squeaky wheel of the travel industry, and they get a lot of grease in the media, so by now we all know how to navigate ticket buying. But baggage fees are on the rise and airfares are an uncertain game of roulette, so many of us are choosing to go to Grandmother's house by land instead. Going over the river and through the woods isn't such a bad way to do it, either, because there are some sterling savings opportunities if you go by wheel instead of wing, as points out in an article today.

Here's my take on some of Lyneka Little's suggestions:

ONLINE DISCOUNTS: Some suggestions are obvious to those of us who have been using a computer for more than a few months. Those include always checking the websites of your chosen carrier (Amtrak, Greyhound, and so on) to see if its online prices beat the ticket office. Don't stampede straight to the reservations search boxes, either, because most sites have a marked page of specials that shouldn't be ignored.

Make sure you milk every discount you can. I know plenty of people in their early 50s who squirm at their AARP eligibility, but when they realize that they can use that status to save some bucks, suddenly the card is waved with pride. Even young whippersnappers might have AAA membership, and that can bring some surprising deals (although it's a motoring organization, Amtrak will cut rates for it). Check your local AAA branch for a list of discount opportunities. Often, these price cuts will work even during the holiday rush, including at hotels.