Economy Won't Keep Holiday Travelers Home

inflex, flickr

Americans will be pinching their pennies this holiday season, but plan to go ahead with travel plans despite the state of the economy.

According to an AOL Travel survey, 39.6% of travelers said the economy is "somewhat" affecting their plans, while only 17.6% believe the economy affected them "very much."

The survey also found:
· 54.5% of travelers will be cutting back on expensive activities due to the economy.
· 28.5% cited cost as the most stressful part of holiday air travel, and 23.9% indicated delays were the most stressful aspect of flying.
· 82.8% of travelers will be using cars to get to their destination this year.
· Almost 30% of travelers will be shortening the length of their travel or staying with family and friends to reduce expenses.

Are you trying to take the stress and expense out of your holiday travels? Follow these tips to help make your trip as easy as (pumpkin) pie.

How to thwart delays:

Get a map of the airport: Making multiple stops? Visit the website of the airport where you will be changing planes and print out a map of the terminal. When faced with minimal to get from one concourse to the next, you will find a map really comes in handy.

Check historical on-time ratings: The uncertainty of flight delays can be nerve-wracking. Will you make that 40 minute layover... or will you be stuck in Newark for half the day? Sites like offer historical on-time performance for most routes. Punch in your flight info, and you'll be rewarded with average delays and details on past performance.

Fly early: The early bird gets the worm, or at least a smaller chance of delays. Fly way early in the morning to avoid delays or cancellations and especially those snaking lines at security – better yet, redeye it the night before.

Cut down on airport stress:

Search nearby airports: Flying into Los Angeles? Make sure you check Long Beach (LGB,) Santa Ana (SNA) and Ontario (ONT) as well. Explore all of your options, including smaller airports where crowds will be thinner and prices can be cheaper.

Know your baggage allowance: Chances are if you're checking bags you'll need to pony up some cash at the ticket counter. Check your airline's website to see what your quotas are, and if necessary, combine your bags into one checked or even one carry-on bag. At the very worst, make sure you have twenty bucks in your wallet before you show up at the airport.

Plan your route: Layovers are an opportunity for disaster. It might be nice in Tucson, but once you land in Chicago on your way to Charlotte, the snowstorm of this millennium may hit the city and you could be stuck for days. So if you absolutely have to take a layover, try to make it in Atlanta instead of Minneapolis.

How to keep it in budget:

Pick a hotel with a kitchen: Try to find an affordable place with a kitchenette, or, at the very least, a mini fridge. You can save a lot of money by making a simple lunch with what you pick up at the supermarket instead of buying a $15 salad at a sit-down restaurant.

Do your research: Before leaving, look up your destination online and order tourist information packets. You could end up with a few coupons, and talking to the tourist office workers garners a few tips. Also, check out to see what others have found in the area.

Know where to look: Are you a fan of your usual airline or hotel chain on Facebook? Do you follow it on Twitter? Start now. Just like the e-mail alerts you've been getting for years, you'll get information you can use to keep your wallet fat.

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