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Top 6 tips to save money on winter travel

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Updated: 1/17/2013 10:05 am

(BPT) - Whether you need a break from the cold, some time off after the busy season at work, or simply need to get away after a hectic holiday season, a winter vacation can be a welcome respite. Winter can also be the most cost-effective time of year to book a vacation, before the summer travel season heats up and families with kids are looking to get away.

By developing a plan and knowing a few key booking tactics, you can get a great deal on your winter trip. Here are six tips for getting the best deal on your winter getaway:

* Book early. Whether you're booking flights, hotels or rental cars, the general rule is the earlier you book, the better price you'll get. You'll also have a better selection available in terms of seat locations, flight times and accommodations. Use travel sites to set alerts about the locations of your choice. If you find a deal, don't hesitate to secure a booking as the best travel deals sell out quickly.

* Explore package deals. If you know you'll be purchasing flights, lodging and a rental car, look into bundling all of them in one package. Bundling can save you money and simplify your booking. Third-party travel sites like Travelocity, Orbitz, Expedia and Priceline are great places to find these types of deals, but don't start there. Coupon sites like Ebates.com will help you find seasonal travel discounts from these third-party sites and you'll earn additional savings of cash back by starting your search here.

* Loyalty pays. Frequent stays at one lodging chain can help you score perks, upgrades and deals. The same goes for airlines. If you have to travel for work or other reasons throughout the year, accumulating points and frequent flyer miles through loyalty programs can help you save on vacations.

* Take an early spring break. Cruises and vacations to popular spring break destinations are often more affordable and less crowded during the first three months of the year. Choosing an all-inclusive option is a nice way to set and stick to a budget at the beginning of your trip. Since all the essentials are already covered, it can be an easy way to avoid overspending.

* Make yourself at home. Consider staying in privately owned homes and apartments through trusted websites like vrbo.com that list thousands of houses, cabins and condominiums available throughout the world. With this option, you can find unique lodging at rates that are competitive and often less expensive than traditional hotel options.

* See what others are saying. Online travel communities can help you find the best deals, as well as deliver general travel advice that can help make your trip great. At sites like FatWallet.com, you can review travel discussion forums where like-minded consumers share their experiences, as well as information about current travel deals. You can also set alerts to notify you when topics concerning your potential destination come up.

Nothing beats taking a little time away to break the winter doldrums. And with the right approach, you can make your winter getaway one that won't break your budget.

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