Carolyn Dillingham writes for Barbados Holidays where you can find a variety of inexpensive, family friendly, and fun travel packages.

One of the best parts of the holiday season is taking the time to visit family and friends, far and wide, that you may be unable to see at any other time of year.  But with the price of airline tickets, hotel rooms, and rental cars at a premium, and long lines, delayed flights, and cancellations plaguing travelers during the busiest travel season of the year, contemplating leaving home, even to see loved ones that have long been absent, can be the furthest thing from your mind.  But you shouldn’t miss out on the joy of the season just because prices are high and lines are long.  There are ways to cut back on travel expenses and make it a Merry Christmas, Happy Chanukah, or all-around joyful holiday for everyone in your family (including yourself).

Although it’s a bit late to book your holiday travel ahead of time to avoid outrageous prices, you can still travel cheaply…later on.  One of the best ways to skirt the steep price for airline tickets is to plan your family visit for after the holidays.  The time you spend with loved ones is special no matter when it occurs.  Whether you fly in January or July, your family will be just as happy to see you.  And they certainly wouldn’t want you to go into debt just to get some face time.  So consider traveling the week after New Year instead.  Most companies are happy to give time off since business is slow immediately following the holidays, not to mention they’ll probably be grateful to have someone in the office during a time when most employees are opting out.

The nice thing about this plan (besides traveling at a fraction of the cost) is that you get to spend a nice quiet holiday at home and make a little quality time for your nuclear family.  While you get to see them throughout the year, it can be easy to take each other for granted, especially when everyone has such hectic schedules to work around.  Without the added stress of travel to occupy your mind, you can truly focus on your immediate family and enjoy the time you get to spend with them.  In short, you can have your cake and eat it, too.

Of course, some people will still want to brave the weather, crowds, and hassles of holiday travel in order to be with their far-away loved ones at this time of year.  In that case, there are still a couple of ways to cut the cost.  By selecting flexible dates (including travel on the actual holiday) and opting for a red-eye flight, you can often get a discount.  In addition, you may want to consider a travel package that bundles an airline ticket, hotel room, and rental car (or whichever items you need) as a way to secure extra savings.  Of course, you could skip air travel altogether.  Train tickets might be just as expensive, but travel by car will definitely cost less.  You may have to contend with inclement weather and other complications, but you’ll get where you’re going for pennies on the dollar.

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