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November 1, 2013

10 tips to ease holiday travel stress

Going home for the holidays can easily turn into a high-stress situation as millions of Americans clog the highways and airports during the year's busiest travel time.

Travelzoo recently released a collection of tips to help travelers alleviate the stress of, and save money on, holiday travel.

1. Download popular travel apps that save you time and money. Apps like Waze GPS navigation or Google Maps help you avoid traffic jams and get the best routes.  Find last-minute restaurant deals once you arrive with Travelzoo's mobile app.

2. Pick the right day to fly. Be flexible with your travel dates. Flying on Thanksgiving or Christmas day can be less expensive than surrounding days. Be flexible on your departure and arrival dates to save 30 to 50 percent.

3. Choose a smaller airport. Try alternative airports: Oakland vs. San Francisco, Midway vs. O'Hare, Burbank vs. LAX, Westchester vs. JFK. Search for fares on Fly.com and receive an alert if there's a cheaper fare from a nearby airport.

4. Connect south. Pick the southernmost airport for connections to avoid potential weather delays.

5. Choose a destination not celebrating a holiday. The Caribbean on Thanksgiving costs less than Orlando because families often stay in the U.S. over the holidays.

6. Book a room at a business hotel. Hotels in major cities drop rates because of the lack of business travelers during holidays.

7. Head to the beach. Beachfront resorts are quieter in the winter or fall. Save as much as 30 percent at destinations like Cape Cod, Hilton Head or Myrtle Beach.

8. Cruise through the holiday. Holiday cruises offer the best value for the entire family--some offers are less than $100 per person, per night--plus you can see several destinations in a single trip.

9. Be smart at airport security. CLEAR or the TSA Pre-Check Program can help you speed through security. Ship gifts instead of bringing them in your carry-on.

10. De-stress at a premium airport lounge. Buy a single-day pass to a premium lounge as a way to escape the noise of airport terminals. You'll arrive more rested, relaxed and ready for holiday fun.

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