Sure, you can always give a gift card for an airline or hotel, but why not get a little more creative? You can give the gift of travel on the holiday itself for travel at a later date. This way you have something to look forward to in the new year, you skip the hassle and expense of flying over the holidays, and you can pick a time when it's convenient and / or inexpensive. A travel industry secret: the first few weeks of January are some of the least expensive of the entire year for both airfare and hotels.
Your decision should be based on the recipient. A stressed out mom may love a long weekend at a spa resort within driving distance. Consider ordering a robe from the spa itself and wrap the itinerary inside. You can present the robe as the gift and she'll have a memento from the weekend once it's over. If you're interested in giving a romantic getaway, consider an adults-only all inclusive where you won't run the risk of kids doing cannonballs in the swimming pool. Buy him or her lingerie and include the itinerary in the box. They'll get the idea! To give the entire family a bonding getaway, give them a small token reflective of the upcoming trip. If it's a trip to Disney, give each child a stuffed replica of their favorite character or a doll of their favorite princess. For a trip to Hawaii, present every member of the family with a lei. Considering a cruise? How about a model ship the kids can put together before they set sail on their own voyage.
Airfare can add up fast. You'll save big when you take a vacation within driving distance of home. If you do book a trip that includes airfare, be sure to book that and your hotel at the same time in a vacation package. This simple step saves up to $525 per booking, according to a recent Travelocity study. Fly on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Saturdays whenever possible - they're the least-traveled days of the week and the cheapest to fly.
Hotels are generally much more lenient with cancellation policies than airlines. Often you can cancel a hotel stay up until 24 hours before scheduled arrival. Airlines, on the other hand, typically charge a change fee of $150 plus any difference in fare. Be sure of your travel plans! Also, be sure to enter your (and any other person you're booking for) exact information as it appears on the identification you'll be using at the airport. They must match exactly or you may run into an issue. Use a travel site that will refund your money if the price goes down after you book. The Travelocity Price Guarantee for hotels refunds the difference in price if a customer finds the same hotel for the same dates anywhere online for less (excluding name-your-own price hotels).
Genevieve Brown & Erika Wortham