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How to travel stress-free in the winter

| Saturday, Feb. 15, 2014, 5:33 p.m.

Winter travel doesn't need to be a nightmare. Through proper planning and a little bit of luck, savvy travelers can have a great trip, whether it's a ski trip or a beach trip to Florida. Bob Diener, co-founder of Hotels.com and Getaroom.com shares advice on how to make the most of winter travel.

Ski off the beaten track. Consider smaller and less-crowded ski destinations in Colorado or New England instead of Aspen or Killington. Many lesser-known resorts offer considerably lower rates to attract ski-season travelers.

Take a jacket to Sin City. Vegas is cold in winter, but all of the gaming and entertainment options are still hot. Travelers visiting Las Vegas from Sundays to Thursdays can enjoy the lowest rates of the year at five-star hotels.

Pick smart flights. If you are headed to warmth such as Miami or Phoenix, then route your flight through southern layovers. The flight with the stop in Detroit might be $20 cheaper, but is it worth the risk of bad winter weather?

Check in on Sunday. Traditionally a “check-out” day, Sundays are an ideal day to start your trip because rates are often lower than the typical Friday or Saturday check-in rates.

Stay informed. Use your phone to check flight statuses and weather alerts. If your flight is canceled, you are often better off using the phone to make new arrangements instead of waiting in a long service desk line.

Be polite. Winter travel can be unpredictable. It's not the airline's fault that it's snowing or there is freezing rain. They canceled flights for your safety, not to ruin your vacation. Be as polite as you can to encourage airline and hotel staff to take the extra step to help you out.

Consider nontraditional destinations. New York City can be magical in winter time, with carriage rides and the city lights reflecting in the snow. Go toward the cold to experience a destination in a new way, and avoid big summer crowds.

Prepare your car. Be careful when planning a northern car trip during the winter. Pack extra clothes, blankets and food to ensure you are ready for the unexpected. Grab a car cellphone charger or a portable battery charging device for that extra piece of mind.

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