South for the holidays: How to land a deal So you've made an 11th-hour decision to head south for the holidays and now you want to see how affordable it is. Well, before you cash in an RSP or sell off the Christmas gifts you've already purchased, consider a few of the budget travel site options. Don't be shy about booking your own travel arrangements. If you've not booked your own travel online before, here are a few things I've found that worked for me: • Avoid over-researching: The last thing you want to do is bury yourself under an avalanche of information, pricing and resort deals. Face it: it's mid-November. Time is money. The longer you wait, the more it's going to cost. • Focus on three or four budget travel sites and apply the same dates and holiday requests on each. • Pay attention to the fine details. What's considered "all-inclusive" to one tour operator isn't necessarily the same as the next. There are numerous well-respected budget travel sites. Based on the ones I have personally used (and was pleased with), here are my top four budget travel sites for holiday getaways involving multiple travellers. 1. Expedia 2. Orbitz 3. RedTag 4. Cheapflights I just did a quick comparison for a family of four (two adults, 2 children under the age of 17 years old) flying from Winnipeg, Manitoba to Punta Cana, Dominican Republic, with a preferred stay at the Ocean Blue and Sand Resort where I spent a few nights last year. Fabulous beaches. (Why anyone splashes about in a crowded resort pool when you've got the real thing just yards away is beyond me.) I opted for a 'hotel and flight' combo with a departure date of Sat. Dec. 21 and a return of Sat. Dec. 28. The search results were encouraging – although slightly different on each web site. A few observations to share with you: 1. While all four of the budget travel sites delivered comparable prices, there were variations. RedTag and Cheapflights had decent packages – but not the dates I requested for this number of people and with the specific resort requested. My make-believe family of four would have to leave a couple days earlier. So ask yourself: how flexible are you? 2. Yes, you could book airfare and hotel separately. But your own quick comparison should give you the answer. Go to WestJet or Air Canada to search flights, and then go to the re servations page of the Ocean Blue and Sand resort site. Crunch the numbers, do the math. 3. A couple of the sites included the option of "all inclusive." Do you want all of your meals on the resort property? You'd save about 35% by choosing that option on RedTag. 4. Be mindful of the ages of children. If your two children are ages 10 and 18, respectively, in the eyes of many booking sites that's one child and one additional adult. (Cost factor.) 5. Taxes and fees: there were slight variances in service fees and taxes. So pay close attention. I didn't find any of them hugely different but a few dollars saved could go for an extra off-resort excursion. My overall advice: be flexible, pay attention – and do it soon! Have you ever flown south for the holidays?