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It's now or never for the best holiday deals

Want to know the trick to snagging the best airfares for holiday travel? It's all in the timing, a report today from The Associated Press reveals. And of the several "sweet spots" on the calendar each year, fare experts say the first is starting this week.

Typically, booking early is the fiscally responsible way to go, but if you've procrastinated, you can still nab a deal -- if you know exactly when to buy. "For Thanksgiving and Christmas flights, fares will be at lowest through next week," according to historical data analyzed by Expedia for The Associated Press. "Ticket prices are about 10 to 20 percent lower now than they will be in just a couple of weeks," Daniel Kissin, Expedia's manager of strategy and analysis, told The AP.

"If you delay, you'll have to pay," travel expert Bob Diener, founder of getaroom.com, tells us. "People are predictable. Everyone books about 5 or 6 weeks out, and the airlines and hotels know that. That's why everything is on sale now and will start going back up again by the end of next week."

Here are some more tips from Diener for booking the best holiday fares:

1. Traveling on Thanksgiving Day or Christmas Day will save you a bundle, often $100 or more per ticket.

2. Always book the cheapest rental car. They sell out of economy cars first, and they'll give you a free upgrade to a nicer car.

3. When checking in at a hotel, always ask for a complimentary upgrade to a better room. The real cost to the hotel on a room is about $20 a night. The desk clerk will often upgrade you to a suite or even the Presidential suite if it's empty and they think you'll be a good return customer.

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