Forty-percent of Americans traveled during the holiday season last year, and nearly one third of those travelers packed less in order to avoid baggage fees.  But there are other ways to avoid paying over-the-odds when you travel.

First, be flexible. Don’t be set on a specific date or airport.  Searching nearby airports for flights a day before or after your first choice could save you a lot.

Next, try to book in pairs.  By doing so, you could avoid the fees airlines charge for large groups to sit together.

Third, it's too late for Christmas, but if you're planning on traveling in the beginning of the new year, try to buy seven weeks in advance.  An analysis by the website cheapair.com found the cheapest ticket price was around 49 days before departure.

Fourth, book directly with the airline.  Airlines have to pay a commission on each flight they sell through a discount site, so will often offer promo codes on their Twitter or Facebook pages for flights bought on their site.  Many will also give you a refund if the price of your flight goes down after you book it, if you call them.

Another tip for cheap flights are to mix and match between different airlines.  Some websites will let you choose a cheaper return flight on a different airline.