Heading out of town for the holidays? It seems like everyone is traveling and it gets so expensive! Try out some of these tips on how to save money on holiday travel.
Ways to save money on holiday travel
Whether you’re visiting family for Christmas, or just want to get out of town for an all-inclusive vacation on a beach at a Sandals Resort for the holiday season, just know that the airlines and hotels know this and they are looking to make top dollar. Don’t let the busy holiday travel season discourage you, there are ways to get to your destination without breaking the bank!
14 Tips On How To Save Money On Christmas Travel
1. Plan ahead and book as soon as possible
The closer you get to the holidays, the higher the prices go up. This is true for flights, hotels, rental cars, and even gas prices! Also, waiting till the last minute means that you run the chance that your preferred flight, hotel, or rental car company is sold out.
2. Do ample research to get the best deals
Love the first deal you see? There might be a better value, you’ve just got to look! I like to start with Google Flights and Google Hotels to get a ballpark range for availability and rates, then check popular travel search engines (like Expedia.com) for promo codes. Finally, I take a look at each of the airline and hotel websites to be sure I am getting the best fare available. Expedia.com usually gets me the best rates on flights and rental cars. I also like Booking.com for hotels, and check CheapAir.com for flight deals.
3. Travel on less popular days
Generally speaking, traveling mid-week is the least popular time to fly. This is NOT always true during the holiday season! Thanksgiving will always be on a Thursday, so more people are most likely traveling Tuesday and Wednesday to get to their destinations, then again the weekend after to return home. Christmas varies each year, so the popular travel days vary as well. Try to choose travel dates that will not be directly before and after December 25th.
To note: Disneyland is a popular family travel destination during the holidays. If you are considering making the trip, we suggest reading this best time to go to Disneyland post as it also suggests going during the week.
4. Go earlier, stay longer
Heading to your travel destination earlier, or staying a little longer can help you save money on holiday travel. Similar to the tip above, you want to stay far away from the airports and highways when most people are traveling. Try to travel on Sunday or Monday before Thanksgiving, or even on Thanksgiving Day, and stay beyond the weekend if you can. The same goes for Christmas, if you can stay through the New Year, you’ll save a ton!
5. Use frequent flier miles, hotel points, and other rewards
If you’ve accrued any airline miles from frequent flyer programs, hotel rewards points, and even credit card rewards points, this is a great time to see what you have available to use. I’ve been able to get a free night stay each year from my credit card rewards program and airline miles. Since I fly often, I can get at least one leg of a flight for each member of my family!
6. Take an overnight red-eye flight
Sometimes, leaving super late at night has its advantages. I love taking red-eye flights when traveling from the west to the east coast, I end up getting there without missing a whole day. Plus, they aren’t the most popular choice, so prices tend to be a bit lower than daytime flights. Make sure you bring your portable travel pillow with you to catch some zzzzz’s on the flight.
7. Pack light, reduce baggage fees
It seems like all of the airlines are charging for every little ounce of baggage you bring on board. It’s time to start packing light and save on those checked baggage fees! Make sure you check with the airline you’ve booked with to see exactly what they charge for – some have started fees for carry-ons. My favorite carry on roller luggage bag
8. Book two, one-way flights
Airlines have different airfares on different days, it’s ever-changing. Check one-way flights to and from your destination. You might be able to get one of the flight legs cheaper than if you book a round trip with the same airline. I have done this before and saved $75 per flight, just because I was able to adjust my schedule and find a one-way return flight separately that worked out. Priceline is perfect for this, search one-way flights separately in each direction and they’ll find you the best price! This is one of my top ways to save money on holiday travel.
9. Consider alternative transportation
Flying the whole family can be pricey, so consider checking the schedules of local bus and train routes. Traveling by train or bus takes a little more time, but it’s definitely more budget-friendly. Some ideas to get out of town: Greyhound, MegaBus, Amtrak. Even renting a car and filling it up with gas is a great way to
10. Stay with family and friends, avoid hotel stays if possible
If you’re going to visit family or have friends in the city you’re visiting, see if you can sleep on their couch for a few nights. Don’t pay for nights at a hotel if you don’t have to! This is one of the best ways to save money on holiday travel.
11. If you must stay at a hotel, choose a budget-friendly one!
There are times when you simply can’t get around paying for a hotel room, so plan ahead, book ahead, and choose the best budget-friendly hotel in the area you’ll be visiting. Hotel chains such as Red Roof Inn, Hampton Inn, and Best Western are very budget-friendly, simple and clean, and found nationwide. You can also consider staying at hostels, not my top choice but definitely an option. Check out the following list for places to search for hotels and awesome vacation property rentals.
- VRBO for vacation properties
- Rentals Combined for vacation properties (choose the home size and price you want, great for large families)
12. Use social media to your advantage
Did you know that you can find holiday travel tips on social media? There are exclusive accounts that are dedicated to sharing flight and hotels deals that can help you save money on holiday travel. On Twitter, I would follow @theflightdeal and @airfarewatchdog for flight deals. On Facebook, keep up with Fare Deal Alert and Secret Flying.
13. Bring your own food, drinks, and snacks
You can totally plan ahead and pack a food bag for your travels – I am talking full meals. If you’re flying, make sure there are no liquid items, as they will be taken away at TSA security screening (no fruits, veggies, meats, etc on international flights). If you’re riding the bus or road tripping, pack all the food and drinks you desire. This will prevent unnecessary spending at restaurants and pit stops along the way. As long as you’re not traveling internationally, almost anything goes!
14. Buy holiday gifts when you get to your destination
If you’re following the steps above, you know that you’ve planned to arrive a bit early to your travel destination. You can save time, sanity, and baggage fees when you buy your holiday gifts when you get there. So many gifts get stolen, lost, damaged, and are often too much to carry onto your flight. You know what that means: pay extra! Unless it’s something you can’t get elsewhere, don’t buy it yet!
No matter where you’re headed, enjoy your holiday travels!
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