As the holiday buzz begins to build, the price of travel can grow right along with it. If you plan to fly or hit the road this season, there are ways to save money outside of booking early and avoiding traffic.
Whether it's a weekend trip to grandma's house or a week on the beach, here are five ways to save on holiday travel:
1. Be flexible
When it comes to saving money on traveling, the more flexibility you have, the better. Finding a deal for the exact time and date you want to travel might be difficult. Although it might alter your plans a little, leaving a day early or taking a different route could pay off in certain scenarios. You just have to be open to considering options other than your original plan.
For example, the busiest days for Thanksgiving travel are traditionally the Wednesday before and Sunday after1. If you can shorten or extend your trip by arriving Thanksgiving morning or leaving on Monday, there could be opportunities to save money on these off-peak days. If your plans offer any flexibility, see what savings these alternatives could provide.
2. Research all methods
There are many variables that play into travel costs: amount of people, distance traveled, time of year, etc. Considering how many factors add up to your total cost, it may be worth your time to research all methods of travel. Even if you don't find a deal for the current holiday, you may discover an alternative option to consider for future trips.
Here’s a list of common methods of travel to research:
- Air - see what airlines are running deals and how much you could save with connecting flights instead of a direct flight
- Road - analyze gas prices, traffic expectancy and weather predictions
- Rail - look up all rail schedules for trains that run near your destination
3. Set up email and mobile alerts
Technology has revolutionized many industries including travel. While many travel websites and apps allow you to search and book travel, others can alert you when prices drop or deals become available. To get the best deal possible, try setting up profiles and alerts with several different sources. Keep in mind that deals usually go quickly so you might want to act fast.
Here are some helpful travel apps that can alert you via email or mobile alerts:
4. Bring your own food
Depending on the length of your trip, food costs can take a big bite out of your travel budget. If you are traveling by air, pack some snacks and sandwiches for the airport and flight. You can’t carry on liquids over 3.4 oz.2 but some airlines do offer free beverages.
If you’re hitting the road, make a stop at the grocery store and pack a cooler full of food and drinks for the trip. If you plan to visit family for the holidays, you might even be heading home with a cooler full of food as well!
5. Stay with family or friends
If you plan to visit someone for several days, it may be worth asking if you could use their spare bedroom or basement. In order to be polite and accommodating to your potential host, try to ask as early as possible and offer to help in any way during your visit.
Here are some potential upsides to staying with family or friends and not in a hotel:
- No room costs - you could save hundreds depending on the length of your stay
- Home cooking and leftovers - cut your foods costs down with direct access to a kitchen and leftovers
- More time together - spend more quality time with your loved ones outside of meals and planned events
Travel smart and save
Holiday travel can be more cost effective with a little effort. By using the tips listed above, you might even have some new saving tips to share during your next holiday meal.