Traveling around the holidays is popular for a number of reasons. It’s likely one has been given time off of work. If you have family around the world or across the country, it is also likely that you will want to make a point of visiting them. If not, you may simply want to take advantage of the time off of work or school in order to travel.
Holiday travel doesn’t need to be an expensive nightmare. Early planning is the key, and a good first step is registering for email alerts from airlines and discount travel sites. Traveling around the holidays, one of the most popular travel times of the year, does not have to break your bank account. It’s all about the planning!
Here are some ways to save money on your holiday travels:
Use travel monitoring apps and websites –
Websites such as Kayak and Trivago, to name just a couple of the many similar sites out there, can be used to the advantage of the savvy traveler. Pick an approximate range of dates, the cities you will be traveling between, and the number of tickets you’re looking for and let the sites do the rest.
These sites can be set up to give travelers an alert when airline and hotel prices dip below a set amount. Take advantage of this passive alert in order to get the best possible deal without having to continually scour travel sites at all hours of the day. What’s more, these sites can give you the best overhead view between airlines and hotels in order to do some easy comparison shopping for the best possible price.
Buy your flights super early or really last-minute –
The aforementioned travel sites are popular because they allow travelers to get the best deal possible. These sites often give travelers the ability to purchase tickets earlier. The earlier you purchase your tickets, the more likely you are to get a great deal on travel accommodations.
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Airlines and hotels know that travelers tend to get desperate the closer they get to the holidays and know they will likely have no choice but to pay for an expensive ticket the longer they wait to purchase it. Buy your tickets as early as possible, with any buyer protection available. Some airlines may allow travelers to return their tickets and repurchase them if prices dip in the meantime.
Cut down on food expenses –
When on vacation, travelers often forgo their budgets as a problem their future self will have to deal with. Instead, be sure to save yourself a headache down the line by creating a food budget and sticking to it.
Grocery shopping while you’re staying a hotel and packing snacks for travel can help cut down on food expenses when you’re out of town. Designate dates and times during which you will be eating out can help to make saving money easy.
Look for special holiday packages –
Package deals that combine expenses like air and hotel or air and car rental are usually the biggest source of savings. Search for them on the internet and check the offers and perks that come with your credit card.
Bargain with hotels –
A large portion of hotel bookings come from conventions and trade shows, few of which take place over the holidays. When speaking to the hotel directly, the phrase, “Can you do a little better for me?” can lead to significant savings.
Get off the beaten path –
If you’re not committed to a specific destination, consider places that don’t usually attract holiday travelers. Las Vegas, Napa Valley, Turkey, and Greece all get fewer visitors in December, as do cruise lines operating in the southern Mediterranean.
Be a “time-shifter” traveler –
Consider staying home for the holidays and making your trip after New Year’s. January is the cheapest time to visit exciting, notoriously expensive cities like New York, San Francisco, and Washington, D.C. You might be able to save a ton of money by waiting just a few weeks!
Be flexible about flights –
Tuesdays, Wednesdays, Thursdays, and sometimes even Saturdays are less crowded and often cheaper days to fly. Similarly, some airports in your target area may be less expensive than others to arrive and depart from. The Hopper smartphone app is really great for this!
Ship your luggage –
Consider sending your luggage via UPS, FedEx, or a luggage shipping service. The cost is often less; you’ll avoid the crowd at the luggage carousel, and without baggage can comfortably take public transportation to your hotel.
Shop for gifts online –
Instead of lugging presents for friends and family with you, shop online, and have gifts sent to your destination rather than to your home address.
Give yourself a pass –
If you’re going to a large city, consider buying a tourist pass that offers discounts on attractions, stores, restaurants, and transportation.
Make the most of the season –
Whatever your destination, discover what’s special about the holiday there. Concerts, gift markets, elaborate windows, and light displays are often free and just as exciting as activities you’d pay for.
Let’s face it, holiday travel is hectic, but don’t get overwhelmed because you will conquer it with ease this year. Whatever your plans are, be safe, have fun, and have a great holiday!