9 Easy Tips for Money-Saving Travel During The Holidays
The winter holidays can be a stressful time, due to extra school activities, office parties, and holiday invites, not to mention the extra cooking, shopping, and decorating that we usually do. Thanksgiving, Christmas, Hanukah, and New Year’s, however, can also be a great time to take a vacation or make a trip to visit with family and friends that live far away. Travel during these times doesn’t have to cost a fortune—not if you know how to watch your dollars, and it doesn’t’ have to be stressful, either. So, check out these tried and true travel tips that will help you keep your sanity during the holidays!
1. Plan Early and Leave Early.
If you’re planning on flying during the winter holidays, let’s face it, airfares are going be higher. But, that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t travel. You just need to book your flights earlier, at least one month ahead of time—or even earlier, if you can—and be flexible with your travel dates. On the day of your departure, you’ll want to leave the house early, due to crowded roadways, to get to the airport on time. The next four tips discuss ways to find ways to fly for less, even during the holidays.
2. Fly Budget Aircraft Carriers.
Budget doesn’t necessarily mean less, except when it comes to leg room and amenities, which don’t matter to many travelers, especially on shorter flights. If you travel light, with just a carry-on bag or duffle bag in tow, you can usually take it with you on board, thus avoiding an extra fee for luggage. Always check with your specific carrier to confirm the maximum allowable dimensions and weight for your carry-on bag, and make sure to check if there are any limitations on the number of carry-on items you can bring along with you.
3. Fly Out of and into Smaller Airports.
If your destination is near a large metropolitan area, there is probably a smaller airport where you can fly into. For example, if you fly into an airport that’s two hours away from your destination in the big city, and you only have to drive an hour or two to get there, you might want to rent a car and drive those last several miles. Rental cars may also be less expensive if rented from smaller airports. Whether you depart from a small airport, or fly into one, the biggest advantage is that they are less crowded, which will save you time checking in and going through security.
4. Look for Flash Sales, especially at the Holidays.
Airlines know that travel is expensive during the holidays but they still want your business. Flash sales only last a short amount of time, so you must act quickly. There are restrictions like flying into or out of certain airports and you must fly on certain days. Visit the websites of various airline carriers and subscribe to their newsletters so that you’ll be one of the first to know about the latest deals.
5. Earn While You Travel.
Airline carriers love rewarding their passengers for their loyalty with air miles. These miles really can and do add up when you keep flying with the same carrier. Some miles are transferable too, so you may want to ask friends of family members if they have any miles to spare. Business travelers may have thousands of miles banked that they would be happy to share with you. Make sure to check if there are blackout dates during the holidays, however, and schedule your trip around them.
6. Take a Road Trip.
If air travel is out of the question because you have a large family, consider renting an RV or camper. Not only will you enjoy more spacious travel, and have plenty of room to pack your things, you’ll also have a home on wheels when you arrive. If you don’t need to travel a far distance, or you just want to save on a rental and take your own car, that’s fine too. Get plenty of sleep before you leave, and have a second driver, if possible. Depart a day early and leave before sunrise when there’s less traffic on the road. Make sure to have plenty of activities packed for the kids, from games, to books on tape, to movies, and healthy snacks for everyone to enjoy. Enjoy watching the roadside views, too. You’ll feel more relaxed and enjoy the trip.
7. Embrace Public Transportation.
Consider taking a bus or a train to get to your destination. You can relax, sleep, or watch the countryside go by while someone else does the driving. Depending upon the itinerary, traveling by bus or train may be cheaper than air travel. Spending the night on a train can also be fun and can save you one or more nights on hotel accommodations.
8. Be Accommodation-Savvy.
If you will be spending the holidays with your family, claim a family member’s extra bedroom as your own, or ask to stay at a friend’s home who may be out of town. Alternatives like Airbnb and Couchsurfing, websites that allow you to book a spare room in a local person’s house or apartment, can be less expensive than booking a hotel room, especially if you’re travelling solo or as a couple. If you’re holiday vacation doesn’t include visiting family, staying at someone else’s home can give you an authentic snapshot of life in a new place. Consider your host as your very own personal tour guide, who can provide insider-tips for the best eateries and tourist spots.
9. Pack Light.
If you’re travelling by plane, pack lightly, and purchase gifts when you arrive at your destination. Leaving extra room in your suitcase will also give you more space to bring home any gifts you receive or souvenirs you purchase. One way to save on purchasing gifts is to have a gift draw, where family members pick one name and purchase a gift for just that person. This also saves you time and the stress of shopping in crowded stores. Gift cards or cards with cash also make thoughtful gifts that are easy to pack.
If, however, you can’t find a travel plan that fits into your budget, or if you find the perfect travel accommodations but won’t have the money to pay for it until your next paycheck, consider applying for a loan from Advance America to make the purchase, then pay it off before you travel.
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