The holidays can be the most wonderful time of the year, but the season can also be a costly time of the year. With the hustle and bustle of the season comes added expenses—gifts, gatherings, groceries, and, if you are going home for Thanksgiving or at Christmastime—travel. If you, or you and your family, are planning to travel anytime during the holiday season, to save money on travel, it is essential to plan. Whether flying or driving, here are 5 ways to save money on travel this holiday season:
1. Book Your Flights Early
If flying is in the cards for the holidays, plain and simple, booking flights early will save money, especially if you are traveling at Christmastime. The good news is the “prime booking window” to save money on flights is an exceptionally wide one—roughly 3 months—121 to 21 days before the flight is the best opportunity to find a bargain. Because fares may jump around during this time, sometimes several times each day, set your app or email notifications to be alerted when prices drop. Be sure to use the discount airfare websites, too. Three of the best sites for the best deals are Skyscanner, Kiwi, and Skiplagged.
The only thing certain about the prime booking window is, if you miss it, you will pay more. Fares begin to increase the closer to the departure date. There are rarely sales under three weeks. If you wait, especially until the last minute, then the price you pay will be at a premium.
2. When to Fly
One frequent misconception when booking a flight is the notion that there are cheaper days to do so, which is not necessarily the case. Though some websites claim there are certain days to book flights, overall, the difference in price among days is marginal, only a few dollars. There are, however, cheaper days to fly. You will find the best deals if you can book your holiday travel flight days for Tuesdays and Wednesdays. On the other hand, Sunday is the most expensive day to fly—on average, $75 more per ticket.
3. Be Flexible
Whether you plan to fly or drive home for Thanksgiving or Christmas, be as flexible as you can with your schedule. As mentioned, you can save money by flying on certain days. Some airlines offer lower fares if you fly on the actual day of the holiday. If you’re driving a distance, you can avert stress and save on fuel by avoiding gas-depleting traffic jams. If the drive is more than one day, book accommodations online in advance at such travel sites as booking.com. You will not only get the best price, but you can rest assured that there’s a room waiting for you.
4. Ship Your Gifts & Presents
Rather than having to pack several extra bags for carrying gifts, consider mailing them to your destination. Baggage fees can run an additional $100-$150 to the cost of your flight. And why pay for a larger rental vehicle to carry the extra baggage once you’ve arrived at your destination? The more you ship, the fewer suitcases you need to pack or cram in your car.
5. Pack Your Own Food, Drinks and Snacks for the Trip
If you are flying discount air or driving a distance, at some point in the journey you’re bound to get hungry. Discount airfares do not come with a free meal or drinks, let alone snacks. Choices and portions are limited and expensive. When driving, buying snacks at every gas station or stopping at fast-food restaurants can quickly deplete your travel funds. Instead of buying chips, cheeseburgers, and drinks along the way at the air terminal and convenience store prices, pack your own food for the trip. Truth is, you will eat healthier and for pennies on the dollar.