Whether you’re flying solo across the country to see long lost cousins or just catching a flight with the whole family to spend the holidays with mom and dad, there are plenty of ways to plan your holiday vacation without having to use up your gift budget!
Avoid peak travel dates
Try your hardest to remain flexible when planning your trip to potentially save an incredible amount by traveling on days others will try to avoid. Booking a flight for Thanksgiving proper might seem counterintuitive, but the airport will be less crowded and airlines are known to give cut-rate deals to avoid a complete loss on an empty seat.
Also use this logic on your return flight. Coming home a day or two earlier than originally planned might save you hundreds of dollars not only in airfare but also hotel rooms and rental cars.
Book early (or super late!)
Keeping an eye on airfare many months in advance can help you buy at the most opportune time and get a fantastic deal. Most travel websites can be set up to alert you when a flight dips below a certain price or have guarantees that will refund you if there’s a price change after the tickets have been purchased.
Use these tools to your advantage to get the best price possible.
On the other side of the coin, waiting until the last minute can also lead to lower prices. Once a flight looks like it’s not going to sell out, airlines will start slashing airfare to encourage last minutes travelers to hop on the flight. This is a great option if you’re traveling alone or have a flexible schedule around the holidays.
What may seem like a real deal might be too good to be true. More and more so-called “deal” websites are tacking on fees or excluding services that used to be standard in the price of a ticket in order to turn a profit.
Always read the fine print to make sure you’re not going to be expected to pay for a carry-on, choosing a seat on the plane, or even for printing out a boarding pass at the airport. Your reasonable airfare may quickly lose its value when all of these nickel and dime fees are added into the total.
Check your preferred airlines’ website to confirm that you truly are getting a better deal from a third party before purchasing any ticket. Many times you’ll find that buying direct ends up saving you money in the long run.
Know your airports
Sometimes flying into a city that’s a few hours away from your final destination and driving the rest of the way or having friends or family pick you up can save you a pretty penny. Knowing if there is a smaller airport you can fly into nearby is a great alternative when flights are being overbooked or when airfare is exorbitantly expensive.
If you’re going on a short trip, make sure to pack accordingly. Since many airlines now charge to check a bag, it only makes sense to limit what you take with you for the holidays.
While it may seem easier to bring gifts with you, remember that TSA may be required to unwrap them while they are being inspected even if you decide to check them. Even worse, they may get lost while being transported, leaving you empty-handed over the holidays.
A great solution is to purchase your gifts online and have them shipped directly to where you are spending the holidays. Many sites can even do the gift-wrapping for you!
Pack snacks and drinks
Airport food can be expensive and stopping every few hours for food on a road trip can tack on lots of extra hours. Packing a cooler with some drinks and a few treats to munch on can not only save you time and money, but also put you in a better overall mood. We all know travelling can be stressful at it is, and adding a rumbling stomach isn’t going to help matters, so keep yourself from getting too “hangry” by having food nearby on your travels.
Try these travel tips this winter during your holiday plans and use the savings to pick up an extra present or two for yourself! You definitely deserve it after all of those crowded airports and middle seats you survived.
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