Ah, the holidays. Food, family, gifts, and more are celebrated during the last three months of the year. And while it’s certainly easy to travel on a budget at any time of the year, it does seem significantly harder to do during the holidays. With travel being the biggest holiday expense for over 43% of Americans, it’s no wonder many people fear that it will cost them an arm and a leg to get home to their loved ones. But it doesn’t have to be that way! Here are 9 ways to travel frugally this holiday season.
9 Ways to Travel Frugally This Holiday Season
This post was written by our staff writer, Kimberly Studdard.
1) Book At The Right Time
While earlier is always better when it comes to air travel, you still have time to get a good deal. When looking for tickets (even for trains and buses), remember these two simple rules:
- Don’t book your travel date the day before or after the holiday, and
- Book your flights on a Tuesday or Thursday.
Because those are the cheapest days to book, and you could save yourself around $100+ dollars just by changing the day.
In the future, try booking a few months in advance to avoid the influx of prices that airlines charge around the holidays. You could end up saving yourself hundreds of dollars!
2) Take Advantage of Price Guarantees
With so many companies in competition with each other, this helps you as a consumer. Don’t be afraid to take advantage of price guarantees when you’re trying to travel frugally this holiday. Did you book your airline tickets and find them cheaper on another website two days later? Most likely, if you booked with a website like Orbitz or Priceline, they’ll reimburse you for the price difference. All you have to do is call them! They want your money and your business, so they would rather give you a few bucks back than to lose what you’ve paid them.
3) Fly During The Holiday
I know, I know, this sounds silly. Why would you travel on the actual holiday when you could be spending that time with family? Because it’s cheaper, that’s why – it’ll help you travel frugally this holiday season…WAY more frugally.
You see, no one wants to travel on the actual holiday itself. Instead, many people travel the weekend before (which means an increase in weekend prices) or the day before. Traveling the day of could mean hundreds of dollars back into your wallet. If your family doesn’t mind you showing up until dinner is announced, you can save yourself a pretty penny.
If your destination isn’t too far, and if you won’t be putting your family in danger driving in snow and ice, taking a car instead of a plane or train can save you a significant amount of money. While many airline tickets reach around $350+ around the holidays, you could rent a car for a whole week for $500 or less (in most cases). Plus, that’s just more bonding time for the kids! 🙂
5) Grab Coupons Online
Want an easy way to travel frugally this holiday season? Before searching for plane tickets, rental cars, or even hotel rooms, make sure you do a quick search for deals and coupons on sites like Honey or Retail Me Not. These coupons can be directly added to your booking and scheduling, without you having to negotiate for a better rate.
6) Join Loyalty Programs
While some loyalty programs aren’t worth the signup, you may be able to save yourself money if you join an airline or hotel loyalty program.
For example, with American Airlines, you can sign up for their loyalty program (for free), and earn miles every time you book a flight. If you’re booking flights for your entire family, take advantage of the free miles and you may even be able to pay for part of the trip!
7) Pay For The Package
Sometimes a package is a better deal than booking everything separately.
While individual research will need to be done based on your family size, travel dates, and accommodations needed, you can typically get a flight, hotel, and rental car for less when they’re combined vs. purchasing them all separately. Again, don’t be afraid to look on multiple sites for the best deal possible.
8) Stay With Family
This is all dependent on how your family functions together, but you can save money on room and board if you stay with family. This may not be an option for you, but if it is then take advantage of it! Hotels and even Airbnbs are expensive during the holidays. You can save around 1/3 of your travel costs if you cut out the hotel stay. Plus, staying with family means better access to the kitchen, which is typically the heart of the holidays.
9) Redeem Rewards
Are you a military man or woman? Are you a senior? Do you have AAA? You’d be surprised at the discounts and rewards you can receive just by answering yes to one of these questions. Don’t hesitate to see what you can get a discount for.
Also, while I don’t like the idea of using credit cards, if you use them responsibly they can offer you a great return for rewards, miles, and more (depending on the card). So if you’ve been racking up points, now is the perfect time to redeem them and save some money!
Are You Ready to Travel Frugally This Holiday Season?
Traveling during the holidays is stressful. The last thing you want to be worrying about is the costs on top of everything else. So instead, take the tips above, and remember to plan accordingly. It doesn’t have to cost you a fortune to be with loved ones. Be safe, and have a terrific holiday season!
AUTHOR Kimberly Studdard
Kim Studdard is a project manager for online entrepreneurs and small businesses. When she isn't spending time with her daughter and husband, or reading her growing pile of horror books, you'll find her working on her HR degree and working towards FIRE.