The Holidays are once again right around the corner and, if you’re considering traveling during this festive time of year, you’ll find that prices are generally much higher. (Bah, humbug.) It’s still possible to save money however if you make smart decisions when you book your tickets, know what to bring and know the best way to get from “point A” to “point B”. With that in mind we put together a list of excellent money-saving tips for holiday travel that will help you to keep the “ho, ho, ho” in your Ho-liday travels. Enjoy.
- Consider the difference between Driving and Flying. Depending on how far you are traveling, driving there with your own vehicle might seem like a “no-brainer”. Who in their right mind likes to pay for checked bags, go through that God awful security line and worry about flight delays and cancellations, are we right? On the other hand, depending on how far you will be traveling and for how long, flying might be the better option when you consider that the price of a gallon of gas is at an all-time national high of $3.60. Both AAA and Travelmath have websites featuring fuel calculators that will tell you approximately how much your gas costs will be based on the type of vehicle that you have and the distance that you’re going to drive. Use them and you’ll have a much better idea of whether driving really is a better option than flying.
- Clear your “cache” every time you make a new search. Searching online for your tickets, hotels and car rental prices is an excellent and convenient idea but, unless you clear your computer’s cache every time you might actually get locked into a specific price without even knowing it or lose a great deal if you navigate away from the page. If you want to get the most up-to-date and best fares and rates, clear your computer’s memory every time you search.
- Make sure to Book Early but also to Keep Looking. Planning well ahead of time is one of the best ways to save money on travel tickets, accommodations and car rental prices. Once your plans are set however it doesn’t mean that you should stop looking for better deals. Most airlines and automobile rental agencies will give you a refund if their fares go down between the time that you book and the time that you travel. You can use an online service like Yapta to keep track of airline fares and do just that.
- Bring Food and Snacks. One of the biggest incidental expenses when traveling is food, drinks and snacks. If you are flying you can bring things along to munch on while you’re on the plane and, if you’re driving, you can pack a cooler with food and snacks and save a TON of money. Not only that but you’ll be able to pack food and snacks that you enjoy and that are relatively healthy as opposed to the high-priced junk that you find on most airplanes, in most airports and at most rest stops along the highway.
- Pack necessities only. Here’s a fact; airlines are charging for everything these days. Most will let you on the plane with a small carry-on bag the size of a small backpack (or smaller) and start charging for every other bag that you bring. Unless you absolutely have to have certain clothing items or other items, pack as little as possible and you’ll save lots of money on baggage fees. One thing you might consider, especially if you are bringing lots of presents with you, is to ship them ahead of time instead.
- Check prices at Alternative Airports. While it might be a bit more convenient to fly out of the biggest airport in your area, there are plenty of smaller alternatives these days that will allow you to get a much better price on your tickets and also on your rental car costs. In the Miami Metro area, for example, the Fort Lauderdale airport is generally about 10% cheaper. Also, it has shorter lines, waiting times are shorter, and it’s a lot less stressful and aggravating.
- Play the odds. If it’s possible (and you won’t make too many people in your family upset) you may wish to wait until the very last minute to find some excellent travel deals. These can arise when airlines find that they have empty seats on what looked like a “full” flight (possibly because someone changed their plans or didn’t make it to the airport on time). The closer you get to the actual holiday, the better the deals will be but also the bigger the chance that you might have to stay home and drink eggnog by yourself. In many cases you’ll score an excellent price if you get a little bit lucky.
The holidays are certainly a special time of year that should be enjoyed with family and friends. If you’re planning on traveling do yourself a favor and use the tips and advice above to make sure that you get great deals, have less stress and enjoy your holidays to the fullest. Best of luck, Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays to all.