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Holiday Travel on a Budget

by Aleia 12. November 2012

 

 

Traveling Without Breaking the Bank

 

Traveling can become costly any time of the year, but it always feels particularly expensive around the holidays.  If you are wanting to save a couple bucks on travel to put towards your gift budget here are some tips that might help you get through holiday traveling. 

 

Holiday Travel By Air

  • If at all possible travel on the actual date of the holiday, it is much less expensive (less crowded too!) if you travel on Thanksgiving day rather than the day before or after.  If you can’t travel on the actual date it’s best to avoid the two days before and the two after a major holiday as the airports are at their busiest and their prices reflect that.
  •  The least expensive days to fly tend to be Tuesday, Wednesday, and Saturday.
  • Buying airline tickets in advance can be very cost effective but make sure that you don’t book too early as airlines don’t re-assess cost for tickets in relations to supply/demand/cost until roughly 3 months prior to travel date. 
  • Consider alternate airports.  Smaller airports might have better airfare and be less crowded, especially during the holiday season.  It is a good idea to check what airports are close to both your arrival and departure cities. 
  •  A good tool to search airports by distance to city is: http://travel.travelocity.com/car/PreClosestAirport.do?txnType=pickup
  •  There are two dangerous traps to fall in to price-wise:  booking online and booking connecting flights.  Both of these seem like a cost-effective move but can easily turn into an expensive option.  Non-stop flights may sometimes be more expensive initially but it’s much less expensive than having to re-book because of flight days that could cause you an expensive and unexpected overnight stay.  Also, when flights become over-booked people who have used online budget sites to book flights tend to be the first people pushed onto a later flight rather than people who have booked through a travel agent or airline, this delay can cause missed connections or cause re-ticketing fees which add up.

Holiday Accommodations

  • Don’t be afraid to attempt to negotiate rates with hotels.  Many hotels will lower rates, give free upgrades, or even perks that can make your stay more comfortable.  Check the online rates but always make sure to contact the hotel as well and see what options you have.
  • Over the holidays business hotels tend to have lower prices and are less hectic since they tend to depend on business travel which slows during the holiday season.
  • If you have a particular preference for a hotel chain or destination follow them on Twitter, Facebook, or other social networking sites, you might score a promotion that’s only offered through those sites. 
  • If you aren’t traveling to visit family but are instead taking a family vacation or planning on spending the holidays with a group of friends, shop around before making a decision about your destination.  Due to the current economy many hotels and resorts are offering special deals that may include free nights, large discounts, special holiday services, or even nannies

Random Budget Tips

  • If you’re spending the holidays without family “party cities” such as Las Vegas or New Orleans during the weeks prior to Thanksgiving and Christmas tend to be much less expensive to fly to and stay at.
  • Look online for a travel cost calculator to give you an idea for the budget you’re looking at so you can plan accordingly.
  • Bring an empty water bottle and after security you can keep re-filling it rather than paying airport prices.
  •  Packing a couple granola bars or a bag of trail mix in your carry-on could end up saving you a good deal of money if there is a flight delay rather than purchasing snacks in-flight.
  •  Don’t forget to look into  traveling by train.  While it may be a longer time spent on travel then you were originally planning it tends to be less expensive and less stressful if you are traveling with small children or elderly family members.  The extra room and freedom of movement can be worth the extra time it takes to get to your destination.
  • The most important thing is to be flexible and to plan ahead.  Flying  a day later or earlier can make for a less expensive trip and the willingness to consider staying at a different resort might land you a free meal plan for your whole party, shop around a bit and try to stay open-minded and you might be surprised how inexpensive your dream vacation is. 

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