With Christmas merchandise popping up everywhere and Thanksgiving in the U.S. almost upon us, it’s safe to say we are more or less in the holiday season. And that means holiday travel is here, aka one of the most expensive times to get to where you want to go.
Let’s say a typical trip somewhere costs you $150 roundtrip. That same place around Thanksgiving or Christmas can easily cost you more than double the normal amount. And you know what? You may just end up paying it because if you don’t, you have to deal with your family that’s expecting you to come, and paying the price may be the better choice of those two options.
That said, there are ways to get around paying an exorbitant amount of money on holiday travel and instead put that money towards other things like gifts for family and holiday drinks (I’m all about the holiday drinks). Here are some of my top tips for saving money on holiday travel:
If you’ve been reading my blog for awhile, you know by now that I’m a planner. That means I started looking at flights for the holidays a loooong time ago. It’s rare that I’ve seen airfare go down as the holidays get closer, only up... sometimes way up. So, I make it a point to book as early as I can once I know my holiday plans. It’s a no-brainer tip but you’d be surprised how many people wait until the last minute and then complain that prices are too high.
Look at Purchasing Two One-Way Tickets Instead of a Roundtrip Ticket
I do this all the time. Sometimes two one-way tickets with two different airlines end up being the better deal than if you had booked a roundtrip ticket with one airline. I suggest playing around with dates and times to see what gets you the most value. On a related note, if you’re going to a place that has multiple airports nearby, you may want to fly into one airport and then fly out of another. Whatever gets you a good value but minimal stress.
See If You Can Work Remotely
In general, I'm a big fan of working remotely, but I think it really comes in handy during the holidays. Sometimes no matter how far in advance you book or whether you book two one-way tickets versus a roundtrip, flying on the Wednesday before Thanksgiving and returning on the Saturday or Sunday after will ALWAYS be expensive. But, if you could fly down earlier or stay later and work remotely a few days before and/or after the holiday, you can save some cash money.
Travel on the Holiday
My family and I have done this several times for Christmas, and more recently, I did this for Thanksgiving two years ago — fly down on the actual holiday. I even flew on New Year’s Eve once (Party in the sky! Just kidding, it was a regular flight). If you can’t work remotely or take a few days off beforehand, you may be better off flying on the actual holiday. I’ve taken the first flight out on Thanksgiving and Christmas, and it’s actually always been an easy experience. Of course there are pros and cons to doing this, but it’s up to you to determine if the pros outweigh the cons.
Look at Alternate Modes of Transportation
This can be hit or miss, but I always think it’s worth looking at alternate modes of transportation, depending on where you’re going. For example, if you’re traveling somewhere that’s accessible by car, train and plane, look at all three options, the cost, how long each will take, the potential stress level of each and then weigh those options. Or, if you’re flying somewhere, there may be a city that’s further away but much less expensive to fly in to. Though, if the price difference is negligible, I think it’s better to just pay the difference and skip the hassle.
Use Those Points and Miles
Y'all know I love my airline points and miles. I collect and spend them all day, er'day (well, almost). I generally don't spend my points and miles for holiday travel, but sometimes that's just your best option. Case in point, a few years ago, I helped my parents and grandmother fly to Jamaica for Christmas and New Year's using only points. We had to snag them way in advance (planner alert), but it worked and saved so much money, which left more to spend on gifts and holiday drinks! Woo!
Wait for the Deal
This tip only works for people who just want to travel during the holidays but don’t have anywhere specific in mind. Sometimes you can find a deal that pops up on Secret Flying or The Flight Deal (two of my favorite resources). I know I’ve seen a few deals pop up around New Year’s Eve that would make for a great last-minute getaway. You have to be flexible about this one and ready to jump at whatever catches your eye. Who knows? It could end up being your best trip!
I’m sure I’m missing some other great holiday travel tips. Let me know in the comments some of your favorite tips!