Thanksgiving is here, and that means holiday travel season is upon us! One of the most stressful things about holiday travel can be the cost associated with it. Don’t worry, there are plenty of things you can do while planning your holiday travel that will help you get to where you want to go without breaking the bank.

Plan Ahead

shutterstock_380400826

A good way to start the money saving process is to plan ahead. Figure out what days you can take off from work around the holidays and how long you can stay in your destination. This will give you some flexibility when choosing your departure and return dates and allow you time to be a savvy fare and lodging shopper. Another thing to consider is that flights tend to be cheaper when you travel on the actual holiday itself. At first glance, a Thanksgiving morning red eye may not sound like the most appealing option, but it could save you hundreds of dollars. You may also want to consider secondary or smaller airport locations near your destination. Sometimes it can be less expensive to fly into a different airport within the same or a nearby city. More people tend to travel around the holidays, so planning in advance is the best way to get the flight patterns you want at the price you need.

Travel Light

shutterstock_415389760

Most airlines charge for checked baggage these days. One way to avoid these extra costs is to limit yourself to a carry-on bag and a personal item (which are both free for most airlines). Avoid over-packing by thinking through each day of the trip and packing exactly what you’ll need. Will you be able to do laundry where you’re staying? Even better. Wearing your coat and boots on the flight can save precious room in your carry-on bag. Only bringing a carry-on will also save you time at the airport, since you can check in online and avoid the baggage counter altogether. If you are checking bags, be sure to purchase them online before the day of the flight to get the best price. If you need to transport holiday gifts to your destination, consider mailing them ahead of time instead of checking (and paying for) an extra bag.

Pack Your Own Snacks

shutterstock_284373710

If you ever review your expenses after a trip, you might be shocked by how much you spend on food and beverages at airport terminals (and on airplanes when you get hungry mid-flight). One way to avoid this is to visit the grocery store the day before you leave and stock up on tasty treats for the airport and on the flight. (Remember that you’ll have to jettison liquids over 3.4 oz before you go through security, so it’s best to purchase your beverages at the terminal.) A word of advice if you’re anything like us: Pack more snacks than you think you’ll need.

RELATED: 7 Little-Known Ways to Save on Your Next Flight

Be Flexible with Your Travel Dates

When it comes to finding the very best deals on Cyber Monday, flexibility is key. The more stringent that you are on your travel dates and times, the fewer options that you will have to save money. Airlines have a fine-tuned formula that assists them in pricing their seats to fetch top-dollar. This formula is based on pricing seats lower when there is not as much demand. Conversely, airlines know that they can set higher fares during the busy travel times of the week. By being flexible and willing to travel during the less busy times, you will also enjoy the rock-bottom prices. In addition to being flexible with your travel dates, try looking at a few different destinations to see if you can find better prices.

Consider Booking a Red-Eye Flight

While it may not be the best night of sleep during your trip, there are loads of advantages to booking a red-eye flight. Because many travelers avoid this type of flight, they are often priced lower than the majority of schedules. Red-eye flights also cost less money to operate, meaning this savings is passed on to the consumer. With so many passengers asleep for the great majority of the flight, the airlines can get away with bringing on fewer crew members. You can make this travel experience as comfortable as possible by packing some sleep essentials in your carry-on bag. Good ideas include earplugs, a travel pillow, and an eye mask. As a bonus, you will also save cash on hotel accommodations for the night, saving you money on your overall travel budget.

Think About Mixing and Matching Airlines

Many airline passengers make the mistake of having a laser focus on using just one airline for the entirety of the trip. While this may be slightly more convenient, it is generally not worth the extra money that it may cost you in the long run. Instead, consider pricing your travel out using a hodgepodge of airlines to arrive at your final itinerary. For example, you may find that using one airline to get to your destination and another airline to fly home will deliver significant cost savings than sticking with the same provider for both legs. The savings provided by mixing and matching your airlines are even more evident when traveling on long-haul flights. There are a number of travel aggregators that can help you to price out different flights using a mix and match approach, making it easy to see all of your options on one screen.

Get a Travel Rewards Credit Card

Discover what many seasoned travelers already know when you sign up for a dedicated travel rewards credit card. The best way to leverage this power is to find a card that offers a generous sign-up bonus. Be sure to enroll during a time in which the airline is offering their top amount of miles or points. It is also important to consider your spending habits when choosing your credit card. Finding a card affiliated with an airline that you prefer to fly will yield even more benefits. If you are committed to using this credit card for everyday purchases and paying it off in time, you can really rack up the free flights over time. Be sure to read all of the fine print before signing on the dotted line.

Do you have any tried and true tips when it comes to saving money on holiday travel? Let us know in the comments section!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

About The Author

An insatiable foodie, art collector, and international literature aficionado, I have traveled throughout Europe, Asia, the U.S. and Canada. For the past fifteen years, I have written about my adventures for various travel and literary publications. I am the owner of Lucidité Writing (www.luciditewriting.com) and Bouchard Design Co.