By Cyndi Cohen Published November 7, 2012 Credit Unions Online
Are you planning to hit the road, or the sky, this holiday season? Are you worried that the cost and hassle of seasonal travels will put a dent in your holiday budget and a frown on your festive face? By planning ahead and following some simple steps, you can take the worry out of your holiday journeys. Travel for less – less money and less stress -- during the fall and winter months.
5 Tips for Money-Smart, Stress-Free Holiday Travel
Book It Now!
Once you decide on your holiday destination and your method of travel, start making the actual arrangements as soon as you can. The earlier you book your flights, buy train tickets, or line up a rental car, the better. Travel fares and related expenses will be cheaper, the earlier they are booked plus you will feel more at ease knowing that your plans have been made.
Sites like the Bing price predictor can help you determine how travel prices are expected to fluctuate and the best time to buy your tickets. There are also a plethora of good online travel sites to help you make your plans and get the best deals out there. Once plans are set, you can focus all of that energy on holiday shopping with the money you saved getting great travel deals.
Have Some Suitcase Savvy
When packing for holiday trips, go the minimalist route so you won’t get nabbed with overweight baggage fees. After packing, you can weigh your suitcase at home to ensure that it’s within the safe weight range. Another smart way to avoid fees at the airport is by registering checked bags online. And, if you can, take flight with nothing but a carry-on for more efficient and cheaper air travel.
Also, save some room in your suitcase or carry-on for gift wrapping supplies like paper, gift bags, and scotch tape. Rather than wrapping gifts ahead of time, which may be unwrapped in a security inspection at the airport due to heightened safety checks during the holidays, be prepared to wrap when you land.
Happy Holiday Flights
Another method that many people might not think about or consider, but that can likely get you an awesome travel deal, is travelling on the day of the actual holiday. This goes for Thanksgiving as well as Christmas. Flights scheduled for the morning of the holiday may be significantly less expensive than those set to take off a day or two before. Although some would say you’re “cutting it close” in terms of being home for the holidays, you may be saving a bundle while still being there in time to celebrate with family and friends.
And remember, no matter what holiday travel day you choose, leave home early enough and allow plenty of extra time for traffic, long check-in lines, and security checks. All of your well thought out planning and money-saving efforts or will be for naught if you miss your flight, train, or bus.
By Air, By Land, or By Sea?
When planning your holiday travels, don’t forget that there are other forms of transportation out there besides the airlines. And with the cost of a plane ticket being on the higher end, driving your car or taking a train or bus may be cost effective travel options that fit your holiday agenda as well as your pocketbook. Although you may have to deal with traffic on the ground, you won’t have to worry about possible flight delays and the other time consuming aspects of air travel like long lines and baggage check-ins.
Perks and Upgrades
With some effort and a bit of basic travel knowledge and online savvy, you can become your own holiday travel agent, scoping out some great offers and taking advantage of hidden perks. For example, use your current travel status or frequent flier miles to cash in on a free flight or an upgraded seat. If visiting a hotel or resort, ask if they offer special discounts or credits for members or kids. It never hurts to ask and you may be pleasantly surprised.
Whether you’re travelling to a sunny beach, hitting the snow-covered slopes, checking out the newest family theme park, or making your way to the comfort of a loved one’s home this holiday season, you can travel with ease by sticking with a few easy suggestions that will help you save money and stay calm. Make this year’s holiday trip one to remember instead of one you’d rather forget. Happy holidays and safe travels this season!