Pretty much everyone needs to travel around the holidays, right? Traveling around the holidays doesn’t need to be expensive (unless you really, really, REALLY want to head somewhere warm for Christmas. That’s on you, bro). So let’s talk about ways you can save money on holiday travel this year.
AAA reported last year that 107.3 million Americans will travel 50 miles or more during the holiday season from December 23 through January 1, and I would expect to see similar numbers this year.
These tried and true strategies will help you save money on holiday travel. If any of these ideas help you, please let me know! I’d love to hear from you!
1. FLY ON THE ACTUAL HOLIDAY
If possible, book your travel on the holiday itself. Airlines know that people want to travel the day before the holiday and return home on the Saturday or Sunday following the holiday, so they raise the prices to meet demand. If you’re able to be flexible with your travel and fly the day of, say, Thanksgiving, you will save hundreds of dollars per flight. This really adds up if you’re traveling as a couple or a family!
For example, I ran a Google Flights search from Boston to Orlando for Wednesday, Nov. 21 (the day before Thanksgiving) to Sunday, Nov. 25. It was $483 per person round trip.
The same search ran on Thanksgiving Day and returning the same Sunday brought back a price of $328. Not a bad savings for waiting just a day!
The same savings can be found at Christmas, too. Try flight combinations leaving on Christmas Eve or Christmas Day to save a bundle.
I know it’s not ideal to travel on the holiday. But hopefully you can get some great deals on early morning flights so you’re with family by the time the turkey is carved. And if you’re flexible on the dates you can fly in and out (for example, can you fly the Monday or Tuesday after the holiday instead?), you can save a good chunk of change.
Her are a few screen shots of my Google Search. I’d recommend playing with dates also checking Skyscanner and Momondo.
Flight search the day before Thanksgiving:
Flight search on Thanksgiving Day:
2. PACK LIGHT
Try to pack as light as possible so you can snag those economy fares. Most likely you’re going to a place with family who would hopefully let you use their laundry machines. If you can just pack your belongings into a big backpack or carry on you can save on bags fees and save money on holiday travel that way.
A good rule of thumb is pack your bag then take away half. You don’t need all those clothes and shoes anyway! You know you’re just gonna hang out in fuzzy jammies the whole time anyway.
I know you’re saying — “but what about my GIFTS?” That’s what Amazon / online shopping is for y’all. Hey, that’s a free tip right there. Send gifts in advance. Genius!
Actual pic of you strolling towards the airport (?) but you have a super cute personal item!
3. SIGN UP FOR TRAVEL DEAL SITES
Sometimes I think my email inbox will overflow with all of the travel newsletters I am signed up for. But I’ve gotten some great deals on flights, and the specialized information they research can definitely help you save money on holiday travel.
Here are a few of my favorite email newsletters:
-sign up for emails from airlines directly. Southwest, Spirit, JetBlue, Amtrak, and others frequently send out discounts and deals with regularity
–Scott’s Cheap Flights is an infinite resource for deals. You can customize which cities you’d prefer to travel from and only get results from those destinations. There’s a free and paid version of the service
Rendered screenshot of my inbox. And soon, yours!
4. SIGN UP FOR GAS REWARDS
Maybe you’re not a flyer. Maybe you only need to drive a short (or long) way. In any case, if you’re driving over the holidays consider signing up for one of the many gas loyalty rewards programs out there.
Speedway, Shell, BP Exxon Mobil, Safeway, Kroger, Stop & Shop, BJs, Costco, and more all offer gas rewards programs. You can usually save 10 cents or more just by scanning in your rewards card. You can often stack deals, which can quickly add up to big savings if you’re taking a long road trip.
5. THINK OUTSIDE THE BOX
Sometimes thinking outside the box could help you save money on holiday travel. Maybe you could spend Thanksgiving abroad and Christmas or Hanukkah at home? Thanksgiving is not a holiday in any other country in the world, so hotel and flight prices are still reasonable! Theoretically, a flight abroad could be cheaper than flying in North America since airlines know when to hike up fares.
For example, my sister and I hopped on a flight deal from NYC to Copenhagen leaving the day after Thanksgiving round-trip for $320. We’re planning on checking out their excellent Christmas markets and hygge. Much better than laying around all weekend!
However, I would not recommend traveling abroad at Christmas if you’re trying to save money on holiday travel. Hotels and airlines take advantage of the fact that there are lots of international travelers at that time and raise rates accordingly.
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