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How to Save Money on Holiday Travel

This year has brought a tough economic climate, including high inflation and a less stable employment market. Despite higher prices on everything from flying to buying snacks, many people still want to travel in possible record numbers this holiday season. Just because you want to go home for the holidays doesn’t mean you have to break the bank. Here are the five best ways you can save money on your holiday travel this year: 

Create a Budget and Use Your Savings

The best thing you can do is to set aside a budget of money from your savings that you’re going to travel on. Then as you’re booking a flight or hotel or deciding where to eat while you’re visiting, you won’t go over your budget. This also ensures that the trip is paid for in full, so you won’t have to worry about paying interest charges on a credit card because you can’t afford to pay back the amount you splurged on. 

Using the right savings account throughout the year can help you earn the right amount of money to help you make your overall travel more affordable. 

Be Flexible With Your Travel Dates

We all celebrate the same holidays on the same days this time of year. That means many people are trying to travel on certain days to be at their destination in time for the holiday and limit the time away from work they have to take. Unfortunately, the airlines and hotels know when these dates are, and their prices tend to increase during those windows. 

If you can afford to be flexible, especially if you work from home, consider going to your destination earlier than expected or staying later. By traveling on non-peak days, you’ll be able to save money on airline tickets because the demand will be lower than they are the day before a big holiday or the Monday after. 

Drive to Your Destination 

If you want to save some money, consider driving home for the holidays instead of flying. This will take more time to travel, depending on where you live and where you’re traveling, but it could save you a lot of money. You can take your own car, and your only expense will be gas and possibly whatever snacks you buy on the trip. 

Keep in mind, however, that while gas prices have declined in recent months, they are still high. You should consider checking the gas prices along the route you plan on taking to see how expensive it will be. Some states’ gas prices are much higher than others, and you don’t want your travel budget thrown off. 

Book in Advance

If you’re going to need to stay in a hotel or take a flight, you’ll want to make sure you book your trip as far in advance as possible. The earlier you book, the cheaper these things typically are. The closer you get to the time you need to book, the more expensive hotels and airlines usually make it. This is because the demand increases the closer you get to your day of travel while the supply decreases. 

If you work with a travel agent, they can typically help you gauge when the best time to buy your tickets will be so that you can prepare accordingly. Some will even wait until the tickets hit your desired price and snatch them up for you. 

Use the Right Credit Card

You can earn a lot of rewards by booking your travel expenses on your credit card if you have the right credit card. Whether you earn points or cash back, if you book all of your travel on your card and then pay it off immediately, you could earn these rewards that you can use at your destination during the holidays. 

All of the major credit card companies offer card options that provide rewards that are specific to travel. Whether you receive points to a particular airline or bonus cash/points for using the card to buy airline tickets and/or hotel reservations, you can earn more by using your card. Find the right card before traveling to maximize your reward and get cash back on your holiday travel. 

Bonus: Don’t Cash in Your Points for Airline Tickets During the Holidays

A bonus tip that won’t save you actual cash during the holidays but will help you long-term is to not cash in your points on a ticket to travel during the holiday season. When tickets increase in price, the cash-in costs also go up. That means you’ll be spending more of your points to get a ticket during the holidays than you will if you use those points to travel next year. Using these points can be an excellent last resort, but it maximizes the benefit at a later date. 

Bottom Line

Even though prices are high this year, and especially during this time of year, you can still travel at a discount by using the tips above. The most important thing is to be mindful of the money you’re spending to travel and make sure you think about how you can reduce those costs by planning ahead or making plans that differ from the majority of people.