More people travel over Thanksgiving than any other time of year. Before you hit the road or take to the skies, here are 10 tips to help save on holiday travel.
Want to save on holiday travel this year? First Financial Security shares 10 sure-fire tips to save money this season.
Did you know that Thanksgiving is one of the most traveled holidays of the year? For many Americans, there’s no other way to spend the holidays than with loved ones.
In earlier generations, it was as easy as walking your covered dish across the street. Today, many families are divided among cities, states, and even countries. In 2015, 46 million people battled long lines, flight delays, and bumper-to-bumper traffic, all for the reward of feasting with family and friends.
So, how do we avoid paying a premium for sitting at Grandma’s table? It’s never too early to start planning your holiday travel. Here are 10 tips to help you head over the river and through the woods this holiday season:
- Leverage social media. If you’re flying, set sale notification alerts from your preferred airline. “Like” their Facebook page and follow them on Twitter. Many times reduced rates and specials will be advertised on social media before they’re published elsewhere.
- Look for opportunities. Do you travel throughout the year? If you have the flexibility, think about volunteering your seat when a flight is overbooked. The airlines can offer anything from points, to cash, to free flights. All of which may come in handy around the holidays.
- Take advantage of points. Use a credit card, offering points that can be exchanged for airline tickets or free nights at a hotel. These points can add up quickly, especially if you take advantage of the double-point categories. Just be sure to be responsible with your spending and pay cards off at month’s end.
- Don’t wait. Waiting until the last minute to find the best deal will almost always backfire. The closer you get to your departure date, the fewer seats available. Find a reasonable rate and make your reservation!
- Choose your travel dates wisely. According to Travelocity, the least expensive departure days will be Sunday, Monday and Thursday (Thanksgiving Day). Cheapest return flights are on Friday and the following Tuesday.
- Avoid smaller airports. Choose larger airports where airfare rates are more competitive. They are almost non-existent, at smaller regional airports. Price alternate airports that may not be your first choice but could get your there without any major disruption. Would it be that inconvenient to fly into Oakland instead of San Francisco, or Newark instead of JFK? It may be worth consideration.
- Price all of your seating options. If you’re traveling with a companion, price your seats together and then again separately. Oddly enough, there may be a price difference. You may be able to sit together by changing your seats at check-in, or by finding someone willing to switch. But, you also run the risk of having to keep your originally assigned seats.
- Travel light. Skip the checked bag and travel light. Wear your bulkiest item and dress in layers. Chances are the temperature on the plane will be cool anyway. You’ll save money by avoiding the baggage fee, the chance of lost luggage, or the crowd at baggage claim.
- Drive. Driving your own car to your destination offers you flexibility during your trip and freedom while you’re there. To find the least expensive gas along your route, use an app like GasBuddy. It will show prices at gas stations close to your current location.
- Take a train or a bus. Traveling by train or bus can be more enjoyable than driving and there are generous discounts for children. On Amtrak, up to two kids, ages 2-12, can travel for half-price with each passenger who pays the adult fare. Infants, under age 2, ride free. Seniors are eligible for a 15% discount on the lowest available rail fares. There are also additional discounts for AAA members. On Greyhound, up to two children, ages 2-11 who are travelling with an adult, are eligible for a 20% discount.
Thanksgiving may be the busiest travel time of the year, but it doesn’t have to be the most expensive, too. There are ways to manage expenses and work within a budget. Carve out time to do your research, be sure to compare prices, and be flexible with your options. You’ll be grateful for time spent with family and thankful that you didn’t break the bank to get there!