In addition to being stressful, traveling during the holidays can also be quite pricey. Whether it’s by plane, train or car, getting to your holiday destination can result in expensive ticket purchases, gas bills and hotel accommodations. In order to help you get the biggest bang for your holiday buck, we spoke with experts and avid travelers to learn their best holiday travel tips.
Be flexible with lodging options.
You don’t need to stay at the Hilton, says Madeline Boughton. “You pay so much more when you look for the name-brand. A mom and pop hotel is sufficient.”
“Granola bars, juice boxes, sodas, pre-washed fruit, candy, chips…the savings can really add up if you normally buy a snack every time you stop for gas or have a layover,” Abbie Unger explains.
“Always book online so you can save money with online coupon codes,” Jon Lal of BeFrugal.com suggests. Booking online also helps you avoid the costs that may be associated with booking over the phone.
Consider traveling on the holiday.
Madeline Boughton suggests, “You can spend the morning at your destination and the evening returning home. Travel is less expensive on the actual day of holiday.”
Make friends with the keeper of the apple juice.
“A lot of times the flight attendant will give you an unopened can of juice and some extra snacks for the road it you ask her nicely,” Abbie Unger notes.
Watch out for add-on fees.
Jon Lal notes, “Each airline has different fees for add-ons, so look before booking to avoid any potential fees. There is an Airline Fees Chart provided by Kayak.com and an Airline Fees Guide created by Smarter Travel.”
Pack light with gift cards.
“Some airlines charge you for each bag you pack, so if you are traveling by plane, consider giving gift cards or other small items as gifts,” Cathi Brese Doebler suggests. “This will help you avoid having to travel with large gifts that can take up luggage space and add to your luggage transport costs.”
Check out nearby airports.
“Don’t rule out flying from a different airport if there is an alternative airport nearby,” Jon Lal suggests. “For example, flights from Buffalo, NY can be compared to Toronto (where international flights can be cheaper as well as shorter) and Rochester, NY.”
Room with friends, family or strangers!
Harrine Freeman, CEO/Owner of H.E. Freeman Enterprises, suggests, “Stay with friends or relatives to save money on hotel costs.” If you can’t stay with friends or family, you can “stay with strangers by using a service called Couch Surfing that allows people to open their homes to strangers who are traveling and need a couch to sleep on.” Just be sure to do your due diligence and put safety first.
Determine your best mode of transport.
“Determine whether flying is the smartest travel mode,” Jon Lal says. “The free Fly or Drive Calculator is an online tool that can help compare the total cost and travel time of any trip for both driving and flying.”