People across the country are looking for ways to save this holiday season. From travelers trekking cross-country to visit Grandma to business professionals flying home for a Thanksgiving meal with family, folks are looking at ways they might be able to cut back on the trimmings this year. Now, it’s possible to travel on little or no money, and this is not to refer to the European backpacking craze at the tail end of the hippie movement. But for real, if you were to answer honestly, you might say that the only thing holding you back from really going for it on travel this year is money.
People, especially those with children, might think that short of working for an airline, travel around the holidays is just too expensive. This just isn’t true. You don’t have to be rich to travel, but if you make it a financial priority in the long-term you will find you are more able to go home for some of mom’s apple pie…and pumpkin pie…and maybe even mincemeat pie.
So how can one save money on travel this Holiday season? Glad you asked! We share three ways to save money on travel expenditures this Holiday season.
Make It About Family
If you’re willing to skimp on gifts a bit this year, this could provide some extra cash you can set aside for flights, hotels, and even car rentals. If family is a priority, make it a priority. Spending time together over Thanksgiving and Christmas, or Hanukkah, is what the season is all about. When our grandparents were kids and their parents were scraping pennies together to make ends meet they relied on their creative skills to pull off a good holiday. That same spirit is in each of us, if we allow ourselves to let go of the “stuff” and refocus on family.
Make It A Financial Priority
Most people don’t start thinking about getting money together to go home for the holidays until the day after Halloween when Starbucks releases their red cups—which is far too early if you ask me! Now, for people who live a couple of states away from their holiday travel destination, this is not so bad. But for those who have to hoof it 3,000 miles to the other coast this adds up. Throw a few kids into the scenario and you have a real money problem!
How much would those tickets cost if you bought them in August? Figure out how much your whole trip is going to cost, divide by twelve and start saving in January. Sure, it’ll be a drain on your monthly income, but it’s better than all the interest you’ll be paying if you put it on a card because you don’t have the money. And about cards, use a credit card that has travel benefits for airlines, hotels, or rental cars. Use it for all your regular purchases and pay it off each month. This will also help make a dent in overall travel costs over the holidays.
Make Yourself Flexible
Is hosting everyone at your place a possibility this year? Sometimes a break from tradition and a squeeze into a tight space is just what a family needs. Be willing to step up and put your host hat on if need be—it couldn’t hurt to offer. If your final destination is not incredibly far away, there might be bus services available. The mid-Atlantic and Northeast have amazing bus services offering riders flash deals for $1 on many routes. This is not your grandpa’s Greyhound either! These buses usually have power outlets and free Wi-Fi, so check it out.
Scratch the hotel and stay with family or friends. Nobody says you MUST stay in a hotel except perhaps for your own privacy. If couching it or staying in a spare room is an option, then ask. Asking the question might feel awkward if this is a break from the norm for you, but asking could save you a lot of money. From an economics standpoint, that awkward question has the potential to be worth hundreds of dollars, so give it a shot.
The most important thing you can do if you want to save money this holiday season is to be flexible. Be willing to change that picture in your head of what everything is supposed to look like.
What are some of the ways you and your family save money on travel expenses over the Holidays? Please share your tips and advice with our readers in the comments section below.