Holiday savings guide: 7 ways to save on holiday travel
Year-end holiday travel continues to surge, according to AAA. In fast, last year, estimates reached an all-time high, with more than 98.6 million Americans expected to travel 50 miles or more during the winter holidays.
This was up 4 percent from the previous year.
If you are among the millions of Americans planning to travel this winter, whether you’re heading home or on a vacation during winter break, money may be on the mind. This time of year is already packed with expenses, and adding travel expenses to the mix can add to the financial stress.
Lucky for you, with a few simple moves, you can save big on your holiday travel. Here are some ways:
1. Start now:
If you don’t have your airfare booked yet, get on it right away. Download the Hopper app and let it work its magic. This app constantly checks billions of airfare prices every day and predicts how prices will change, alerting you when it’s the best time to buy to get the lowest price. Hopper claims it can save you 40 percent on your airfare.
2. Be flexible with travel dates:
If you are too late for Hopper or its price analysis looks grim, you can save money by keeping your travel dates flexible. Weekend rates tend to be much higher than mid-week days, such as Wednesday. Late flights tend to be cheaper, too.
And although red-eye may not sound appealing, think of it this way: less traffic, shorter lines, less baggage to sort through. Red-eye flights may save you more than just money; they can be time-savers, too.
3. Never pay full price:
You never have to pay full price for travel costs, including airfare, hotels and rental cars. You can always find different companies through ShopAtHome.com that offer Cash Back, sometimes upwards of 10 percent. This is an effortless way to save money, without additional hours of comparison shopping.
Priceline.com is currently offering 7 percent Cash Back and 40 percent off rental cars. When you’re talking about a $1,000-plus vacation, this kind of Cash Back adds up big.
4. Check out Living Social Escapes:
If you’re looking for a relaxing winter vacation and are flexible about the destination, Living Social offers limited-time special discounts for travel, where you can save 35 to near 70 percent on prices.
Also check for hotel deals near you for a relaxing staycation. Add this to Cash Back (currently up to 4 percent) and you’ve got a hard-to-beat holiday trip.
5. Consider alternative transportation options:
Air travel can get pricy — and be time-consuming, with baggage claim, lines and layovers. Consider other ways of exploration: a road trip, a Greyhound Bus ride or even a train. Rail Europe is offering 2 percent Cash Back right now.
6. Travel last-minute:
The two best ways to score good deals on airfare are to plan far in advance — or procrastinate and go last-minute. LastMinuteTravel.com is one website that specializes in these deals, and it sweetens the offer with Cash Back, too.
7. Forfeit baggage:
It’s a weird world where travelers are expected to travel with no bags and can only carry tiny-sized toiletries, but the truth is, bag fees can be an unexpected cost that really adds up. Instead, get a high-quality carry-on bag and save the cash. Especially if you’re visiting relatives, you can find many of the items you’ll need when you get there. Handle the gift-packing dilemma by wrapping up gift cards or doing your shopping at your destination.
An inexpensive carry-on, like the on-sale TravelPro at Macy’s, can cost less than two-way baggage fees and save you that money every time you travel. TravelPro WalkAbout Two Spinner Carry-on Luggage, $118 (on sale from $280), Macys.com