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6 Tips for Saving Money while Traveling for the Holidays

Posted on December 4, 2019

It’s the most wonderful time of the year! The lights, the snow, presents, and spending time with family, it’s all very special. When many people think of the holidays, it’s fond memories of spending time with those they love the most.

The downside of the holidays though, is that traveling for the holidays can be stressful, expensive, and even a down-right nightmare. We got some tips together on great ways to save money this year while traveling home for the holidays.

Saving Money on Flights

woman holding a phone and looking out airplane windowFlying home for the holidays can get very expensive, especially for a whole family. Whether it’s flying to a neighboring state or across the world, plane tickets can cost some serious money.

One of the best ways to save money on tickets is to be very flexible when you are flying. Traditionally, Wednesday is the cheapest day to fly, but holidays like Christmas and New Years Day can throw that off. Play around with the dates and see when you’ll be saving the most money. Demand for a few days before Christmas and a few days after can get very high, meaning higher prices.

You should also buy tickets in advance, but not too early. The golden range for buying cheaper tickets is around 95 days on average. The absolute worst time is 0-14 days before the flight.

As you shop around for tickets, go into your web browsers and delete your cookies. Travel and airline websites track how often you visit the site and will adjust prices the more you visit. Don’t forget to delete the cookies off your mobile browser too.

Finally, be aware of any policies or rules the airline has. Each one has their own rules and costs for luggage, including carry ons, and other similar items. A carry on that is too large or too heavy could lead to extra expenses you’ll have to pay.

Skip Eating Out While Traveling

women eating food at a fancy tableWhether driving across the country or flying home, you have to know what you are going to do about food. Especially for a long road trip, eating out every meal can get very expensive. Rather than blowing hundreds of dollars feeding your family fast food, make a plan to avoid the drive-thru. Pack up sandwiches, fill a cooler with food you can prepare on the road, and make stops at grocery stores to replenish your supplies.

Eating while flying is a different matter. Eating before heading to the airport is a good choice to limit snacking or needing to buy a meal, but it's not always possible. You might have a flight planned first thing in the morning, but get delayed until the last flight of the day. That means having to eat food in the airport. If you really want to save money, you can shop around to see what’s to eat at the airport and which will dent your wallet the least.

Package Deals Can Help You Save Big

If you are flying and need a place to stay, hotel+flight package deals can get you a hefty discount on both expenses. Some airlines offer package deals with specific hotels, while some third party sites can offer a wider selection. These deals sometimes can include a rental car too if that’s something you need. You can save a good chunk of money if you find the right package deal for your situation.

If you are interested in a package deal, do your due diligence and make sure it is actually cheaper. The package deal might seem like a good price, but other hotels in the area might be running a discount or deal, or just flat out less expensive.

Look for Alternative Solutions

train going through a mountain pathThe traditional means to travel is to take a plane, get a hotel, and rent a car, but that isn’t the only way to travel now. With a lot more options, it’s possible to save money on your travels without a ton of inconvenience.

For example, if they only reason you need to rent a car is to get to your destination from the airport, it might be cheaper to get an Uber. Rather than staying at a hotel, an AirBnB could be a better accommodation.

Even how you travel has alternatives. Depending on your destination, look into taking a train, bus, or carpool in order to save some money. These can save huge amounts of money compared to flying, but at the cost of some extra time.

Just be sure the solution you chose is safe and not a scam. The traditional methods have more security and protection, but newer solutions don’t have those. Your AirBnB might not look like its photos, the Uber driver might leave you stranded, and other things can go wrong.

Have a Plan for When Your Travels Go Wrong

Flights get missed, roads get shut down, cars break down and hotel reservations get mysteriously cancelled. While traveling, a hundred different things could go wrong, throwing your whole trip into chaos! Choices made in a panic are often very expensive and sometimes the wrong choice.

Especially if you are driving in winter conditions, make preparations for if something goes wrong. Research a few places on your drive where you can safely stop and stay the night if necessary. Have your route planned out, but also know backup routes. Make sure your spare tire is ready in case of a flat, and that you have the tools necessary to change a tire.

Use Your Credit Card Points

A very popular method to saving up for big trips is to utilize credit card rewards. Many credit cards specialize in airline miles, free nights at hotels, and other aspects of travel. If you’ve been using these kinds of credit cards throughout the year, now is the time to redeem them. Check to see what your points or miles are at and see how much they can save you. If you do plan on redeeming points, the earlier you do it, the better. Many programs have black out dates or limited availability, especially around the holidays.

If you have a Pioneer debit and credit card, you’re earning points every time you use it. You can redeem these points for a variety of things, but importantly, you can spend them on airline tickets, theme parks, experiences, or just cold hard cash. To view and redeem your points, log in to your myPioneer account, click on Additional Services, then PFCU Visa Rewards!

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