The holiday season is one of the busiest travel times of the year—and for good reason.
With the kids out of school, the holidays are the perfect time to pack up and visit family across the country or see that destination you’ve been waiting to check off your bucket list.
However, many people avoid making travel plans at this time of year because it’s just too expensive. Check out these 12 tips for making travel more affordable this holiday season.
1. Never Check a Bag Again
Flights are already one of the most expensive parts of any trip. Checking bags can quickly get pricey, as many airlines charge upwards of $25-50 per bag. Luckily, you can easily avoid this expense with carry-on bags.
Carry-on bags are smaller than checked bags, but you can easily fit a week’s worth of clothing in a good one. But, you need to be realistic about your wardrobe needs. Pack one outfit for each day of your trip, and only bring the essentials. Remember, if you don’t wear it at home, then you probably won’t wear it on your trip either.
Away and iFLY offer great options for carry-on luggage. These pieces will keep your clothing safe and compact, and they are made to fit in overhead airplane bins. Plus, they are stylish, high-quality bags at very reasonable prices.
2. Take the Earliest Flights
Picking the right flight can be daunting. There are many theories on how to get the best deal, but a hard and fast rule is that the earliest flights are the cheapest.
3. Bring a Reusable Water Bottle
Bottled water is expensive, but necessary to avoid dehydration during travel. Yet, in airports and hotels, you can pay several dollars per bottle. By bringing a reusable water bottle, you will save a surprising amount of money on your trip. Just make sure the bottle is empty when you go through TSA at the airport.
4. Cook your Own Meals
Eating out is expensive. Especially when you are traveling with your family, eating at a restaurant for every meal will quickly add up. Cooking your own meals is one great way to save money.
Many hotels offer options for rooms with kitchenettes. Airbnb and Vrbo are also extremely popular lodging options. They are typically cheaper than hotel rooms, and they are more spacious if you get the whole house. Plus, they will have a kitchen in them, perfect for cooking your own meals.
5. Avoid Pricey Rideshares
Rideshare programs work by hiking up their fares during “surge” times, like dinner time or late in the evening when people are going out. Instead of taking an Uber or Lyft to dinner, consider biking or walking, which is the best way to see a new city anyway.
Many cities have bike share programs where you can pay a few bucks to rent a bike for an hour. Better yet, if you’re staying in a city, pick a restaurant within walking distance of where you are staying.
6. Road Trip
If you are traveling with your family, then pack up and hit the open road. For solo travelers going long distances, flights can sometimes be cheaper than driving. However, choosing to drive with the whole family instead of flying is one great way to save money.
Road trips are a fun way to see new sights that you would miss by flying. Especially if your destination is within a day’s worth of driving, then road tripping is a great option. Pro tip: pack snacks and drinks from the store ahead of time to avoid having to buy pricey snacks at convenience stores while on the road.
More Quick Tips:
7. Pick a hotel outside of town or the city center to get a better rate.
8. Pack a medicine bag; medicines at pharmacies can be expensive.
9. Consider a house swap; talk to someone you know who wants to visit your city and work out the details.
10. If you’re traveling abroad and need to exchange currency, try your local bank first. Avoid the exchange at airports as you’ll end up paying large fees.
11. Purchase a local SIM card once you arrive at your international destination to avoid huge connectivity fees.
12. Consider booking a hotel room on the club level which might be a little more expensive; however, they typically offer at least two meals per day (breakfast and light hors d’oeuvres at happy hour in the evening).
To learn more, check out travel blogger Anna Mills’ book 100 Ways to Make Travel More Affordable.
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Cover photo courtesy Guilherme Stecanella