How to Save Money on Holiday Travel

by Tracy · 1 comment

There’s not a lot you can do about the price of plane tickets and gas, but there are lots of other little ways that you can pinch pennies to save significant amounts while you are traveling.

Travel as lightly as possible. Not only are many airlines now charging for checked bags, overloading your car can reduce fuel efficiency. Take advantage of retailers who offer free shipping and have presents shipped ahead to your destination.

Eat before you get to the airport. Airport food is expensive and your choices are limited. While security rules make it difficult to bring certain foods and drink past the security check points, you can bring empty water bottles to refill at drinking fountains in the concourse.

If you are driving, bring a small cooler and pack snacks and sandwiches. The weather will probably not be conducive to having an outdoor picnic, so make choose foods that are easy to eat in the car without too much mess. For longer trips, going into a restaurant might be a nice break; however you can save by just having coffee and dessert instead of a full meal.

Choose motels/hotels that offer a free continental breakfast. While you don’t want to be that guy or gal who stuffs their bag full of rolls, it’s fine to take an extra piece of fruit to enjoy on the road.

Over the counter medications can be expensive and the selection limited at airports and gas stations so bring a small supply of medications to relieve headaches, allergies, heartburn/indigestion or other common maladies. You’ll also want to be prepared with sanitary products, birth control and diapers and wipes if you’re traveling with kids.

Make sure you understand any roaming charges or other fees your cell phone might incur while you are traveling. This isn’t so much a problem while traveling domestically anymore, but you can get an enormous surprise if you travel overseas.

If you are traveling with children, visit the dollar store before your trip and stock up on inexpensive surprises. You can use these to keep them amused while you travel and to stave off the gimmes at overpriced shops. While it’s not ideal to spoil your children to keep them quiet, travel is stressful for kids and adults and more of a “you gotta do what you gotta do” situation.

Make sure you label all of your expensive gear and gadgets so that they can be easily returned to you if you leave them behind somewhere. If it’s expensive or hard to replace, label it!

Before you travel is a good time to make a list of all your credit card accounts and the numbers to call if they are lost or stolen. This can save you a lot of hassle during a stressful time.

If you are visiting friends and family, talk to them frankly about your need/desire to save money. Perhaps instead of taking them out for a night on the town, you can pay for pizza and a bottle of wine instead. It’s likely that they won’t mind not “living it up” at all. Plus,  it can be more relaxing to stay in and more conducive to catching up.

If you experience problems with the airlines, for example, if you are bumped for a flight or your luggage is lost, be sure to find out what help and reimbursement they are authorized to give you. Be firm but calm and kind and what they are prepared to do to mitigate the effects of their error.

Avoid alcohol while flying. Not only is it expensive, but alcohol can have a much stronger effect on you while flying.  Save the drinks for after you’ve arrived.

Travel safely. Nothing is more expensive than an accident and nothing is more valuable than your health and safety. If you are driving, be sure to allow for plenty of rest breaks. Follow the rules of the road and drive defensively. Pay attention to the weather forecast and be conservative about driving in bad conditions, especially if you’re not experienced with driving in snow or ice.

How do you save money on holiday travel?

Bonus Tip:

Did you know that you can save money with Netflix? Even if you don't plan on using the service, you should at least sign up for the Netflix free trial here to get some free movies for a month.

{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

Karin Utilai November 16, 2010 at 7:30 am

These are very good tips for everybody! I’m sure we all can save a lot of money with these ideas, but we also all know them! We only have to come over our habits! I have also a very good idea to save a lot of money! Try to barter! I bartered my flat in New York for one in L. A.! Everything was fine, the flat was nice and as I came back home there was no mess, no problems.

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