There is a ton of car congestion building up during the holiday season, as evident in our Thanksgiving travel recap last week. Sometimes, it is better to fly to your destination rather than brave the heavily-trafficked roads. This can get quite expensive, which is why we turned to guest blogger Shereen Travels Cheap to give us some tips on how to save money during the typically overpriced holiday season.
The holidays are stressful enough, so why make things worse with your holiday travel? By planning ahead, you can save money and frustration. You’ll be genuinely happy to see your family and friends instead of resentful that you had to spend so much to get there.
If you’re worried about getting bumped (who doesn’t?) choose a flight earlier in the day. The first flights out have much lower chance of being delayed, plus many people don’t want to get up at the crack of dawn to go to the airport, making those flights a bit cheaper.
Travel on less desirable days.
Booking your travel during the holiday season is not super affordable, but you can reduce the sting by flying on the least busy days to get the best deals. When demand is low, so are fares. Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Saturdays tend to be less expensive than other days, because the majority of people travel over the weekend. The airport is always packed on Thursdays and Fridays with people getting out of town and then on Sundays and Mondays coming back.
Book as far in advance as possible.
Under normal circumstances, the sweet spot for getting deals on domestic flights is between three and five weeks, but for the holidays, you’ll want to book as soon as you find an airfare deal. The closer to the holiday you get, the higher the airfare will be. There are almost never any last-minute price drops for Thanksgiving, Christmas or New Year’s Eve.
Bring just a carry-on.
Many airlines, especially budget airlines, have upped their baggage fees. Do you really want to pay an extra $40 or more to bring your luggage along? However, fitting everything into a carry-on can be a challenge, especially if you’re also bringing gifts along. Consider small gifts that are easily packable, like gift cards or jewelry. If your gifts are larger, ship them ahead of time, because that might be more affordable than paying the hefty baggage fee. If you choose to bring gifts with you in your carry-on, make sure they are unwrapped, as TSA needs to see what is inside your bag and will open any boxes that are closed if you are chosen for a random bag check. You can purchase wrapping paper, bows or bags once you reach your destination.
If you’re close enough to your destination to drive there, make sure to get a tune-up before embarking on your trip. A car in tip-top shape will get better gas mileage and is less likely to break down. If you are a Metromile pay-per-mile car insurance customer, make sure to use the smart driving app to monitor your car’s health and decode any check engine lights so you know if it’s OK to keep on driving or if you need to pull over. It’s also good to pack a paper map for emergencies and have a list of all important phone numbers and addresses just in case.
Thanks to Shereen’s advice, your holiday travels don’t have to break the bank. If you do decide to leave your car idle during the season, make sure to check out our car storage tips and consider switching to per-mile insurance if you find yourself using more and more alternative transportation methods.