How to travel cheap around Christmas

Arina P. Habich /

A report from travel-booking app Hopper says more than half of Americans plan to travel for Thanksgiving or Christmas — or both — this year, with 70% planning to see family and friends. This holiday season will apparently become more celebratory after living with the pandemic for two years.

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What could spoil the festivities? The cost of airfare, hotels and rental cars. Hopper reported that the combination of Americans’ itching for vacation travel, high jet fuel costs and airlines putting fewer planes in the sky will result in vacation airfares at the highest prices in five years.

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Of those considering booking holiday flights, two-thirds said finding lower prices on airfare was essential.

Even though the calendar has shifted to October and the holidays are approaching, you can find ways to save money on travel around Christmas by following tips shared by experts.

Plan your trip early

If you’re planning to visit family for Thanksgiving or Christmas or take a warm-weather vacation, now is the time to book, travel experts say. Booking your travel plans in October gives you the best chance of saving money.

“The biggest mistake we see is people waiting until the last minute to research and book flights, hotels, car rentals and plan their overall itinerary and all the logistics,” said Tim Hentschel, CEO and co-founder of HotelPlanner. “For a busy holiday weekend like Thanksgiving, if you’re planning to travel, now is the time to make all your arrangements, not in November when availability will be limited and everything will cost more.”

Fly on vacation

If you’re willing to travel for Thanksgiving, Christmas, or New Years, the airline will likely offer you cheaper fares.

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“At the end of the day, the best way to save money on flights over the holidays is to fly on Christmas Day,” said Michael Belmont, owner of The Park Prodigy, an online travel agency dedicated to people. Disney and Universal theme parks. “Most travelers avoid flying that day; thus, to attract more ticket purchases, airlines tend to lower the price of their flights considerably.

“In fact, in my experience, flying on Christmas Day can cost as little as around 40% of the ticket price of a Christmas Eve flight. Travelers who are willing to make the sacrifice of flying on Christmas Day Christmas will end up saving more money than the others.

If you don’t have a long way to go, this strategy can pay off. You can board a plane in Los Angeles at 6 a.m. and arrive in San Francisco in time for Christmas breakfast.

Be flexible

If you’re willing to alter your trip from your planned dates or consider different airports, you can save money, Belmont said.

* When it comes to the holiday season, don’t hesitate once you see a deal you’re comfortable with, as last minute flight deals rarely happen, especially during busy holiday periods “, did he declare. “Be flexible with your travel dates and book an itinerary that will save you money. Even opening up your search an extra day could save you hundreds of dollars.

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“Don’t forget to determine the price of the different airports. Larger city centers will most often have the cheapest flight routes, but smaller airports and airlines will sometimes offer deals.

Use your accumulated rewards

Many people have credit cards that earn rewards, but they don’t redeem them. In fact, results from a LendingTree survey, released in August, indicated that almost 70% of credit card users have unused cash back, points or miles, with 31% having rewards worth $100 or more on their accounts. .

Keri Baugh, family travel blogger at Bon Voyage With Kids, says reviewing your points is a perfect way to save money this holiday season.

“Start by looking for what you can get for free,” she said. “For example, look at the rewards points on your credit card and see if they can be redeemed for gift cards to use for travel – like restaurant gift cards, gift cards, or -gas station gifts. I use Capital One and all of these are available to redeem my rewards points. Capital One also allows you to book travel using your rewards points or clear travel purchases. I often receive hundreds of dollars this way.Also, if you have loyalty programs for a hotel or airline, check to see if you can use them for hotel stays.

Rent a car at the airport

John Newbill, the founder of Maui Rental Cars in Hawaii, recommends not renting a car at the airport and instead booking a car near your hotel.

“One of the best ways for consumers to save money on a rental car during peak holiday weeks is to research off-airport pick-up locations,” he said. he declares. “It will work in almost any major city. …Taking the free shuttle to your hotel and then renting a car from a pick-up point near your hotel can often save hundreds of dollars a week on your car rental.

Use your technology

Judicious use of apps will help you find travel deals while on vacation.

“The Christmas season is the busiest time of year for travel at all levels, from flights to accommodation to other means of transport, so it can be quite difficult to find cheap flights. market,” Belmont said. “However, savvy travelers know there are a few strategies they can use.

“I recommend signing up for price alerts from multiple airlines and travel sites first using flight aggregators like Google Flights and Kayak. If you sign up for alerts now, you’ll receive emails whenever flight prices drop for your itinerary. Flight Alerts are the best way to get discounted fares as soon as they go live.”

Jenna Nye, CEO and co-founder of On the Strip, a Las Vegas-focused travel website, said filters on travel apps can also help you find a deal.

“Most travel blogs and travel apps will offer a budget or cheap accommodation option to help you book accommodation within your budget,” she said. “For example, on our website, we have a budget hotel section where you can find all budget hotels in Las Vegas. [On] other websites, you can determine the price range you are willing to pay for accommodation or even the type of accommodation like hostels, shared rooms, etc., to help you find a cheaper alternative .

Do not travel with Christmas gifts

You want to share holiday gifts with friends and family at your destination, of course. Do not take them with you. That sweater for mom, that bathrobe for dad, and that baseball glove for your brother don’t fit in your carry-on with your stuff, requiring you to pay to check a bag. Why spend $30 to ship your gifts?

If you take advantage of a retailer’s free shipping, have your gifts sent directly to where you’ll be celebrating the holiday. You can take paper and tape there to wrap treats. As for the gifts you receive, sending them home via ground service may be cheaper than checking a bag. Or, your friends and family could always wrap a photo of your gift for you to open and have the store deliver it to your doorstep.

A few simple steps will help you reduce your travel costs. Who doesn’t want to save money at Christmas?

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