Money Savings Tips for Holiday Travel

13 November 2018

A father and young son pull a suitcase at a train station

The American Automobile Association (AAA) estimated 97.4 million travelers hit the road or airports between December 23 and January 1, in 2017, making it one of the busiest times of year to travel. The result can be overbooked flights, travel delays, and higher costs. Employ these travel tips to ease the impact on your wallet.

Download Money Saving Travel Apps

The internet offers a fast and convenient way to compare prices and double check the value of a deal you find. A few useful travel apps include the following:

Hotel Tonight specializes in finding hotel discounts with an emphasis on last minute deals. You can book as far as 100 days out, but you save the most the closer you are to your travel dates.

Gas Buddy will show you the lowest price at gas stations throughout the United States. Users input prices they pay at the pump, giving you real-time information. The app also provides cost estimates for your trip and a way to pay through the app.

The app Hopper predicts flight costs for up to a year in advance, with 95% accuracy. Airlines use dynamic pricing, which means you can pay significantly different prices for your flight based on when you book. Identifying the best time to book and the best day and time to fly can ease the cost of flying to your destination.

Save Money on Baggage Fees When Flying

Baggage fees can drive up the cost of flying. In many cases, you will pay between $25 and $50 per bag each way. Prices vary based on the number of bags you bring, and the size and weight of the bags checked. There are several ways to eliminate or reduce these costs.

  1. Fly with a carrier that does not charge baggage fees. Southwest Airlines is the only US carrier to allow passengers, two checked bags without a charge.
  2. Pack light. Avoiding the bag check will typically eliminate baggage fees. However, discount airlines like Sprint and purchasing the economy fare might result in a charge for a carry-on.
  3. Shipping gifts prior to traveling could lighten your load and eliminate baggage fees. You can redirect online orders for delivery at your destination, although some companies do not make the process of redirecting the delivery easy due to fraud concerns.
  4. Use an airline credit card to purchase tickets. Most airlines offer free bags for airline credit card holders and members of their party.

Use Points, Rewards, or Gift Cards to Pay for Travel Costs

Accumulated points on credit cards or travel accounts can reduce the cost of travel. Cash in airline points for free flights, hotel rooms, or a rental car. Most frequent flyer programs do not include fees and offer points towards free rentals or flights after reaching a certain threshold.

Credit cards may also accumulate points, which you can convert into free travel perks or gift cards with partner vendors. You might use points to purchase a gift card at your favorite gas station, rental agency, hotel chain, or restaurant.

Another way to save money is through discounted gift cards found in warehouse clubs like Costco or Sam’s Club or websites such as Raise. You can find gift cards at discounts up to 20% off the face value of the card.

Saving money on holiday travel can free up funds for other costs incurred during the busy holiday season.