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Your Financial Life
By Jackie Lam / Dec 11, 2015

6 Ways to Save on Holiday Travel

save holiday travel

Let’s face it: The storybook version of the holidays is an idyllic time filled with cheer and festive gatherings with loved ones. The reality? All of the merriment can really take a toll on your budget.

When it comes to travel, trying to make arrangements without breaking the bank can have you facepalming with an oh no instead of a ho ho ho. So why not make your life a little easier? Here are six simple things you can do to save money on holiday travel.

1. Book Early.

When it comes to travel deals, the early bird gets the worm. So when should you buy your plane tickets? Studies show that you’ll score the best deals for airfare if you book 47 days before you fly. If you’re traveling with family, check which airlines offer a discount rate for children and students.

2. Fly on the Actual Holiday.

Flights the day before Thanksgiving and Christmas are highly popular and as a result will be pricier. Flying the day of the holiday will not only save you money, but will spare you from painfully long lines at the airport.

3. Pack Your Own Food.

Bringing your own food for the duration of the flight will stave off hunger pangs and keep you from splurging on airline-priced meals and drinks. Extra snacking during travel can add up quickly. Although there are technically no restrictions as to how much food you can take with you on board, just note that the standard TSA carry-on limitations and restrictions on liquid items will still apply.

4. Use Your Travel Rewards.

If you’ve been racking up mileage points, it’s a great time to use them on holiday travel. Check to see when your rewards points expire and make sure you redeem them before the expiration date. Also it’s a good idea to check when the date of expiration is, so that you book your flights in time.

5. Take the Scenic Route.

If your schedule permits, instead of flying consider taking a bus, train, or driving to your destination. While it may take a little longer, you might be able to use that precious time to decompress from the holiday rush. If flying is still your best mode of transport, look into booking flights at alternative airports.

6. Ship Your Gifts.

Part of the joy of online shopping is that you can ship your gifts directly. If you start early enough, you can look for free shipping deals from your favorite online stores. This will help you save on baggage fees and the hassle of bringing more than you need to. Also, don’t overlook gift cards. Some retailers offer the option of emailing gift cards.

With the holidays fast approaching, keeping these simple steps in mind will help you stave off the stress of holiday travel while keeping you from overextending your finances.

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