Save Money and Your Sanity While Holiday Traveling

by Emily on November 29, 2011

With the holiday season upon us many people are traveling to see family and friends. Traveling during the holidays can be expensive. Whether you are flying, driving or taking public transportation you can still save money and see your loved ones by following these tips.

If you are driving during holiday time, if possible make sure to plan ahead and leave at times where there is not a lot of traffic. Sitting in your car and being stuck and traffic costs you time that you could be spending with your loved ones and money. Your time is valuable and you do not need to spend it sitting in traffic. If you do not have a car or if you do not particularly feel like driving consider public transportation, this allows you the option of being productive during your travel time. You can catch up on schoolwork, office work, emails, gossip and sports websites or even reading a novel while traveling. You can take a train to your destination. Amtrak offers lots of options for traveling during the holidays. If you book in advance you can get discounts through AAA, student discounts, military and government employee discounts. You could also consider taking a bus for your travel plans. Throughout the east coast there are very cheap buses that take you to major cities. Two of the best companies are Bolt bus and Megabus. Both of these offer very low fares to travel from city to city. These buses also have WiFi on them, so you can get work done on your laptop, smart phone, or iPad, or just browse the internet at your leisure. In other cities you can always take Greyhound buses, which I have found to be cheap and reliable. You can combine travel options and take a train to the bus stop and then continue on your journey, while being cost effective. Be sure to book in advance as the seats on the bus do fill up especially around the holiday time. Taking public transportation will get you to your destination without the possible stresses of driving.

If you choose to drive to get to your destination, make sure your car is prepared and ready. If you are going to a location that may have snow and wintery conditions be sure to check the weather before you drive. Make sure your wipers, tires, breaks and the like are prepared for weather conditions you may have to drive through. Make sure your car is in tip top shape to make the drive and that no maintenance is required before you make the trip.  Pack water and snacks in your car so you do not have to stop on the way, delaying your journey.

While traveling this holiday season make sure you pack light to save yourself money.  If you are driving and you bog down your car with a ton of suitcases and other assorted items with a lot of weight, you are using more gas than you would without all the luggage in the car.  Keeping your car light will help improve gas efficiency on the road.  If you are traveling via plane, before you book your ticket make sure you know what the airlines policy is on the cost of baggage. Some airlines charge for the first bag, some let the first bag fly free. Others charge fees for additional bags and if your bag is over 50 pounds there is typically a fee for that too. Weigh your suitcase at home before your flight in order to not be charged an oversized bag fee. If possible, try to just carry on your luggage so you can get in and out of the airport quickly and see your loved ones sooner.

In order to save money on plane fares, try to avoid peak travel dates. For example, the day before a holiday is a peak day and significantly more expensive than traveling on the actual holiday itself. By traveling on the actual holiday you can save money and avoid crowds at the airport.  Also, the day after the holiday is also the most expensive, so try to book your flight for 2 days after the holiday. Typically flights that are on Tuesdays and Saturdays tend to be less expensive than other days of the week for plane tickets. Make sure to book your flight as far in advance in possible to save money on your fares. The holidays are a popular time to fly so the airlines take advantage of this with high fares. Also, shop around for flights. My favorite site for booking flights is Kayak.com because it compares all of the airlines prices plus other discount travel sites. By seeing all the fares compared, you can choose the best deal for you.

Following these tips will allow you to have a pleasant and less expensive travel during the holiday season. You can save money and still be with the ones you love during the holidays by booking in advance and comparing all your travel options.

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Emily

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