The Holiday Travel Tips You Need to Save Dollars and Sanity
While many of us may want to hold onto summer for just a bit longer, there is no denying the busy holiday months will be here before we know it. The decorating, gift-buying and parties will quickly fill calendar days, and if you’re traveling, there is an extra layer of planning and to-do’s to tackle.
Check out a few of our holiday travel tips designed to save you money, time and stress—making your upcoming months more pleasurable and festive.
Book early and save. Sure, it’s fun to be spontaneous, but when it comes to holiday travel, planners win. If you create and book early, you’re most likely to get the best deal on your arrangements. Travel fares only go up as the holidays near closer, so book now. And if you start early, you’ll have more time to research coupons, deals and multiple discount sites. Don’t forget to consider red eye and overnight trips, which tend to be cheaper; if you have flexibility, look into driving or taking the train. Use your savings to spend on gifts, or sock away for a rainy day for the New Year.
Use a rewards card to earn points. Different cards and plans can give you cash back, save you on travel or gift you membership perks. Use the Rewards Card to book travel and accommodations, and then pay it off quickly. It’s a win-win for you, and saves you money for your special holiday trip.
Don’t drive yourself to the airport. Why spend your hard-earned dollars to pay for high-priced parking fees? Ask a friend or family member to take you to the airport, or arrange a rideshare service or taxi to drop you curbside. If you will be gone for more than a few days, the savings can be substantial.
Get there early. Traffic and crowds peak during the holiday season, so save some stress and arrive early. Or travel on the holiday itself. Sure, you might lose a few hours with the family, but being flexible with travel times can save your budget in big ways. If you must travel on a high-traffic day, give yourself extra time to commute so you don’t miss your flight, or find yourself sitting on the highway in gridlock traffic.
If you’re flying, beware of hefty baggage fees. Pack lightly. If you’re bringing gifts, don’t wrap them in advance. Pack your own paper. Or consider shipping them to your final destination and alert your host. There are so many retailers who offer free shipping, take advantage of the option and send it to your recipients directly.
Don’t be shy about asking for free upgrades. In the midst of all of the holiday stress, remember to share some cheer and ask nicely. You might score a nicer room, a better seat on a flight, or a free bag check. It never hurts to ask. And a dose of kindness is never a bad thing. Be nice, not naughty.
Communicate travel plans to your credit card company or financial institution. If you’re travelling to a different location, it’s a good idea to alert your financial institution and credit card company so they can anticipate unusual charges. Some issuers will freeze your card if they notice a sudden change in card usage, so be proactive and communicate the change in advance of your holiday travels—UNIFY members can set up a travel notice ahead of time.
The holidays are a special time to spend with family and friends, so plan early and be flexible. You’re sure to be rewarded with savings, less stress and more joy during this busy season.