Don’t Let Holiday Travel Costs Deplete Your Savings

Halloween is over and the start of the holiday season has officially begun. While this may mean holiday office parties, shopping trips and gatherings with friends and family, this season can also represent two months of stress about how you’re going to pay for everything, including travel expenses.

Going home to spend the holidays with family can be financially crippling if they live out-of-state. Gas prices remain elevated and airline tickets can run anywhere from $200 to $1,000 depending on your destination. This doesn’t include baggage fees you may encounter. Before you start moving funds around or planning to drain your savings, explore a few cost-cutting measures that might make traveling a little easier on your bank account.

1. Use your rewards
If you have a rewards credit card or belong to an airline loyalty program, start checking dates (to avoid blackout periods) and make use of any benefits you’ve accrued. Many people have the tendency to let their rewards sit unused instead of using benefits when they need the savings the most.

2. Compare ALL airlines, websites
Websites like Expedia and Travelocity can no doubt save you money on flights, but they may not always be the best route to savings. In many cases, booking your ticket directly through an airline can be a cheaper option because they often have promotional deals going on that discount sites don’t. When you’ve found a deal, don’t forget to factor in additional costs, such as baggage fees. You may find that even if some airlines, such as Southwest, have a slightly more expensive ticket, the total cost may still be cheaper because your bags fly free.

3. Explore other travel avenues
Planes may be the fastest way to get to your destination, but it may not be the most affordable. Don’t dismiss buses or trains when making your preparations. The tickets are typically less expensive than flying and you will have fewer fees to deal with. Carpooling with an old friend may also be another option.

4. Make them come to you

If you’re really strapped for cash and don’t have the money to make it home, consider hosting holiday festivities at your house. The costs of purchasing food and playing host may be more affordable than a ticket home, and it can give your family a change of scenery for the holidays.