If you plan on traveling this holiday season, you may experience sticker shock when you see how expensive ticket prices have become. Every aspect of travel has increased: airfare, hotels, and definitely gas.
But with a little homework, an early start, and some tech support, you can find some great deals, just in time for the holidays.
Here are five steps to save some money on travel this holiday season:
1. Build your budget first
This is the most important step. Look at your budgeting app and determine what you can actually afford. Many people decide upon the destination first and try to find the money, often going into debt to pay for it. But when you set your budget first, you will back all travel expenses into that amount, which means you will not overspend or go into debt to travel.
2. Start now
I cannot stress this enough. If you are planning to travel during the holidays, start budgeting and looking for deals now. The longer you wait to book that trip, the more expensive it will be. Airfare for Christmas travel this year is expected to be the same as last year, and that is still 20% above pre-pandemic prices. To find the best prices, start planning and booking now.
3. Sign up for rewards programs before you need them
You can save money as a member of loyalty programs, including holding the best travel rewards credit cards. The benefits can include room upgrades, discounted rental car prices, and even free tickets. I know people who save their points all year and then redeem them for free tickets during the holiday season after getting points for everyday shopping.
The most efficient way to get a large number of points quickly — especially with only a few months left before you need to use them — is to take advantage of the best credit card sign-up bonuses.
4. Use travel apps and social media to track prices
As soon as you set your travel destination for the holidays, consider plugging it into a travel app to track prices on all things related to that destination, airline tickets, rental car prices, cost of hotel stays, and even activities and events in the area that will be taking place during the time you’re there.
Popular sites like Hopper, Kayak, and Booking.com can all help you plan your travel and even give you clear advice on when to buy. You can set alerts for when the prices drop or increase so you can plan when to buy and save money.
Also, many hotels and airlines will tweet out deals for the weekend or to specific destinations that you will not find on their website, so following your preferred travel providers on social media can pay off.
5. Consider a shorter stay
Instead of traveling for, say, seven days, travel for four days instead. Think about all of the money that you will spend while traveling, like a hotel per night, food every day, and a rental car for each day. Shortening the length of your trip will save you money, and you can still enjoy yourself without worrying about how much you are spending.