18 Simple Secrets to Slash Your Holiday Travel Budget
I am guilty of spending a gluttonous amount of money to travel this Thanksgiving to my extended family. Before the purchase, my husband hesitated (rightfully so). So I called my sister for support.
"Family is more important than money," she reminded me. That was all the stuffing I needed to march downstairs and pressure my husband one more time. But this time, I sugared the deal.
"I'll work three extra freelance gigs to make up it."
He caved, like someone deciding to run off that third slice of pumpkin pie.
There are plenty of perfectly emotional reasons I called upon to justify the splurge. It's been three years. I want to show off my new baby. My sister is hosting. Yada, yada, yada, until the credit card bill arrives in our inbox.
How much did we contribute to United Airlines' bottom line? Prices were so high, we essentially bought a third ticket. (Cue: me weeping quietly.)
You in the same boat?
If so, here are 18 travel tips to make it through the holidays. Do as I say and not as I do!
18. Take one of the most affordable family vacations known to mankind, according to US News & World Report. Where can you go? I'll give you a hint: anywhere you can pitch a tent. If you've never open-roasted a turkey, now is your chance! Just think of the freezing cold memories you'll make. But in all seriousness, there are many, many places to camp for free.
17. Traveling with kids? Airlines let you check so-called essential baby items, including a stroller, car seat, and portable crib, for free. Wrap your baby items in a large plastic bag to prevent it from getting dirty, and while you're at it, toss in a few items of your own.
16. Rack up points that can be converted into free airline tickets with a top notch rewards credit card, as suggested by PT Money. If you buy a ton of Christmas presents now, perhaps you'll earn enough rewards to get something this year.
15. Grab an airport parking lot coupon the week before you pack your bags by joining the lot's email list and by checking online for special offers.
14. Traveling with extended family? Trent at The Simple Dollar found group discounts everywhere on his latest jaunt. Generally, group discounts start for 10 or more people.
13. Search for GoGo in-flight Internet coupons before you board. Travelers en route are often not eligible for GoGo Internet discounts.
12. If you're flying, avoid these hidden airline fees that Get Rich Slowly ran into on a trip to New York City. Remember to add them into the ticket price, or you may not be getting the deal you think you are.
11. Sneak your own booze. Why pay $6 for a cocktail when you can pick up your very own little bottle of happiness for half the price at your local liquor store?
10. Another way to get a deal on a plane ticket is to get off early. Ethical? Nope. Cheap? Yup.
9. Buy prepared snacks at the grocery store or make food ahead of time. I promise you, it'll be cheaper. And it'll taste better.
8. Use credit card points or rewards to offset the cost of a hotel, if your family is that awesome.
7. If you have to rent a car, follow Bargaineering's five steps to save on rental cars. His explanation of how rental car companies make money off each customer is eye-opening.
6. Apply for a Southwest credit card and get a free roundtrip flight. Blackout dates apply.
5. Get together via Skype. Set up the computer camera in the middle of the action so it's like you're gabbing in the same kitchen.
4. If you're flexible on your destination, holiday travel doesn't have to be pricey. Wise Bread found six ways to enjoy a winter trip for cheap. Relatives optional!
3. Celebrate another week. A number of BargainBabe.com readers suggested this to me when I posed my holiday travel dilemma. How smart!
2. Combine the trip with business so you can write part of it off. (Note: I am not an accountant and this does not constitute professional tax advice!)
1. Rent a far-flung travelogue instead. Then catch up on sleep. Armchair travel has its benefits.
*Post courtesy of Julia Scott at Investing Answers.
Each Monday, Julia Scott offers a collection of savings tips -- including some of the week's best links from around the Internet -- to InvestingAnswers readers. Julia is the founder of the savings and couponblog BargainBabe.com.-3
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