8 Ways to Save Big on Holiday Travel
From your flight to your car rental
Thanksgiving and Christmas are approaching—fast. Here, eight ways to cut the cost of traveling during peak season.
Buy Each Plane Ticket Separately
While it seems logical to buy all seats at the same time (for yourself, your hubby and the kids), it’s basically a guarantee that you’ll pay the same high-priced rate for each one. Purchasing them one at a time—and then immediately logging in to select your seats—can help you score varying (read: cheaper) rates.
Utilize Apps That (Accurately) Predict Flight Fluctuations
Forget the 47-day rule (or is it 56?). Apps like Hopper and Google Flights can help you anticipate airfare price fluctuations with up to 95 percent accuracy. They’ll also ping you with notifications about price drops.
Use Your Smartphone to Book Everything
More and more travel sites (like Travelocity and Avis) are unveiling special mobile-only deals and rates via their apps for everything from hotels to car rentals. You already use your iPhone for everything else—might as well employ it to book your holiday travel, too.
Talk to Your Credit-Card Company About Perks
Before you take any trip, it’s always worth getting up to speed on your latest credit-card offers and rewards. For example, perhaps your Visa covers your car rental insurance. Or your Platinum Amex gets you a $200 credit toward baggage fees. It’s as simple as calling customer service and talking through your trip.
Negotiate the Rate of Your Airbnb
Staying at an Airbnb generally costs significantly less than a hotel. But if the price per night is still a little over your budget, it never hurts to message the host and find out if there’s any flexibility with the rate. In some cases, you may be able to knock the cost down by as much as 25 percent.
Revisit the Same Hotel
Loyalty pays. So, for example, if you stay at a Kimpton hotel every time you visit Boston—or Austin or Philly—you might as well sign up for their rewards program so you can take advantage of free upgrades and room discounts each time you book.
Extend the Length of Your Car Rental
It sounds counterintuitive, but you may be able to score a discounted rate simply by increasing the number of days you’re renting the car. Let's say you only need the car for Thanksgiving weekend, but the rental company is offering 50 percent off if you book it for a full week. Depending on the cost of peak weekend rates, it might be cheaper to book a vehicle for a full seven days. (Just be sure to ask if there are any fees for an early return.)
Pack Super Light
Ugh, baggage fees. Unless you get reimbursed through your credit-card perks, your best bet is to lighten your load. Pro tip for holiday travel: Have your gifts wrapped and shipped straight to the address where you’ll be staying (bless you, Amazon Prime). The $3 to $5 gift-wrap costs will be significantly less than all those airline fees. (Or, worst case, you could always pick up a roll of wrapping paper when you land.)