5 ways to save on travel this holiday season
With Halloween right around the corner, it’s time to start talking about those holiday travel plans. No matter that the leaves have barely changed colors — the earlier you start planning for your holiday trips, the more likely you are to save a bit of cash in the process.
Getting the ball rolling early is just part of the plan, though. We’ve rounded up five other easy ways to save on your holiday travel this season—whether you’ll be traveling by yourself or with your whole family in tow. Follow these suggestions and who knows — you might just have a little extra cash left over come New Year’s.
1. Fly on the Cheapest Day of the Week
According to Farecompare.com, flying out on a Wednesday (if it’s for domestic travel) will save you the most cash. If Wednesday’s not an option, Tuesdays and Saturdays are the cheapest backups. You’ll want to try to avoid flying on Fridays and Sundays, as those are the most expensive days of the week to travel.
Time of day matters when it comes to flying, as well. The first flight out in the morning tends to be the cheapest, followed by during and after lunch and flights around the dinner hour.
2. Purchase Tickets at the Right Time
We don’t mean purchase your tickets months in advance (although research does show that the sweet spot for purchasing tickets at the best prices is around 3-4 months before departure for domestic travel and 4-5 months before international), but rather pick the right day of the week to buy. According to the same Farecompare study, the best day and time to shop for and purchase domestic flights is Tuesday at 3 p.m. Eastern.
3. Skip the Fancy Hotel
If you won’t be crashing with family for the holidays, consider a home exchange for your stay as opposed to a fancy (read: expensive) hotel. Home exchange sites like VRBO and Home Away usually offer options that are both comfortable and affordable, and they tend to come with other amenities like full kitchens and off-the-beaten-track neighborhood locations that you won’t find at most hotels.
4. Put Your Social Network to Good Use
These days the best way to find out about special promotions, deals and sales on travel is through your social network. Follow your favorite airlines and hotels on Twitter and Facebook, and sign up for newsletters and fare alerts from flight aggregator sites like AirfareWatchdog and Kayak.
5. Look for Local Deals
Before you leave, sign up for newsletters and updates from savings sites like LivingSocial and Groupon in the city where you’ll be visiting. Also check in with the local Chamber of Commerce or the local Visitor’s Bureau, both of which will have more information on local deals that can help you save a bundle on activities while you’re traveling.
Cheryl Lock is a personal finance writer at and former editor at LearnVest and Parents magazine. When she’s not writing, she enjoys travel, which she blogs about at wearywanderer.wordpress.com.