How to travel on the cheap during the holiday season

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The holiday season can be a budget buster, thanks to the endless stream of parties and gift giving. One thing that doesn’t have to put a dent in your wallet, though, is your holiday travel. Check out these tips to travel on the cheap during the holiday season.

Start early

How to travel on the cheap during the holiday season
Start early to maximize your options (Image: RBerteig)

The earlier you can begin booking your travel arrangements, the better your chances of snagging cheaper flights and saving big on your holiday travel. Think months in advance, rather than weeks, to beat the rush for these in-demand tickets. While you can also try your luck by waiting until the last minute to snag a leftover ticket at a cheaper price, you don’t want to jeopardize your holiday plans. Book early to secure your ticket at the best price.

Be flexible

Because demand for flights during the holiday season skyrockets, travellers can’t be choosy when it comes to their flight details – especially if you’re looking for a cheap flight during this peak travel season. The more flexible you can be with your travel details (including when you fly and which airline you fly), the more likely it is that you’ll be able to score a cheap flight for your holiday travel.

Consider alternative airports

How to travel on the cheap during the holiday season
Flying in or out of an alternative airport can save money when it comes to holiday travel (Image: Artist in doing nothing.)

While you may always fly out of the closest airport to you, compare fares between your preferred airport and nearby airports. Other airports in the area may offer cheaper fares. They may also have flights operated by low-cost carriers that don’t service your preferred airport. Depending on the fare difference, you might end up saving money even if you need to rent a car to get to and from the alternative airport.

Work with the airline

When it comes to cheap holiday travel, it pays to work with the airline directly. Do your research online to see what flights and fares are available, and then go to the airline directly to book. Flights booked directly with an airline can be cancelled (for a fee), so you can rebook at a lower fare in case the price of the ticket drops.

Travel on the actual holiday

While sitting in the airport on Christmas Day may not sound glamorous, it can help you score a cheaper ticket. Since demand for flight tickets on the actual holiday is lower than the days before and after, tickets may be offered for less. Another bonus? You’ll find smaller crowds, too.

Consider alternative airlines

Cast your search net far and wide to include every airline that flies your route. Sticking to one airline, even if it’s one you use frequently to earn miles and status, limits your ability to find cheaper flights.

Minimize your fees

Airlines are charging more and more fees these days, for everything from legroom upgrades to checked bags. If you’re looking to travel on the cheap, avoid common fees by travelling with a carry-on only, booking your seat in the main cabin and bringing your own snacks.

(Main image: 401(K) 2013 used under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike license

How to travel on the cheap during the holiday season was last modified: December 16th, 2015 by Marissa Willman
Author: Marissa Willman (893 posts)

Marissa Willman earned a bachelor's degree in journalism before downsizing her life into two suitcases for a teaching gig in South Korea. Seoul was her home base for two years of wanderlusting throughout six countries in Asia. In 2011, Marissa swapped teaching for travel writing and now calls Southern California home.