Every year many of us fly home or to your family to enjoy the holidays. Whether it is Thanksgiving, Hanukkah or Christmas, traveling around the holidays can get pretty pricey. And while I love coming home to see my family I don’t like blowing a good chunk of my travel budget on just one trip.
If you plan ahead and pull some strings you can at least do it as cheaply as possible. To ensure you aren’t spending unnecessarily take a look at some of my holiday travel booking tips.
I’ve got a short flight home, just Northern California to Southern California, but if you don’t watch it those flights can jump up to more than $300. With that my last three holiday trips home have all stayed at about $100 or less using these tips.
Watch for sales & book early
I’ve talked before about how much I love Southwest, but whatever airline you choose to fly on make sure you are on their email list for sales. Without them, you might miss out on the best deals. Once you start seeing the sales run, make sure to pop over to their website and check out the fares.
It is never too early to buy holiday airfare.
I’m a big stickler for 6 to 8 weeks out for buying airfare, but this is the one time you break that rule. I’ve bought my ticket home for Christmas in August. If you’re used to flying to a destination, you know what a good fare is, so when you see it, buy it. I mean it when I say I start looking for things in July.
Another reason why I fly Southwest is there are no change fees. Meaning, I can take a stab at when I want to fly and won’t lose anything on the ticket. I’m stayed put for Thanksgiving, but I bought last year’s Christmas ticket in early October.
If you have flexibility use it
For Thanksgiving, everyone will fly out on Wednesday and fly home on Sunday. So if you have options on when you can take off, use them. When I flew out Tuesday after work and came back on Saturday it saved about $75 each ticket.
The same thing works for Christmas. If you don’t have to, don’t get too sucked into which days you travel on. Be flexible and you can save yourself some funds for your next trip.
Travel on the holiday
When I came back from studying abroad I saved $200 on my flight home by coming back on Christmas day. If it was the day before or after flying out of London was going to be ridiculous. And while my mother wanted to kill me for it, that $200 is what was I able to spend exploring London instead of sitting on a plane.
This holds true around a lot of the U.S. as well. If your family does Christmas Eve as the holiday, fly back on Christmas afternoon. Or if you don’t celebrate till the evening fly home in the morning.
Take the long road
Last year, while I originally booked a ticket, I’m canceled it (again, go Southwest) and instead fit in one of my bucket list items. Driving up the Pacific Coast Highway. I had a couple extra days where my office is closed and while I normally spend them catching up on stuff around the house, or one year launching my blog. I wanted to make those travel days.
So I took the long way home. I headed down the night before Christmas Eve to stay a handful of days with my family. Then took three days instead of six hours, to drive up the coast. (Find out about that trip here).
What could taking the long road on your trip home for the holidays do for you? Not all of us can road trip home, but if you can, don’t just think about the drive itself. How can you turn it into a whole new place to travel?
Make it travel, not just a trip home
Whatever you do, don’t just head home and veg. Take your family and explore something new. Whether something there is somewhere unique that has opened up in your hometown, there is something you haven’t done for ages, or there is a day trip you’re dying to try. Make sure to turn your trip home into another chance to travel and explore.