Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year’s are holidays that many people want to travel to be with their families and friends they grew up with. With the current economy, many people are hoping to still be able to spend time with loved ones, but minimize travel costs. Here are a few suggestions that may help you get where you want to be with less travel expenses than you might expect.
Your options will vary depending on where you live. There are buses, trains, planes, and other modes of travel to consider. Planning in advance with any of the above may help you find travel deals that are only available to those who purchase in advance.
Greyhound buses and Amtrak trains both offer special deals and discounts, and if you purchase online you may be eligible for more savings. Megabus is another mass transit busing service you may want to know about, depending on your area, which offers extreme discounts for bus travel in between some major metropolitan areas. Taking a bus or train is not for everyone, but often turns out to be a cheaper mode of travel than flying or driving your own vehicle. Consider a few tips for making a bus trip fun and comfortable here.
Another way to make travel less expensive is to go in groups. If there are several people in your family trying to get to the same place, you may be able to coordinate a carpool and share gas money and other expenses. If there’s no one you know who is traveling from the same point A to point B, you may want to look into ride-share postings on places like Craigslist. You should be careful screening possible road trip buddies, whether you are offering a life or seeking one. However, many people make new friends and share expenses this way to everyone’s benefit.
Some airlines are offering lower plane fares than ever this year. When buying a plane ticket, do lots of searches online. You may be able to get different prices for the same flight from different services like Travelocity and Expedia. The more searching you do, the better idea you will have of available price ranges for different dates. Often flights are cheapest on a specific day of the week ( usually Tuesday ) , and by varying your search parameters you may find it much more or less expensive to fly a day or two earlier or later. The more flexible you can be, the more options you will have.
I prefer to fly Southwest these days, because their rates are cheaper than most other airlines and they include your baggage. JetBlue is another airline that offers inexpensive flights to and from many destinations. Keep in mind when looking at tickets than many offers do not include fees for baggage, taxes, and other surcharges. Researching the individual airline policies from different companies will keep you from having an unexpected problem at the gate.
When evaluating what method of travel is least expensive, try to remember which costs may vary based on travel time and distance. If your trip will take more than one day and you’re planning on traveling by car, keep in mind that you will need to rest somewhere during the trip. Meals are another thing you should factor in, although you may be able to cut corners by bringing snacks, a bag lunch, or a small cooler.
If you need to stay in a hotel, you should factor the costs of the lodgings in with the gas when calculating how much the trip will cost. When possible, arranging to stay with a friend or relative can save you the expense of lodgings entirely. Also look into alternative lodgings like bed and breakfasts, college dorms during off seasons, and hostels that are available in some areas with very affordable rates. For the slightly more rugged in warmer climates, camping somewhere close by can be a money-saving alternative. Like with travel fares, looking online for good deals wherever you are going may make you aware of reasonable options you might not have thought about. There are online specials and coupons that may save you a significant portion of your hotel bill, so take time to do a little research. If you are traveling by plane or train and purchasing tickets online, also be sure to look into package deals which may save you a percentage of the overall purchase.
If you are traveling by train, plane, or bus, make sure to check and see if the price you can get is lower if you can arrive about three days early. Often the base fare will be higher closer to the date of the holiday. Depending on your time constraints, you can save yourself a lot of money but traveling early. You can also often get the best price when departing at times that may be unpopular. A lot of people don’t want to leave in the middle of the night or very early in the morning, so those tickets may be offered at a better price. If you are traveling by car that won’t be an issue, but take into account that many other people may be on the road at the same time. Allow extra time for potentially heavy traffic, especially in metropolitan areas.
If you are in a very difficult financial position and still want to travel, there may be ways. Research resources that may be available from local charitable organizations and religious groups. Sometimes funds are available to help people travel at the holidays. You can also participate in some things online that may help you earn money or special travel deals. For instance, if you use the Swagbucks search engine, you can earn points all year round and use them for gift certificates from Southwest to apply to whatever trip you like. There are many little ways that when combined can create a way to travel, if you have eyes for the opportunity.
However you get there, may your travels be happy and safe!
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