If you are one of the millions of Americans who moved away after high school, you have long-distance family. You may only get to see your parents and siblings once or twice a year. Usually, that is during a holiday. Unfortunately, holidays are the worst and most expensive times to fly. On that same note, there are a many ways that you can save money during holiday travel. How?
Buy your ticket early. Any other time of the year, it is easy to find last minute travel deals and discounts, but not around the holidays. This is peak travel season and airlines know this. If anything, they are likely to increase the price at the last minute. They do so hoping to profit from poor planners. If you book your flight two months before the holiday, you could easily save $100.
Not only does buying your airline tickets early save you money, but it also ensures you get a seat. Right now, most airlines are losing money and very quickly. To avoid bigger losses, they are increasing airfare and offering fewer flights. Five years ago, you may have had ten Christmas flights to get you home on Delta Airlines. This year, you may only have three. If you wait until the last minute to make your reservations, you may find no available seats.
Play the waiting game. It seems ironic to wait when you were just told to book your reservations in advance. Only play the waiting game if you are planning at least four months ahead. About three months before your travel date is the best time to find good deals. This buys you some time. Monitor your interested flights or setup email alerts. Set a goal price. If the airline does not lower their price to meet your goal after one month, go with the cheapest flight available. This is another benefit of planning ahead, you have time to experiment and monitor.
Check other nearby airports. Do you have at least two or three airports within a reasonable distance to your home? What about your destination? If you are flying home to meet your mother, chances are she will not mind driving an hour to pick you up. If it saves you money, do it. Although there are no guarantees, usually the larger airports have the best deals to offer.
Arrive home for the holidays early. Usually it is very expensive to fly a day or two before a holiday, like Christmas or Thanksgiving. If you can, arrive home a few days earlier. Spending three extra days with your family may save you $50 or more!
Accept a bump if you can. As previously stated, the holidays are a popular time to fly. Since there are fewer flights, there are more overbooked planes. If your plane is overbooked and volunteers are sought to take a later flight, try bargaining. You may be able to get an upgrade to first class, a discount on your next flight, and so forth. Just be sure to call your family back home to let them know you will be arriving late.
Finally, pack snacks. Not only will this save you money at the airport, but time too. Airports are loaded with travelers during the holidays. This not only means long lines at airport security, but at eateries too. Pack a snack or a bagged lunch to avoid paying for an expensive meal and having to wait in line.