Today’s post is by Kim Olson, travel writer + photographer at KimOlsonPhoto.com where she writes about traveling, simple living and finding creative ways to save, manage and spend money on the things that matter most.
With the holiday season upon us soon, many of you will be traveling to see loved ones. Traveling during these peak times can get pretty expensive, so it never hurts to be thinking about different ways to save money.
Here are a few tips that may help you save a few extra dollars this holiday season.
1. Plan Ahead
Most of us know that it usually pays to plan ahead. When it comes to airfare, in particular, it can help to set up airfare email alerts that notify you when lower fares are found. Two of my favorite online tools for this are Kayak.com and Airfarewatchdog.com. They’re free and easy to use and once you set up your alert, you only need to look at your email inbox.
2. Score a Last-Minute Deal
Of course last-minute bargains are also a possibility. If you don’t want to (or can’t) plan too far in advance, you can always keep an eye on last-minute weekend airfares or packages. Sign up on many airlines’ websites to receive these offers when they’re released.
3. Stay with Friends or Family
Along with transportation, lodging is one of the most expensive travel-related costs. To help save a bit of dough, try crashing at your friends’ or families’ places. Some people are quite happy to host guests, and even if they don’t have an extra room, they probably have a pretty comfy couch calling your name.
4. Look for Alternative Lodging
Staying with friends not an option? Why not try a bed and breakfast. Not all B & Bs are expensive, so it never hurts to investigate. I’ve stayed in a few where it’s a fair amount cheaper than hotels in the area and you get a delicious breakfast included. A win win!
5. Road Trip It
Sometimes you just can’t find good deals on airfare. If that’s the case, consider taking a road trip, instead. Gas prices aren’t what they used to be (I actually remember it being less than $1/gallon back in the day), but if you’re not driving too far and you aren’t cruising in a gas guzzler, you’re likely to come out ahead by driving to your destination instead of flying. And if you’re traveling with others, you can also split the cost.
6. Use Miles
I’ve used miles quite often when buying airline tickets that would’ve otherwise cost a fortune. Booking tickets using miles can be a challenge during the holiday season, but if you book early enough or check back frequently (since inventory is constantly changing), you could get lucky and secure a really cheap ticket to your destination.
Traveling during the holidays doesn’t have to break the bank. With a little planning, flexibility and creative thinking, you can still make it happen.
Kim Olson is a travel writer + photographer at KimOlsonPhoto.com where she writes about traveling, simple living and finding creative ways to save, manage and spend money on the things that matter most. You can also find Kim on Facebook or Twitter. Kim Olson and Kim Olson Photo are not affiliated with LPL Financial or Perennial Financial.