It’s the holiday season again and many of you will be looking to head home from college for winter break or will be looking head home just for the holidays. Not surprisingly, travel during this time of year and be very cost prohibitive. As a result, you have to find ways to stretch your dollar so that you don’t go in over your head just to get home to visit family. Below are 6 tips to help you cuts down on the cost of travel this holiday season.

#1 Book Early

holiday travelsPrices are already starting to rise for holiday travel on flights. As a result, the sooner you can book, the better. While waiting until the last minute to book works in some instances – hotels, I’m looking at you – when it comes to flying, booking late is usually not the case.

This is because so many others are traveling during this time. The airlines know people want to get home to visit family and will pay a little more to do so. Therefore, prices are higher from the start. But, add in the fact that so many do travel, the airlines will be less likely to drop prices just to fill a flight. Odds are they will hold out because the odds are in their favor.

When my parents were looking to book a flight to my destination wedding, they thought that they would wait it out, hoping to score a cheaper flight. A round trip ticket started at $550. By the time they booked three weeks later, the price was $750. The week of the wedding, the flight was $825. Book early and save.

#2 When Flying, Consider Layovers

To save even more money when flying, look into layovers in connecting cities. I know that many reading this will want a direct flight. This includes me as well. But in some cases, you can save a few hundred dollars if you are willing to deal with a layover.

Before you jump at a layover because of a lower price, you have to determine how much you will save and whether or not the hassle is worth the money to you. For instance, how much is a one hour layover to you? I would guess that for a two hour layover, you would have to save more money as opposed to that one hour layover. In other words, the longer the layover, the more money you should be saving. Otherwise it isn’t worth it.

#3 Look Into Discounts

Surprisingly, many people pass up discounts when it comes to travel. Many times this is because they don’t know the discounts even exist. If you are an AAA member, you can save money on certain modes of travel. It is highly beneficial for you to visit the AAA website and do a little digging to see if any of the discounts apply to you.

Additionally, look into any other memberships you have. You may be surprised to find discounts where you least expected them.

#4 Pack Smart

It’s no surprise that airlines now charge for you to check your bags. For most airlines, it $25 for the first bag and the price rises for each additional bag. There is a way to lessen this fee: pack smarter.

Instead of throwing a bunch of clothes into suitcases, take a few minutes to think about what clothes you will need and pack accordingly. For example, if you are heading to a tropical location and plan to spend most of your time on the beach, you don’t need a few outfits for every day. Chances are you will be able to wear an outfit twice or won’t even need an outfit (other than your bathing suit) for a day. This helps keep the number of bags you check at a minimum.

Also related to this is learning how to pack a suitcase. If you can pack a suitcase smarter, you may be able to fit more items into one bag instead of having to use two bags or more. A quick search on YouTube yields many results for how to properly pack a suitcase.

#5 Use Cruise Control

In the event you are driving to grandmother’s house and taking the highway, learn to use the cruise control. Set it at a good speed and let the car take over from there. Doing this lessens the chances of you continuously accelerating and slowing down which decreases gas mileage. The more constant of a speed you can keep, the better your mileage will be.

Also, there is no need to speed. The faster you go, the more gas you use. Plus, the time you save by speeding really isn’t that much if your trip is short. If you are traveling for two hours, going 75mph instead of 65mph covers 20 extra miles. In the grand scheme of things, that isn’t that much time. Plus, when you just drive in the “slow lane” it is much less stressful.

#6 Pack Snacks

Lastly, pack snacks to tie you over. This will help you from wasting money at highway truck stops and gas stations as well as eating out while on vacation. I know for me personally, having snacks with me saves me a good deal of money. They will hold me over until I reach my destination. At that point, I can get a nice home cooked meal and won’t have to pick up any fast food to hold me over. This saves me money and my health!

Final Thoughts

These six tips will help you cut down on travel related expenses this holiday season. Even if you only use a few of them, you can save a good amount of money. And any money you can save, is more money you can invest and allow compound interest to work its magic for you.

Image provided by