With Thanksgiving and Christmas right around the corner, many people are going to be traveling to see family and friends for the holidays. The cost of travel can easily destroy a budget, so how can you keep your costs in check while still getting to see your loved ones? Below are 5 tips to help you balance everything out.

Make A List

The first thing you should do is to make a list of everyone you would like to see and where they live. This will help you to put into perspective how much it will cost you to travel around and how much traveling you will be doing.

It will also help you to plan a possible route so that your travels can be as cost-effective as possible.

Consider Swapping

As great as it is to see all family members for the holidays, the reality is that many times it just isn’t possible. Therefore, you should consider swapping. This means that you see some family members for Thanksgiving and the others for Christmas. This works well for married couples who have twice as many people to visit during the holidays.

Consider Staying Home

If you have kids, it can be an issue to travel around a lot. As a result, you could instead have people come to you. You could host Thanksgiving instead of going to a family members house. This will allow you to see your loved ones and save on the cost of traveling.

Another way to see loved ones and stay home is to use Skype or Facetime. In both cases, you will get to see your loved ones but not have to pay to travel. While it isn’t the same as seeing them in person, it is better than just a phone call without the video.

Book Early

If you do decide to visit others, the key is to book early. Not only so you get a low price, but so you have options. Many people travel during the holidays, so planes fill up fast. By booking early, you have a better chance at getting a flight at a decent price, at the time you want or even the seats you want.

Consider Other Modes Of Transportation

My wife and I were recently looking at travel costs and a flight would cost us over $700. I looked at a train and that would cost us $200. Always remember that unless you are traveling to a far away destination, going with another option, such as a train, is a possibility.

Also note that with gas prices plummeting, you might be able to save a good deal of money by just driving to your loved ones instead of flying.

Bonus Tip: Use Rewards

While chances are it won’t help you this year, maybe it makes sense to look into a credit card that offers rewards. Many now offer great sign on bonuses that will help you take a free flight when you meet an initial monthly spending goal.

If you would rather not go the credit card route, you could look into frequent flier programs or hotel rewards programs if you stay at the same hotel or fly the same airline. Just know that there are blackout dates and the holidays could fall into that period where it will be hard to redeem points or miles.

Final Thoughts

There are many ways to save money on travel during the holiday season, you just have to think outside of the box and maybe make some sacrifices. If you skip out on a family member one year, make it a point to see them the following year.

At the end of the day, saving money on travel this time of year all comes down to being prepared early. The sooner you figure things out, the more options you will have and the less stressful travel planning will be.