During this time of year, you’ll likely be making plans to visit friends and family. Know that you don’t have to break the bank when it comes to travel. You can still be comfortable while saving a few bucks. The key is to plan ahead and make a few swaps here and there. Here are three ways to maximize your travel budget.
1. Skip the hotel
A hotel stay can eat through your budget in no time. Hotel prices are steadily increasing. According to the 2016 Global Travel Price Outlook, hotel rates are expected to rise 4.3% next year, as demand outpaces supply. Instead of staying at a pricey hotel, consider staying with friends or family. Another option is to stay at a bed and breakfast or rent a vacation home. Recommendations from friends and family or an online search may help point you in the right direction when it comes to locating a reputable bed and breakfast. One place you can start your search for a vacation rental is HomeAway, which has more than one million global listings.
2. Adjust your travel dates
Air and hotel travel become more expensive the closer you get to a major holiday. You can save some cash by being flexible when it comes to your departure and arrival dates. According to Hopper, an application for predicting flight prices, the most expensive days for Christmas travel are Christmas weekend and New Year’s weekend. Planning an early arrival and departure generally yields the most savings.
“Save up to 30% by departing on the Monday before Christmas or Christmas Eve, and returning on Christmas day or on or after January 5. For example, it’s about $28 (6%) cheaper to depart on Christmas day compared to flying on December 23, and it’s about $133 (26%) cheaper to fly on New Year’s day compared to December 26,” said Patrick Surry, chief data scientist at Hopper.
3. Use rewards and sign up for loyalty programs
Don’t forget airline miles, as well as credit card rewards points and loyalty programs. If you’ve racked up a ton of frequent flier miles, now is the time to use them. Also make use of your credit card rewards program for purchases you’ll make during your trip. Furthermore, do a bit of research beforehand to see which loyalty programs and deals you can take advantage of. One way to snag a holiday deal is to follow airlines and car rental companies on Facebook and Twitter to get information about discounts. Also consider enrolling in rewards programs like Enterprise Plus and Hertz Gold Plus. Travel websites Expedia and Priceline also offer discounts and special offers to customers who subscribe to their mailing list.