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Posted by on Nov 4, 2013 in Holiday, Travel | 0 comments

7 Strategies to Cut the Cost of Holiday Travel

If you have holiday travel plans on the horizon, and it’s been awhile since you ventured out of town – get ready. Airlines have increased fares due to higher fuel prices and have also  introduced new fees. If you’re driving to your destination, plan to pay more at the pump. The cost of travel keeps increasing, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t ways to save. Check out our top seven strategies for cutting the costs of holiday travel.

holiday travel

1. Start Researching Airfares Now

There’s no time like the present to start researching airfares. Sign up to get email notifications from travel websites like TripAdvisor or BookingBuddy. Simply provide the site with information on your trip, and as prices to your destination city change, the site will send email updates with new information directly to your inbox. This gives you an inside peek at changing airfares, but deciding exactly when to book is the real challenge. Plan to purchase your ticket at least two weeks prior to your travel date, as that’s when fares typically rise. Flights leaving on Tuesdays or Wednesdays tend to be cheaper, so make appropriate arrangements for a mid-week flight, if possible.

2. Consider Driving Instead of Flying

When traveling shorter distances, let’s say from Tallahassee, Florida to Sarasota, Florida, driving may be the more cost effective solution. When comparing prices, be sure to factor in the total time spent at airports, the cost of airport food, and any additional transportation costs necessary to arrive at your destination, such as airport parking or the cost of a cab or rental car. If the costs of driving and flying are similar, consider convenience when making your decision. Driving offers you flexibility during your vacation, and it’s usually the more comfortable travel solution.

3. Rent Your Home While You’re Away

Rent out your home while you’re away and you won’t just save money – you’ll generate it. List your property on websites like Airbnb or Couchsurfing to find a suitable renter – just make sure you list your home early. There’s a process involved, and unless you live in a vacation mecca, you’re unlikely to find a renter overnight.

4. Rent Your Car, Too

If you’re flying to your destination, use a website like RelayRides or Getaround to rent out your car while you’re gone. Although it may seem risky, the broker usually provides insurance and significant screening to reduce risk. Plus, you make the final decision on driver approval. Renting out your car can generate as much as $250 per week.

5. Forget About Rental Car Insurance

Your current car insurance policy or your credit card may cover rental car insurance, so it’s likely you can opt out of any offers made by rental car agents. Just make sure you do the research beforehand to ensure that you’re covered. And, if you are covered under your credit card, remember you’re only covered if you actually use that credit card to pay for the rental car.

6. Negotiate the Price of Your Hotel

If you’re staying in a hotel, negotiate rates and amenities effectively. Inquire about current hotel occupancy, and if it’s low, ask for a discount. Also, check on hidden fees, such as an Internet, fitness facility, or on-site parking charges. If these fees exist, request that they be removed.

7. Use the Right Credit Card

Holding the right credit card pays when it comes to travel. Even if you don’t want to open a new account, check all your credit cards to see if they offer travel benefits. In addition to free rental car insurance, many credit cards offer hotel discounts and upgrades, lost baggage insurance, or a free checked bag when you use your card for travel expenses.

Conclusion

Once you reach your destination, take steps to save on entertainment. Look for deals on coupon websites, such as Valpak, and use your destination zip code to get savings on entertainment and activities.  Every little bit counts when it comes to travel savings, so set your budget, and scour the web for ways to stay within your means.

What ways can you think of to reduce the cost of traveling over the holidays?

Guest blogger Andrew Schrage is a Savings.com DealPro and co-founder of MoneyCrashers.com, a website that strives to educate individuals in making wise choices about credit, debt, spending and more.

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