Traveling during the holidays is a wonderful way to celebrate with your loved ones and create new traditions and happy memories around the world. That said, holiday travel can be quite expensive and if you don't plan carefully, it can spiral out of control. Here are five ways to save money during the holiday season.
In most cases, you can start planning a trip a few months in advance; sometimes, you can put together a fantastic trip at the last minute. But holiday travel, above all, requires advance planning. The most sought-after properties tend to sell out very quickly, and flights are at their peak costs.
How far in advance should you plan? If you’re looking for a popular destination, start planning a year in advance and book as soon as you can. For flights, set up alerts a year in advance and keep an eye on prices for several months, getting used to how they fluctuate. Traditionally the best time to book flights for December is in September or October, but whenever you see the prices drop go ahead and book the tickets.
Use Airline Points and Miles
Whether or not you’re a miles collector already, you can plan carefully and use points miles to subsidize the cost of your trip through free or discounted airfare and hotel stays.
However, it's critical to research in advance whether or not your mileage partners have blackout dates. Some have no blackout dates; while others blackout travel from mid-December well into mid-January. Do your research in advance and see if you can put together a plan.
Consider Apartments Over Hotels
Whether you're traveling on your own, with a partner, or in a group, renting a room, apartment or house will almost always be much cheaper than comparable hotel rooms in the same neighborhood.
Airbnb isn't just for people to rent out their apartments: short-term rental companies are using the site for their properties that only exist to be rented out. The best tip of all? Get a place with a kitchen. Whether you do a lot of cooking or just keep breakfast supplies on hand, renting an apartment is a great way to reduce your food costs.
Put A Big Group Together
No matter where you travel, a bigger group sharing a single property will often be able to travel for a lower average cost. Why not celebrate the holidays abroad with a big group of friends or family?
Don't think you're limited to doing a family trip. Even just bringing together a group of four to six like-minded friends in a two- or three-bedroom apartment will drop the average price. The savings that you gain can be put to good use – like upgrading to a nicer place with a Jacuzzi!
Choose Destinations WhereYour Money Travels Further
Always dreamed of spending the holidays skiing in the French Alps? Consider visiting a cheaper ski destination, like the Tatras of Poland or the Julian Alps of Slovenia. It may not be quite as glamorous, but you’ll still get to enjoy mountains and snow!
Back in North America, you can save a bundle by heading to the state next door. Visit the White Mountains of New Hampshire or even Maine instead of the world-famous slopes of Vermont, while Taos in northern New Mexico will run at the fraction of the cost of Aspen, Colorado. In the Great White North, Banff, Alberta is a ski town where the prices run lower than in Whistler in neighboring British Columbia.
And for those craving sand and sunshine, consider Central America instead of the Caribbean. Nicaragua is one of the cheapest and most up-and-coming destinations in the region, while Panama still has some highly affordable beach hideaways. How do you save money traveling during the holiday season?