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8 Ways to Axe Costs & Save Money When Flying for the Holidays

save money flying for the holidays - family in the airport
Written by Staff Writer

This blog post was updated on July 21, 2021.

No matter what time of year it is, it’s never too early to start thinking about your holiday travel plans. And if you’ve already booked, you may think the costs of your holiday travel is behind you on that credit card you used to purchase the tickets months ago, but you might be in for a rude awakening. Here are a few easy ways to cut the additional costs to save money flying for the holidays before you take off.

Don’t Check a Bag

In case you live under a rock or haven’t flown for a while, the airline fees have mounted. Most airlines charge to check a bag. A round trip baggage fee could amount from $50 to $100 a person. It all depends on how much you pack. Travelers looking to shave off the extra costs of holiday travel can easily avoid this charge by packing light and going carry-on only.

If you’re one of those people that nervously bites your nails as you watch the whole plane fill up with bags in the overhead bins, you can ensure you’ll get your bag onboard by getting priority boarding with your airline. Of course, this usually comes with a cost, but it’s always cheaper than checking a bag.

Catch a Ride To The Airport

While you may not want to inconvenience your friends and family around the holidays, it isn’t the time to be shy when it comes to airport rides. During the busiest times of the year, like Thanksgiving weekend or the weeks around Christmas, airport parking is not only crowded but also costly.

If you can, catch a ride to the airport with a friend or family member. It’s much more cost-effective to bribe someone with lunch to take you to the airport rather than paying for 4 days of airport parking or taxis to and from the airport. If you can’t find anyone to give you a ride, look up the most cost-effective public transit options.

Cash in Your Travel Rewards To Pay for Loose Ends

save money flying for the holidays - u

Whether you need to buy a hostess gift to bring to dinner or you need a last minute hotel room because Aunt Judy doesn’t have a place for you, the loose ends of holiday travel can really eat away at your wallet. In a pinch, your travel rewards and miles acquired might be of use to you to save on the little things. When holiday travel prices are at their peak, you might want to use rewards to pay for that hotel night or even a bouquet of flowers for the Thanksgiving chef.

Bring Your Own Entertainment

save money flying for the holidays - woman watching tv on her tablet

The stress and chaos of travel during the holidays are enough to make anyone want to get on their flight and start spending money on entertainment and food – even though what’s offered onboard can be mediocre and pricy. You’re better off loading up your tablet with TV shows and movies that you can watch again and stashing away snacks for the journey. Your airline might offer paid entertainment with movies and television shows, but you’ll pay a premium price just to watch something for a few hours.

Related: 6 Ways to Remove the Stress from Holiday Travel

Be Flexible With Your Travel Dates

save money flying for the holidays - couple choosing date to fly

Traveling during the holidays can be tough, but only if you make it that way. If you increase your flexibility, then you can save you and your family money. In turn, this can be used for other parts of your trip.

One way to do this is to be flexible with your travel dates. This can be difficult if you have to schedule time off from work. However, if you plan early enough, you can sync your travel. If you have more freedom to go on vacation, then look at a bunch of different dates to consider. Think about taking the kids out of school early or adding an extra day off to your holiday time.

Mix and Match Airlines

You don’t have to book cheap round trip flights to your destination from just one carrier. Actually, you might be able to save money flying for the holidays if you mix and match airlines for your trip. You can even mix airports as well. For instance, if your first destination is New York, then you can fly into Newark, New Jersey, or JFK in New York.

However, if you’re also going to visit Boston or Philly, then you can take a flight home from Logan or Philadelphia International Airport, respectively. The caveat: make sure you’re able to drop your rental car off at another airport without paying an exorbitant fee.

Take An Overnight Flight

save money flying for the holidays - woman taking overnight flight

A red-eye flight is a good choice for several reasons. First, overnight flights are generally less expensive and quieter. Second, if you’re flying across the country, you can leave while it’s dark and land when the sun is up. As a result, you may not feel as jetlagged. You have to prepare for this type of flight if you have trouble sleeping on an airplane. Purchase an eye mask and earplugs beforehand to mute the cabin’s light and jet sounds. Also, consider a neck pillow for extra comfort.

Another item to look at when you take a red-eye flight: snacks. Even in the busiest airports, stores, and restaurants close during the early morning hours. So, you’ll want to bring some food with you to eat before and during the flight. It will energize you when you exit the plane.

Pack Your Own Meals and Snacks

save money flying for the holidays - bringing snack on flight

In general, packing meals and snacks for a flight is a good idea. This saves you a good deal of money you can utilize elsewhere on your trip. Here are a few tips on what to bring:

– Don’t choose anything too spicy or salty. These foods leave you incredibly thirsty in an airplane cabin that lacks humidity.
– Don’t take messy items. They’re hard to eat in an airplane seat and can leave you dirty until you land.
– Avoid foods with odors. This affects your seatmate and everyone else on the plane.
– Select foods that are high in protein and low in carbs and sugars. They can help with air sickness and jetlag.

Also, remember this about water: you can’t bring it past the security checkpoint. So, don’t buy any bottles of water right before you get to the airport. You’ll be forced to throw it out. Bring an empty bottle instead and fill it at a water fountain after you’ve gone through security. It’s a cheaper way to stay hydrated than shelling out for a pricey bottle of water in one of the airport stores.

What other ways do you save on holiday travel? We’d love to hear about it in the comments below!

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Staff Writer

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