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Holiday Travel: What You Don't Know Can Cost You

| December 07, 2016
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The holidays are a bustling time for packing up and heading out to visit loved ones and friends while enjoying a few extra vacation days, but beware of the unwanted gift of the holiday season—overpriced travel. Pay particular attention to this list of common holiday travel planning do’s and don’ts to prevent you from making financial decisions which could cut deep into your budget. While it may be too late to take advantage of all of these tips this year, perhaps they will help with planning in the year to come!

Book when you see a good deal. Turns out travelers who planned in advance and purchased their Christmastime airfare in August actually saved 19 percent overall on their holiday travel, according to online travel website Skyscanner.
1 Purchase your airfare closer to the holiday and there’s a big chance you’ll overpay. Plus, last-minute deals can disappear before you have a chance to blink. If you see a good deal early, book it. The same goes for gassing up your vehicle.

Don’t be inflexible if you want to save money. The holidays are a difficult time to travel because you are forced to plan around fixed dates. If you can afford some flexibility in your travel plans around the holiday days, there’s a chance you’ll save more money. For example, some people choose to fly early on Christmas Eve/Day to cut costs. If flying on the holiday sounds too extreme, consider taking less expensive flights with connections or mix and match airlines on outbound and return flights using price comparison websites like Priceline.com or Expedia.com

Wait to book hotels. Ironically, it pays to wait a bit later to book your hotel stay for the holidays. Research shows you can save more cash by booking about 20 days out. Hotels prefer to offer lower rates than to have empty rooms, so you’re more likely to find a deal on remaining rooms less than a month from your stay. If it makes you nervous to book later, monitor room rates up to a month and a half before your travel date to see if prices seem to be on an upswing. Or, if you must reserve lodging early and are staying in a big city, consider booking 15 minutes outside of that city to avoid high room rates.

Don’t over pack. It may be difficult to keep packing to a minimum when you plan to enjoy a long vacation this season, however, you’ll end up paying for it. Nearly all the major airlines charge for checked bags—and even more for oversized luggage. If you don’t NEED it, leave it at home. Better yet, pack extra light with just carry-on luggage to save on checked bag fees. Plus, if you have a connecting flight and worry about your luggage getting to your next plane on time, you’ll have it with you!

We hope you enjoy the holidays with less stress and more cash in your pocket!

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