Holiday Travel: 3 tips for going out of town without going broke
Its that time of year again when we start getting in the holiday spirit and start making travel plans for visiting loved ones or taking that much needed holiday vacation with the family. Unfortunately it is also the time of year that airlines, hotels and cruise lines typical double and sometime triple their regular prices just because of demand. Here are a few simple tricks on how to take advantage of the most savings and the best pricing that you can this season on all of your holiday travel now through January.
Tip #1: Travel the World by Water
Whether you are looking to get out of the cold weather and go somewhere exotic or just be pampered by having someone make all of your meals and entertain you, cruises serve as one of the best ways to spend time together as a family over the holiday months.
Most of you are thinking I am crazy right about now because when you look at cruise prices online they are sky high. Well here is a little secret……..you do not always have to book a cruise 12-18 months in advance to get the best prices. In fact last minute bookings on cruises have been some of the best deals that I have ever seen.
Here is another tip, cruise lines drop their pricing daily for unsold rooms even that are a month or two out. The key is to be looking for them to drop as sometimes they only drop for a few hours. I have seen a 7-night Caribbean Cruise listed at $900 one day and then the next day it drops to $350 for that exact same cruise for a few hours. Make sure you register for Cruise Critic emails at cruisecritic.com to get daily emails on price drops between now and the time you are looking to travel. You might be surprised to find that you can travel to somewhere you have always wanted to go at 50-80 percent off.
Tip #2: Skip the Drive
If you are a family of 4 or more like we are, you are always looking for ways to save on travel. More and more families like ours are opting to drive long distances to get to their travel destinations just to avoid the high cost of flights these days and baggage check in fees. This holiday season you might want to skip the long drive and travel in style by air. We have always been told that in order to get great prices on air travel you need to book your flights at least 6 months but more preferably 12 months in advance. While this is sometimes true, this is not always the case.
First of all one thing you need to know is that Tuesday is the best day of the week to shop for flights because most airlines typically key in cancellations on Monday nights. You have to check early because the good flights will sell out at these prices fast and flights usually go back up the next day.
Another tip is to use travel sites like Kayak and Hotwire as they will give you additional discounts on flights. You can also check for Coupon codes at sites like Retail Me Not and Deals Plus. One last trick you can and should do just to weigh out all of your options is call the airline and ask to speak with someone directly in sales. Many times I have gotten the lowest and most aggressive pricing by skipping the third party companies and going directly to the airline themselves.
Tip #3 Get a Room with A View
This is the easiest one of them all. The prices for booking a hotel during the holiday months probably vary more than any other type of travel. If you search online you might get one price and if you call the hotel directly you will get a completely different price. Knowing how and when to book your room can save you hundreds of dollars this holiday season. If you want to get a room for $53 per night when everyone else is paying $179 or if you want to get an ocean view room at half the price of the regular room then apply these simple steps.
Typically prices drop on under booked rooms on Mondays and Tuesdays therefore those are the best days to book your hotel stay. Using sites like Booking.com and Hotwire can get you the most aggressive pricing at up to 80% off. I can speak from personal experience as we do this no matter where we are traveling to.
Here’s another little known secret — even when you are using these discounted sites to book your hotel stay, you can also use coupon codes with it to get an even larger discount off of your booking. Most often there are coupon codes for $25 off of your $100 hotel purchase and other codes out there just waiting for you to take advantage of. After all of this you are still not done. Make sure when you check in at the hotel that you arrive earlier than normal and ask to have your room upgraded to a room with a view at no additional cost……….You will be happily surprised to see just how often this works!
I love the Christmas season and it is my absolute favorite time to enjoy traveling with my family. Whether you want to hit the slopes this year, bask on a beach in the Caribbean somewhere or just enjoy time under the tree with family you only see once a year, make sure you use these 3 simple tips to travel this year without going broke.
Alicia Werle is the owner of Breaking Free Financial Seminars and Wee Blessing LLC. She teaches monthly seminars on how to actively become debt free through couponing.