Halloween is around the corner, Thanksgiving is just weeks away, and forget about Christmas. There isn’t even any snow on the ground!
So why are we writing about holiday travel in October? Simply put, because we want to help you save money.
After all, traveling by air during the holidays can cost a pretty penny. That’s especially true in the middle of a global pandemic, where increased demand drove airfare prices to new heights over the summer.
Never fear! In this blog, we’re going to reveal five great ways to save money on your holiday travel.
1. Book Early (But Not Too Early)
Generally speaking, booking your flights early is ideal. Contrary to public opinion, however, it’s actually possible to book too early.
There’s a reason for this: when airlines first release their travel dates, they deliberately set fares at a high level, hoping that a few eager passengers will pay the full asking price.
Within a few months, however, those prices eventually go on sale. Those are the best moments to book.
According to a CheapAir survey that assessed over 1.5 billion airfares, the “prime booking window” for domestic flights is approximately 47 days in advance. Conversely, if you wait to book your flights within three weeks of peak holiday travel, you can expect to pay an average of $111 more per ticket than those purchased well in advance.
Even though the holidays are a few months away, now is a great time to start looking at airfare.
2. Use Aggregator Apps (And Airline Websites)
Thanks to modern technology, you can find the absolute best prices on flights in a matter of minutes.
Popular apps like Kayak and Hopper can help you find affordable flights across every active airline on the market. You can even filter searches according to the cheapest flights, the fastest flights, and the best overall deals.
While utilizing these aggregators, be sure to visit the individual airline websites, too. Most airlines prefer to book you directly, so they’ll offer exclusive incentives and rewards through their websites.
3. Stay Flexible (And Set Alerts!)
By keeping your departure and return dates flexible, you stand to save a lot of money.
For example, when you search for holiday flights on Hopper, you’ll see a snapshot of the entire month of available airfare. The most affordable days will be listed in green, while average-cost days will be yellow, and unusually expensive days will be red.
Better yet, you’ll also be able to set up “Watch Filters” that help track the most affordable nonstop flights as well as the cheapest overall flights (i.e. those that have at least one layover).
In other words, apps like Hopper help you find great prices without you needing to lift a finger. Simply set your destination, your outside dates, and your flight preferences, and the app will monitor the best prices for you around the clock.
When great deals pop up, you’ll immediately get notified.
P.S. Such flexibility also applies to individual flight times. While early morning and late night flights aren’t ideal for sleep, they’ll be kinder to your bottom line.
4. Fly On The Actual Holiday
There are several compelling arguments in favor of flying on the actual holiday. For one thing, you’ll be practically guaranteed to avoid the chaos of the preceding travel days.
More importantly, you’ll likely get a superb deal on flights. According to Expedia, travelers who travel on Thanksgiving Day pay about $100 less than those who fly the Saturday before. The same holds true for those flying on Christmas Eve.
In both cases, Expedia confirmed that customers flying on the Saturday before a major holiday consistently pay the most money.
According to Kevin O’Leary, senior analyst at Priceline, “Flying on Thanksgiving and Christmas Day is largely a reflection of supply and demand. More travelers fly the days prior to Thanksgiving and Christmas than on the day itself, and fares reflect this.”
5. Travel Light
Thinking about packing your gifts before you fly? You might want to hold off on that.
Airlines make a fortune from charging baggage fees. In fact, studies show they bring in a whopping $5 billion a year from baggage fees alone.
Even low cost airlines like Spirit charge anywhere between $36 – $50 for one checked bag.
To the extent that you can, travel light. Only bring a carry-on bag and ship your online gift purchases directly to your destination.
On the other hand, if you absolutely need to bring certain heavy items with you, consider shipping them at the local UPS or FedEx rather than paying for baggage.
Though it might seem counterintuitive, shipping could actually help you save on exorbitant baggage fees. Check out Lugless to learn more about how easy (and affordable) it is to ship your luggage.
There’s one more easy way to save money when traveling for the holidays: don’t eat at the airports! Save money by packing snacks ahead of time.
And while you’re at it, be sure to bring an empty water bottle. Once you’re through security, you’ll be able to fill it up instead of paying around $6 for a new one.
Finally, before you book travel this holiday season, be aware of current COVID-19 restrictions and testing requirements. This is especially true if you plan on flying internationally.
Got travel jitters? At uLink, we’re dedicated to helping you save money in every possible way even though you don’t plan on flying back home this year. Thanks to our great exchange rates and fees starting as low as $0, you can send money back home to the ones you love instead of flying back home this holiday season.