Since deciding to move across the country a few years back, I’ve grown to learn a little bit about traveling on a budget. Not only because living in Los Angeles is expensive enough, but flying coast-to-coast several times a year to visit family and friends, along with my general passion for travel, has really started to take a toll on my bank account. And with the holidays coming up (one of the most expensive times of the year to travel), I can use all the help I can get.
As someone who has quickly escalated from a travel newbie to a seasoned frequent flyer, I’ve learned a few tricks to saving major cash along my travels. Keep reading for tips for saving money while planning for your holiday travel.
1. Watch not one, but several flight options
Probably the most common way travelers attempt to save money on their holiday travel is by keeping an eye on the flight, and waiting for the prices to drop before purchasing. But I never watch just one flight. By keeping tabs on several flight options, including those going to different airports, at different times during the day and those that are direct and indirect, allows me to easily compare flights by their price and perks.
Google Flights is a personal favorite of mine; I always drop in multiple flight options a few months prior to a trip and send notifications to my email for when there’s a significant change in price. While I won’t say this process always saves you money, it only takes a mere few minutes to start watching a trip, so it can’t hurt.
2. Bring food on your flight
Eating at the airport is not only ridiculously expensive, but it’s also (typically) not as healthy as packing your own. Before my flight, I always throw a few snacks (such as protein bars) for the plane in my purse and pack a healthy salad or wrap for me to eat right before take off. It doesn’t take much-added effort and can easily save you $50 for a round-trip flight.
3. Try money-saving apps or websites
There are so many travel-focused apps and websites out there these days, it’d be unfortunate to not take advantage of their deals. Websites like SkippedLagged or Skyscanner can often get you really good deals on flights without much effort or sacrifice on your end. A little bit of research can often go a long way when it comes to saving money!
4. Don’t check a bag
I know, I know. The mere concept of not checking a bag while flying home for the holidays can be enough to induce anxiety in some travelers (looking at you, overpackers). What with outfits to plan, unpredictable weather changes to accommodate for, and gifts to bring home for family and friends, not checking a bag often seems like an impossibility. But if you’re looking to save some extra cash, opting to go carry-on only can save you $100 or more on some airlines.
Some of my best tips to go home sans-suitcase are to purchase toiletries in my destination city, share bulky items such as hair dryers with friends and family, meticulously plan my outfits instead of throwing in too many options, and order my gifts to stores in my destination city for me to pick up. If not checking a bag at all seems too daunting, try bringing only a carry-on to the first leg of the trip and opting to check a bag on the way back, if you anticipate bringing home too many gifts and souvenirs.