Sadly, it may not be.
- Holiday travel can be a huge expense.
- You may end up spending more this year due to inflation.
- Book early and be flexible with your dates to save money on travel.
The holidays tend to be a costly time of the year — not just because of all the gifts you’re buying, but also, due to the expense of travel. Travel has gotten expensive this year across the board — we can thank increased demand and inflation for that. But the cost of lodging and airfare tends to rise during the holiday season in general, which means you may be in for a whopper of a credit card balance if you’ll be boarding a plane to see family for Christmas.
In fact, a recent report by Deloitte reveals that consumers have an average travel budget of $1,287 this year. Now interestingly, that’s about the same as last year for 60% of travelers. But 26% of consumers expect to spend significantly more on holiday travel this year.
In fact, if your holiday travel budget is somewhere in the ballpark of $1,287, it may not be enough to get you where you need to go. This especially holds true if your travel dates are rigid, or if you’re traveling somewhere popular and need to pay extra for a ticket.
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Of course, the problem with paying a premium for holiday travel is that it has the potential to drive you into debt. And that’s not a great way to close out the year.
The good news, though, is that there are steps you can take to lower your holiday travel costs. Here are a few strategies to employ.
1. Don’t book at the last minute
Booking last-minute travel can sometimes work to your advantage — but generally not during the holidays. If you wait too long, you might not only get stuck paying extra for a flight, but also, get stuck with a really miserable itinerary (think multiple connecting flights, an early morning departure, and a middle seat on both legs of your journey). A better bet is to book your flight for Christmas (or whatever December holiday you’re celebrating) sooner rather than later if you haven’t done so already.
2. Be flexible with your travel dates
Your ideal itinerary might involve traveling to your hometown early on Christmas Eve and flying back home a day or two after Christmas. But that could mean paying a small fortune for a ticket. If you have the flexibility to head into town several days ahead of the holiday and stick around for a while afterward, it could result in a lower-cost flight.
Note that if you’re paying for lodging, this strategy may not work. What you gain in terms of a lower-cost flight, you might lose by having to pay for extra nights at a hotel. But if you’re staying at your parents’ place, spacing out your flights could be a source of savings.
3. Cash in those air miles
Can’t find a good deal on a flight home? Now may be the time to use the air miles you’ve been accruing. But don’t delay — those miles may be subject to blackout dates during the holidays, so it’s best to explore your options as soon as you can.
Traveling for the holidays could be an expensive prospect this year. But it may be possible to lower your costs — and reduce the risk of ending the holiday season with a pile of debt in your name.
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