Regardless of how you determine the official or unofficial kick-off date for “the holiday season,” one thing is almost certainly inevitable: you’ll be traveling. As in, you’ll be caravanning your way across the state to visit extended family members and friends.
Or, even more likely, you’ll be scouting the web for the best flight deals during the last few months of the year. So, how do you save money on flights this season? Because, let’s face it, you’ll need some extra funds to buy gifts.
The answer lies in being strategic about where your money goes. Search for travel deals with a strategy in mind and don’t forget how small changes in your itinerary can add up to a lot in savings. Here’s a few travel pointers that will help you save money on flights. Remember—every penny counts this season. God speed, friend.
Carpool to the airport
Sounds simple, but taking an Uber or a taxi to the airport can cost almost a third of your actual travel ticket. That’s why this is also the season of asking friends, roommates, and family to drop you off and pick you up from the airport. Just be courteous enough to give enough advance notice and be sure to return the favor when the time comes!
If you must opt for a rideshare option, give yourself some extra commuting time and opt for a carpool option. Consider the extra savings a way to counterbalance a future lunch.
Take a red-eye or opt for a connecting flight
OK, no one loves taking a red-eye. (If you do, we’d like to hear from you and how you make it work.) But, unless you’re truly pressed for time, many people opt for red-eye flights for the extra savings. Weight your options and don’t rule out a red-eye flight.
If travel time isn’t an issue, opt for a flight that has a stop or connecting flight at an airport. You’ll have a few extra hours to spend at the airport, but you’ll save on the overall flight cost.
If possible, don’t fly out the Wednesday before Thanksgiving
We’re going to put this one just as a gentle reminder: Booking your travel on the day before or immediately after a major holiday is very, very costly. Airlines know that it’s inevitable a certain percentage of fliers will travel as close as possible to a holiday. Analyze the pros and cons of flying earlier or later during the holiday week and how much you could save.
Pack your snacks and meal before the airport
Planning on spending quite a bit of time at the airport? We’ll admit there’s no shortage of what you can buy at an airport these days—and food is a the top of the list.
But do yourself a favor and pack some snacks before you go. Just make sure it’s spill-proof, leak-proof, and something that TSA won’t have any issues with.
Book one-way with different airlines
Consider booking your flight with a different airline. It might mean you have to double and triple check what the carry-on and luggage check-in requirements are for each, but the savings could be major. When booking, make sure to allocate yourself enough time to get your luggage to and from each airline.
You don’t want to risk booking two flights that are too close in time, either. Running in the airport isn’t anyone’s fave.
Clear your browser history when booking flights
All the cookies and data stored on your browser might make surfing the internet more efficient for you. But, it could also cost you—big. If you’re trying to save money on flights, be sure to clear your browser history, cookies, cache, and if possible, browse under an incognito screen on Google Chrome.
Airlines are known to store your data and might show you higher prices if they know you’ve been eyeing flights to a certain city.
Have your family celebrate a weekend in January
Last, but not least, let’s keep this in mind: You can always spend time with your loved ones outside of the holiday season. If travel arrangements and accommodations prove too costly this year, take the initiative and suggest a gathering in January. Consider it an extension of the New Year’s celebrations. Worth a try!