Ask the Readers: How Do You Save on Holiday Travel?

By Ashley Jacobs on 18 December 2012 (Updated 26 December 2012) 41 comments
Photo: Mat Honan

Editor's Note: Congratulations to Monica, Elena, and Lynda for winning this week's contest!

We are officially in the midst of the holiday season and many of us have travel plans! Whether you are headed to family or friend's homes for the holidays, if you are traveling chances are you are trying to figure out how to save on your holiday travel plans. From accomodations to transportation to food and more, there are many ways for you to save on holiday travel!

How do you save on holiday travel? Do you buy plane tickets in advance? Stay with family or friends to save on accomodations? Opt to drive instead of fly? Take advantage of deals on daily deals sites to save on food expenses?

Tell us how you save on holiday travel and we'll enter you in a drawing to win a $20 Amazon Gift Card!

Win 1 of 3 $20 Amazon Gift Cards

We're doing three giveaways — here's how you can win!

Mandatory Entry: 

  • Post your answer in the comments below. One commenter will win a $20 Amazon Gift Card!

For extra entries:

  • You can tweet about our giveaway for an extra entry. Also, our Facebook fans can get an extra entry too! Use our Rafflecopter widget for your chance to win one of the other two Amazon Gift Cards:
  • a Rafflecopter giveaway

    If you're inspired to write a whole blog post OR you have a photo on flickr to share, please link to it in the comments or tweet it.

    Giveaway Rules:

    • Contest ends Monday, December 24th at 11:59 pm Pacific. Winners will be announced after December 24th on the original post. Winners will also be contacted via email.
    • You can enter all three drawings — once by leaving a comment, once by liking our Facebook update, and once by tweeting.
    • This promotion is in no way sponsored, endorsed or administered, or associated with Facebook.
    • You must be 18 and US resident to enter. Void where prohibited.

Also, don't miss our Best Deals giveaway! Every Sunday for the next five weeks, we will be giving away a $50 Amazon gift card, two copies of our book 10,001 Ways to Live Large on a Small Budget, and a Wise Bread tote! We will also be giving away a $100 Amazon gift card to one lucky winner who fills out our Best Deals survey. For details, click here!

Good Luck!

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Guest's picture
Kate

I drive home instead of flying, and carpool with my boyfriend. 7+ hrs in the car goes by much faster that way too!

Guest's picture

We travel with family giving us more time together and making it extra special.

Guest's picture
Mary Happymommy

We drive instead of fly.

Guest's picture
lostAnnfound

We don't have to travel far. Usually Christmas is either at my sister's or my brother's house and they each live about 20-30 minute away, depending on traffic. The one thing we make sure we do is gas up the vehicles a few days before the holiday to avoid spikes in price & the long lines.

Guest's picture
Christie

Live near your parents and family and don't travel over the holidays! (Yes, you might have to take a pay cut, yes, it might not be the place you want to be the most, but possible babysitters, close relationships between generations, and the ability to stay home during the holidays is absolutely lovely.) Besides, vacations can actually be vacations, not relative visits.

Guest's picture

I watch for cheap fares as soon as they become available and grab them!

Guest's picture
Guest

I save on travel by staycationing.

Guest's picture
Becca

My family is across the country so I have to travel by plane, but I use Kayak and Bing to see when I should buy my tickets.

Guest's picture
Elena

We drive istead of flying

Guest's picture
cenderl

We usually try to avoid it if we can but generally carpooling, not flying, and doing the crab-walk to get to where we need to go are all helpful.

Guest's picture
Sandra

Stay home and cook dinner for guests.

Guest's picture
Jennie

We pack super light so Mom, Dad & toddler can all share one suitcase (and one airline baggage fee)!

Guest's picture

I research RetailMeNot.com for coupon codes before booking!

Guest's picture
Mel

I spend time looking for the best flight deals and I fly carry-on only so I don't pay baggage fees. Finally, I try to pack my own book and snacks so I don't pay the exorbitant airport prices for reading materials and trail mix. :)

Guest's picture
Happy Love

We drive and stay with family.

Guest's picture
David

Because the airfares are usually so expensive, I try to save money by NOT buying food or drinks at the airport, by NOT checking bags. I also try to do cheap things like enjoy the Christmas decorations and illuminations.

Guest's picture
Debra K

We have done the driving instead of flying thing. When we fly, we buy tickets as far in advance as we can when we see a sale or good price. We also stay with relatives or book a hotel through a website that will get us 50% off the hotel.

Guest's picture
Guest

We save money by not traveling during the holidays. We prefer to visit family during calmer times when flights are cheaper, the airports are less crowded and we're less likely to get sick.

Guest's picture
Rebecca B. A. R.

I only have to drive to our Christmas events, but we do send a few gifts through the mail, so we don't spend money on gas in delivering.

Guest's picture
Scott

I use kayak and fiddle around with the dates to find the best airline prices. Since airlines are charging for checked luggage, I will only have carry-on luggage, which means my nieces and nephews will be getting hugs for Christmas this year. Also, I will not buy anything on the plane or at the airport.

Guest's picture
Lynda

buy my tickets in advance or drive instead.

Guest's picture

I travel home at New Years rather than Christmas - so it's more of an off-peak time.

Guest's picture
Therese

We travel by car and bring snacks for the trip.

Donna Freedman's picture

The Megabus! I've paid as little as $1 a ticket.

Guest's picture

Xbox-360Deals.net is one of the better known deal sites and includes everything from tech gadgets to Electronic and Games from Microsoft Stores.
They also have over 800 coupons that you can use at your favorite stores. Very clean interface and easy to use web site.
xbox 360 console deals

Guest's picture
amanda

We just cram everything in in 2 days.

Guest's picture
Monica

I'm flying red-eye on Christmas night to save money this year. I saved almost $80

Guest's picture
Brenda Faulkner

Go through a travel agency - they always have good deals

Guest's picture
Stefanie

We don't travel much during the holidays! We don't live near our relatives, but we try to visit at other times of year in order to avoid the prices and hassle of holiday travel.

The best way to "travel" at this time of year: via Skype! Last year we spent a lovely xmas morning with my partner's family from 3000 miles away. We also send videos to our niece on my side of the family with us reading books to her - she loves them and gets to know us from across the country too!

Guest's picture
Charles

We don't live far enough for flying, and we would never stay in a hotel rather than with our family. We try to use our more fuel-efficient car. I also had some basic maintenance done on the car this past weekend. We'll try to get all of our holiday traveling done in one weekend -so we don't have to make any unnecessary trips.

Guest's picture
Guest

Easy -- I never ever travel anywhere on any holiday. It's just too much trouble fighting the crowds, putting up with way too many people trying to pack themselves into crowded airline seats that cost way too much over any holiday. On any holiday, I make it a practice never to drive anywhere, take a train anywhere or fly anywhere. I save my travel for off-peak times. It's cheaper and much easier, and much safer, too.

Guest's picture
Alex H

I do a few things to save on travel.
1) I take the bus. Living near a major city like Boston is nice because there are a plethora of transportation options available to connect to other major citites. There are at least three bus services that connect Boston to places like New York, Philadelphia and Washington, D.C. Sure it takes a bit longer, but if you're up for a road trip, you can save ridiculous amounts of money.
2) I book in advance. Especially with the bus services, arranging your travel plans at least three weeks in advance will almost always help you save even more money. If you're able to set your plans in stone by months, I've seen bus trips between major cities for as little as $1.00. Why not plan ahead?

Guest's picture
jamie

My family is 2k+ miles away, so driving isn't an option. Flying on holiday itself, though, is. When shopping for tickets, I use the flexible dates feature starting on the holiday itself and use the +/- 3 days to get a chart of similar dates. I choose the cheapest, which is usually on the holiday itself for either the start or the end of the trip.

Of course, I'm not that sentimental about the actual holiday itself, and though my parents kind of are, they're also very practical and are never upset to stretch out holiday traditions a little longer to accommodate me saving a big chunk of cash on a plane ticket.

The airports are always quieter on the holiday itself, too, making for a less stressful trip.

Guest's picture
kristina

We pretty much don't venture far from home during the holidays.

Guest's picture
Betty

I only drive to my brother's, which doesn't cost too much. I also cook from scratch, which saves money. Happy holidays!

Guest's picture
Jean

Except for cross-country trips (and those are never at "holiday" times), we drive. To save on accomodations, we made black-out window covers and built a removable bed base in our minivan using plywood and metal coffee-table-height legs, toss on camping mats with foam toppers and sleeping bags and sleep in the van en route. With the addition of a down comforter on top, we've slept comfortably in temps down into the mid-20's. Getting up at those temps is rather "refreshing", granted, but the van warms quickly once we're on the road again. With a porta-potty and cooler/food box tucked into the storage space under the bed, our travel expenses are reduced to basically the cost of the gas.

Guest's picture
Bethany

We give up our seats for incredible vouchers and free first class upgrades.

Guest's picture
DeeDee

Thankfully we don't have far to go so this is not a problem for us.

Guest's picture
Carmen

We try and book early, stay with friends and family when possible (we get to spend more time with them too), and make sure we have snacks along for the trip to avoid unexpected food purchases

Guest's picture
KelR1

I still live very near my family so, luckily, I don't have to travel for the holidays. But, if I did, I would try to make it a road trip whenever possible and stay at a reasonable rather than a luxury hotel. (Yes, staying with the fam would be free, but it would be much more sanity-saving and worth it to me to retreat to a hotel after some time with them!) :)

Guest's picture
Tina

We recently drove halfway across the country to be home for the holidays. We saved money by buying fruit, veggies, sandwich fixings, and other food items before we left. We also made a gallon of iced tea the night before. When we stopped for gas we made sandwiches, refilled our cups from home, and organized for the next leg of the trip. We also went to the library and borrowed books on CD, some novels, some for learning a language, some non-fiction. We made the trip in 16 hours and were exhausted but felt better than if we'd eaten fast food the whole way!