8 Tips to save money when flying this holiday season

 In Holidays

Holiday travel and saving money don’t seem to walk hand in hand but there are a few ways that you can cut your costs this season. Get creative about when and where you travel, look for promo codes from airlines and hotels popping up each week, and carry as much on as possible are three ways to get you started, but there is so much more.

Fly on the holiday

Flying the Wednesday before Thanksgiving and a day or two before Christmas can cost you a pretty penny. Look at flights on Thanksgiving Day, Christmas Day and New Years Day for discounted flights. New Years Eve is also a cheaper day to fly since everyone will want to be at parties and not ringing in the new year at the airport.

Get a ride to the airport

Parking at the airport is expensive. Cash in those favors you are owed and get a ride for you and the kids to the airport. Offer to pay for gas or have a friend drive your car to the airport and park it back at your house. If your friends are out-of-town, price out a cab or car service. It may cost a little more, but it could save you a bit of stress and time at the airport.

Arrive at the airport early

Don’t miss your flight like we did five years ago because our car service never showed up. Plan on getting to the airport extra early if you are flying for the holidays.

Pack only carry-on bags

If you don’t want to deal with your bags on the flight, offer to gate check your bag. Most flights will be looking for more bags to check once you get to the gate since everyone will want to carry their suitcase onboard.

Ship your gifts

Don’t pay those overweight baggage and extra bag fees if you don’t have to. Have gifts shipped directly to your destination through the vendor or before you leave home. Just make sure you chose the shipping option that will guarantee you have your stuff in time. Alternately, when you are coming back home with presents, grab a paper box and check it as a bag at the airport, especially if everyone is not using their baggage allowance. A $25 fee for a box packed full of books and toys can cost much less than shipping through the post office.

Fly off season

If you don’t HAVE to be there for the holidays, consider flying out to see family in January or February, when tickets can be cheaper to many parts of the country. Celebrate the holidays in the new year.

Go international

International flights over the holidays can be cheaper than domestic flights. Snatch up a few deals if you find them and experience Christmas in Europe this year.

Do not check prices after you book

Do not drive yourself crazy after you book your flight by checking for cheaper flights. After cancellation fees and booking a new flight you will rarely come out ahead.

Travel safely and sanely this holiday season. When delays happen, take a deep breath. It will all work out OK in the end. Give your family an extra kiss and be thankful when you are together this year.

Want more holiday travel tips? Read our Holiday Survival Guide (Air Travel Edition) and Parents’ Guide to Flying with a Baby Over the Holidays.


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Showing 2 comments
  • Kate @WildTalesof...

    Love your last suggestion the best! That’s what my husband does–and it just drives him crazy! But there have been a couple of times when it paid off–and the airline (pretty sure it was Alaska each time) simply refunded us the difference without any extra fees…not sure the rules there though. We’ve definitely flown on the actual holidays too–not ideal, but when you just want to spend time with family, the actual day you see them doesn’t matter as much!

  • Cheryl @ KidsOnAPlane

    While we don’t fly during the holidays (mainly because we can travel during a slower season since our kids are younger and don’t have strict school rules yet), we do a lot of or traveling after the holidays – January and February. Like you mentioned, the savings are incredible during that time of year.

    I liked the suggestion of shipping your gifts ahead of time – it gives you peace of mind that presents make it to the recipient on time and in one piece (because who knows what can happen to checked luggage during a busy time like the holidays).

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