Reduce the Hidden Costs of Holiday Travel

It’s officially the holidays. And if you are like many Americans, you’ll soon be loading the car or catching a flight to visit your family and friends. But the trip and your holiday shopping list may leave your wallet feeling the wintertime blues. Fortunately, there are a number of ways you can trim costs en route to your holiday destination.

Recommendations for Road Trippers

  • Carpool: See if you have a friend who needs a lift. Not only will you have someone to talk to, but also you can split expenses, such as gas and highway tolls.
  • Rent based on fuel efficiency: If you’re renting a car, don’t go for the snazziest vehicle. Opt for something that provides good fuel efficiency; a car that gets at least 30 mpg can save you a lot of money at the pump.
  • Get a tune-up: Before hitting the road in your own car, have a professional make sure your vehicle is in tip-top shape. This will save you the frustration and cost of paying for a tow truck, repairs, and a rental should your car break down.
  • Pack a cooler: Instead of surviving off meals from restaurants and truck stops, pack a cooler with some nutritious eats, such as sandwiches, carrot sticks, and trail mix.
  • Grab your gifts: If you’ve done your holiday shopping in advance, pack your gifts in your car. This will save you the expense of having them mailed ahead of time.
  • Bring your pet: Although your pooch or kitty may like being pampered at a fancy pet hotel, you easily can spend several hundred dollars on boarding for the holidays. Why not save some money and include Fido in the festivities?

Tips for Air Travelers

  • Arrive early: Missing a flight not only is a hassle, but also it can be an expensive mistake. If your airfare is nonrefundable, you’ll have to shell out hundreds for a last-minute reservation.
    Visit the airport website to find out security wait times, road conditions, and parking lot capacities. This will help you judge how early you need to leave for the airport. The recommended time of arrival is at least two hours before your flight.
    Contact the airline immediately if you know ahead of time that you aren’t going to make your flight. You may be able to change your reservation for a fee. Although it’s not free, it will almost certainly be cheaper than waiting until your flight has taken off.
  • Sneak in snacks: All those airport restaurants might seem tempting, but prices inside the terminals tend to be sky high. Instead, pack some snacks to satisfy your appetite. Just remember that in order to bring food through security, it can’t be a liquid.
  • Bring entertainment: Include books, magazines, crossword puzzles, and anything else that might occupy your time while you wait for your flight or possible delays. Also, make sure to fully charge your electronics in advance so that you can listen to music and play applications you’ve previously downloaded. This will prevent you from spending your down time shopping at the airport’s retail outlets.
  • Ship your presents: Most airlines charge for each checked bag. To cut down on these extra costs, do your holiday shopping online, and have the retailer ship the gift to your destination. Alternatively, you can buy smaller items that can easily tuck into your carry-on.

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