5 Tips to Afford Going Home for the Holidays

You thought that New Year’s Eve dress was a must until your January credit card statement comes in and bam! The holiday hangover hits. How can you nurse the hangover before it even starts?

Americans really like to spend money on the holidays with more than half devoting at least a full paycheck to the celebration.  But, that doesn’t mean getting home for the festivities has to be expensive or stressful.  If you have a plan and a budget, you can get from door to door on the cheap and worry free.

Here are 5 tips to bring on the holiday cheer without breaking the bank:

Plan Ahead

The earlier you can book your flight, hotel or rental car the better! Booking last minute will lead to surge fees and definitely put a damper on your holiday spirit.  It’s totally easy to get wrapped up in everyday life, but planning ahead for these special occasions will really help your wallet — and your sanity!

Want to avoid sleeping on the floor or minimize your drama exposure, but don’t want to shell out for a hotel?  Reach out to another family (that you get along with!) or friends to rent an Airbnb together. You’ll have that oasis for downtime and you won’t bust your budget to get it.

Pro tip: Did you know that Charlie can help you manage your holidays travel money?  Just tell him that you need your budgeted amount of cash by your travel date. For example, tell Charlie: “Save $500 by December 15th for the holidays.”

He’ll tell you how much you need to save per week to meet your goal.  He’ll also remind you to transfer that money from your checking account to your savings account (so that you don’t accidentally spend it on something else!).

Be Flexible

Believe it or not, what day and time you travel can have a huge effect on cost.  Flying out on Tuesday or Wednesday will get you the best deals.  And, if you can travel a week in advance of the holiday, you ’ll also score a great fare. (You can also save money flying out the morning of said holiday, while other travelers have already reached their destinations.)

Check multiple airports to fly in and out of, and multiple airlines to compare costs.  It might even be cheaper to book two one way tickets than a round-trip ticket, or vice versa. 

If reasonable, compare the costs of driving, taking the train or Megabus, or speed rail with the costs of flying.  You may find out that a road trip saves some serious cash (and can be serious fun with the right playlist).  Plus, driving your own car will save on rental costs and painful airport parking fees.

Build your Toolbox

If you travel regularly, make sure to leverage your frequent flier miles to reduce the price of your flight home.  Your credit cards may also offer perks that can help cover costs, get discounts, get cash back and earn even more rewards (for your next adventure)!

While booking your flights, rentals, and accommodations, use aggregator websites to get bundle deals and savings.  To get the best travel deals, aggregator sites pull pricing data from all over the web, eliminating the need to spend hours checking and comparing individual sites.   

Travel Light

You bought a cute suitcase thinking it would fit in the overhead compartment.  Spoiler alert: it probably doesn’t.  And to make matters worse, most airlines charge additional fees starting at $25 to check a bag.  To save money, try to pack outfits you can easily wear day and night, and only bring what you can fit in your carry on (the true carry on) luggage.

Not sure what to do with the family gifts?  If you’re ordering online, ship them straight home to wrap up or ship them directly to the lucky recipients.  If shipping isn’t an option, opt for in-store pickup at a location close to the festivities.

Not only will you save in checked baggage fees, but you’ll have less to lug around and won’t have to worry about the TSA opening up your gifts to inspect them.

Come Prepared

Buying anything while in transit is going to hurt your wallet.  If you bring your own snacks and refillable water bottle, you can save a decent chunk of change skipping the airport restaurants or gas station offerings.

Bottom line:  If you get creative and put in some planning time, you can be exactly where you want to be for the holidays– surrounded by the people that you love.  And you won’t go broke doing it!

Tell Charlie:  What is your best money saving travel tip?