**This is a sponsored post written by me on behalf of KAYAK. All opinions are my own.
It doesn’t matter if you’re headed home to spend time with family or if you’re travelling south to get away from the winter, travelling during the holidays is one of the best things to do. The problem is, travelling during this time of the year can be expensive. Here are 11 holiday travel tips that will help you save money.
Use the right website
There are literally thousands of travel websites out there, but searching even a dozen of them can be time consuming. When you use KAYAK, the world’s leading travel search engine, you have a ton of different options with customization tailored specifically to you so you can find the perfect flight. Your search goes through all their trusted partners at the same time so you’ll easily find the flight, hotel, car rental or vacation package that fits your needs.
There’s technically an exact time you can get the lowest fare when booking a flight, but generally speaking, the earlier you book, the better it is for you. If your plan is to head home for the holidays, there’s really no point in waiting to purchase your tickets in hopes you’ll save a few dollars. In most cases, the closer you get to your departure date, the more you’ll end up paying for your airfare.
Christmas Eve, Christmas Day and New Year’s Eve are the busiest travel days which means higher prices and a good chance of delays. If you can travel a week before Christmas or after New Year’s, you’ll likely save some money and be less stressed. Even travelling between Tuesday – Thursday or on a mid-afternoon flight can save you some money since those dates and times are less desirable.
Set a price alert
There are many people out there who spend hours searching for the lowest airfare prices, but that’s not a good use of your time. You’re better off setting up a price alert where you get customized updates sent right your e-mail. All you need to do is put in your search criteria which includes your dates and locations, and you’ll be alerted on any price changes. By doing this, you can book when you see a price that you’re happy with. Remember, don’t wait until the last minute to book that flight!
Take an actual vacation
Most people travel during the holidays to see friends and family, but this is actually one of the best times to take a vacation since there are fewer crowds. If you’re flexible with your dates, keep an eye out on vacation packages as many of them could go on sale two weeks before the scheduled departure date. Some of this year’s trending holiday destinations according to KAYAK’s data include Belize City, Punta Cana, Cancun, and Curaçao. If you don’t feel like planning, you could always just join a tour with Contiki, Trafalgar, Intrepid Travel, or G Adventures. By joining a guided experience, you get all the logistics taken for you and you’ll usually spend less compared to if you planned everything on your own.
Use some of your points
If you’ve been collecting loyalty points, now might be a good time to cash them out. You may not be able to pay for all of your travel with your points, but if you can offset some of your expenses, that’s a win. Now if you’ve been holding onto those points hoping to claim a big trip in the future, keep in mind that your points could be devalued at any time which is why I always recommend using them whenever you can.
Use a travel rewards credit card
If you travel on a regular basis but don’t collect travel rewards points, you’re doing something wrong! There’s no need to be loyal to a specific airline program if you use one of the best travel rewards credit cards in Canada. With these cards, you earn travel points on everyday purchases. Best of all, the sign up bonuses are quite generous and could help you pay for your next flight. Don’t forget to pay off the full balance of your bill on time every month, the interest payments aren’t worth the rewards.
Consider a discount airline
Both Swoop and Flair Airlines started operating this year under the ultra-low cost carrier model which presents Canadians an opportunity to save if the flight paths work out for them. Keep in mind that these airlines charge extra for luggage (even carry on), but when you use KAYAK, their fee assistant shows you how flight prices change when you add more bags so you’ll know what the true price is before booking.
Pack food for the plane
If you’re flying within North America, meals are no longer included with basic airfare. Don’t get caught paying ridiculous prices at the airport or on the plane. Instead, pack some food or snacks with you. It’s also worth bringing an empty bottle with you to the airport so you can fill it up at the water fountain after you’ve cleared security.
Pre-book your airport parking
Parking at airports is expensive if you’re doing it on-site. A much cheaper option is to look for long-term lots. With many of these lots, they offer a discount if you book online in advance so don’t wait until you show up to pay. Alternatively, some airport hotels offer free parking if you stay a night with them which could end up being cheaper than airport lots. If you have an early morning flight, staying at a hotel the night before might pay for itself.
Get an international data plan
Mobile data can be really expensive when you travel outside of the country which is why you should always get an international data plan. Some cellular providers have automatic plans such as Rogers’ Roam Like Home where you’re charged a set amount per day. This is incredibly convenient since there’s no chance that you’ll come back home to a large bill due to excessive data use.