Getting home for the holidays can be expensive, but for many of us it’s non-negotiable. While it may be a little late to take advantage of early booking discounts, there’s still hope. Here’s a list of money-saving holiday travel tips and deals that will help you score an affordable flight, hotel, and rental car.
Are you searching for more tips on how to save money this holiday season? Check out our 12-week Holiday Helper series, with guides on how to create and stick to a holiday budget, holiday meal prep, and much more!
1. Tips for last-minute holiday flights
The truth is, if you haven’t booked your airfare already, then you’re probably going to pay a premium. But there are certain days that will cost less than others.
CheapAir tracks airfares and found some of the best Thanksgiving bargains on November 23, 24, 26, 27, and December 2.
The day before Thanksgiving is typically going to be the most expensive day to fly. Avoid flying home on Sunday (November 29). Monday (November 30) flights will be cheaper, but not necessarily a bargain.
Christmas and New Year’s Flights
CheapAir found bargains on December 22, 23, 24, 25, 29, 30, 31, and January 1 and 5.
They found that January 3 is going to be a very expensive day to travel, but if you can tack on two extra vacation days and fly home on January 5, you stand to save a substantial amount.
2. Book a flight + hotel combo
Consider a flight and hotel package to save money.
CheapTickets: Save $75 off flight and hotel packages with code CHEAPPKG75. (Exp. 11/8 — Travel by March 31, 2016)
BookingBuddy: Save up to 30% off flight and hotel booking package. (Exp. 1/31/2016)
Hotwire: Save up to $570 off flight and hotel packages. (Exp. 1/31/2016)
3. Avoid fees
If your suitcase is loaded with presents, you’re in danger of paying overweight baggage fees, so weigh your bags ahead of time at home. The simplest way is to step on a scale holding the bag and then subtract your weight. You can also find coupon codes for fee discounts.
CheapOair: Up to $15 off fees with code ADVENTURE15. (Exp. 12/31)
CheapOair: Up to $40 off fees for up to 3+ passengers with code COUPONS40. (Exp. 12/31)
4. Take advantage of new customer savings
Companies want to incentivize you to try out their products, so they will often offer some type of discount on your first booking.
Expedia: Get $25 off your first Expedia app hotel purchase. Visit the site to send a link to your phone for the free Expedia app and code. (Exp. 12/31)
Airbnb: Staying with the family isn’t for everyone. If you want your own space, consider renting through Airbnb. Earn a $20 credit for your first stay. (Exp. 1/31/2016)
Travelocity: Book your hotel on the Travelocity mobile app and save $25 off $99+ with code MOBILE25. (Exp. 12/31)
Hotwire: Sign up for Hotwire email alerts and get $10 off your next hotel plus exclusive offers. (Exp. 1/31/2016)
5. Get guaranteed low prices
Price matching isn’t just for big box stores. Purchase your travel through a site that guarantees the best price.
Expedia: Find a cheaper flight, hotel, vacation package, rental car, cruise, or activity within 24 hours of booking and Expedia will refund the difference plus give you a $50 travel coupon. (Exp. 1/31/2016)
6. Tips for holiday car rentals
Car rental price can range dramatically from less than $10 a day to over $100. Here are some general tips and a list of offers so you can make it to Thanksgiving dinner without breaking the bank.
Avoid one-way rentals. You’ll pay dearly when you return a car to a different location. It can more than double the price.
Qualify for a weekly rate. It may be worth it to rent a car for longer than you need. Companies typically start offering a weekly discount rate when you rent for 5 days or more. In some cases, it will also qualify you for coupon codes only valid on longer rentals.
Factor in membership discounts. In addition to coupon codes discounts, you may also qualify for membership discounts. Check for offers through AARP, AAA, or warehouse clubs like Costco.
Hertz: Save $5 off per day on qualifying weekend, weekly, or monthly car rental reservations with code PC# 306353. (Exp. 12/31)
Hertz: Get a free day on your next Hertz weekend car rental with code PC# 305734. (Exp. 1/31/2016)
Hertz: AAA members can save $20 off a Hertz Leisure Weekly rental with this printable coupon. (Exp. 12/31)
Alamo: Free single upgrade on compact through midsize cars with code AU5235ASJ. (Exp. 12/31)
Dollar: Save 15% off all car classes weekly rental with code SO15K. (Exp. 2/1/2016)
Dollar: Receive a free day of car rental when you rent at least 3 weekend days with code BDDFD. (Exp. 11/29)
Dollar: Save 10% off mid-size through full-size cars and mid-size SUV rentals and double Southwest airlines Rapid Rewards points with code WN69. (Exp. 11/29)
Thrifty: Take advantage of reciprocal programs between car rental companies and airline rewards points. Thrifty.com is offering double to quadruple miles on airlines like Southwest, Hawaiian, Alaska and American.
7. Use taxis and shuttles
Photo by pio3
Need to get from Point A to Point B without a car? Fortunately, you can also save on car services this holiday season.
SuperShuttle: Save 10% off total fare with code Q3A9K. (Exp. 11/30)
Uber: Get $15 off your first ride with code uberhyphy. (Exp/ 11/30)
Lyft: Save $20 off your first ride with code KEVIN21032. (Exp. 1/31/2016)