Plan Your Winter Vacation on a Budget

By | October 14, 2012

Summer is almost over, school has started, and now is the perfect time to start planning and saving for your winter traveling. Whether you’re taking a winter vacation to warmer parts of the world or visiting family for the holidays, planning ahead and booking now can save you hundreds of dollars on your trip.

Buy your plane tickets now. Typically, airlines start actively managing their cheapest seats about four months before departure. Check prices online for your flight and buy early, especially for holiday travel when prices go up. If possible, fly home on a Saturday (typically the cheapest day to travel) rather than Sunday (the most expensive day to travel).

Own a gas-guzzler? Rent a hybrid. For road trips, compare the cost of renting a fuel-efficient car to the price of filling up your current vehicle. Be sure to factor in space for passengers and suitcases, along with how much you’ll be using the vehicle once you reach your destination. Another option is to skip the flight and the car ride and simply take the train or bus. They are cheaper than flying and can be more convenient than a car if you’re not planning on driving once you reach your destination.

Stay with relatives or friends. Even if you’re vacationing for fun rather than a family gathering, stay with friends or relatives to reduce the cost of a hotel. Make sure your hosts know you plan to stay with them well in advance, especially if you’re not specifically visiting them. If possible, buy your own groceries and stay in for meals to further reduce travel expenses.

Use hotel loyalty programs. Hotels, just like many service industry businesses, are looking for loyal customers. Start building up points with your favorite hotel chain by taking “stay-cation” weekend trips now, then redeem those points during the holidays or for your destination vacation. The same concept applies to airlines. Stick with one airline as much as possible prior to your trip to stockpile miles.

Go all-inclusive. All-inclusive deals factor common vacation expenses into the price of the trip. The biggest advantage of an all-inclusive vacation is that you know exactly how much you’ll spend when you book the trip. Meals, drinks and activities are included in the rate rather than added on later, so you avoid accidentally over-spending on “extras.”

Planning your winter travel now will save you time and money when temperatures drop. Pick a destination and start saving now.

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