How To Save Money On Holiday Travel

Trying to save money on holiday travel this year? Check out our top money-saving suggestions, including using specialist apps for low-cost flights, flying on off-peak days, saving on airport parking, considering alternatives to flying, and traveling with a carry-on to avoid checked bag fees. Make your holiday journey
wallet-friendly with these savvy tips!

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Are you trying to save money on holiday travel? All the gift-giving and steeply-priced plane tickets certainly aren’t easy on the wallet, and if you haven’t been proactive in booking flights far ahead of time, you may feel doomed to spend more than you’re comfortable with.

Don’t worry! Team Knack has been on the move this year, logging hundreds of thousands of air miles journeying from our bases in Rhode Island and Oregon to 30 different States (yep, Hawaii, too!). Plus, we ventured off to cool international places like Iceland, Nicaragua, and Australia. During our travels, we gathered some really useful tips and to help you save money on holiday travel this year (and use that cash towards great gifts and amazing memories with your friends and family).

fly for holiday travel

Top Tips on How To Save Money On Travel this Holiday

    1. Use specialist apps to find the best price.
    2. Fly on off-peak days.
    3. Save on airport parking.
    4. Try alternatives to flying.
    5. Travel with a carry-on only.



use special airline apps to find the right price

Use specialist apps to find the best price

No one is predicting declines in the cost of flying this holiday season. And, if you’re like us, you probably put off booking. The good news is that it’s still not too late to get a great price! According to Google Flights, on average, the lowest-cost time to secure a Christmas flight is 22 days before your departure. And where can you find these low fares? Over the years, Team Knack found a couple flight-finder apps that we love for consistently finding super-low fares:

Hopper is one of our favorite free apps that allows you to book hotels and cars in addition to flights. The big difference between Hopper and Google Flights is that Hopper offers predictive analysis that looks up to 12 months in the future and tells you the cheapest time to book flights given your travel dates. If you decide not to book immediately, you can lock in the booking price and Hopper will send you real-time price-change alerts so you don’t miss a great deal. 

If you only need a one-way ticket, we really like Skiplagged, another free app. This app finds its way around airline pricing algorithms to get you low-cost, “hidden city” fares. It works like this: say you want to fly non-stop from Boston to Charleston this holiday but the ticket is really expensive. Skiplagged will find a lower-priced Boston to Miami ticket, with a stop in Charleston, and you simply don’t use the connecting Charleston to Miami flight. While it sounds great (and is great), we’ve found out the hard way that tickets booked on Skiplagged aren’t perfect. Although skiplagging, or hidden-city, ticketing isn’t illegal, airlines hate it. Usually, when they discover you haven’t used a leg of your ticket, they will cancel all of your subsequent flight segments. So, while Skiplagged allows you to book round trips, we only use it for cheap one-way tickets.



save money on holiday travel with  flying on off-peak days

Fly on off-peak days

If you haven’t booked your holiday flights yet, you can still save money by flying on off-peak dates - which often means the holidays themselves. While flying on Christmas Day is cheaper than flying on December 22nd (the most-expensive day to fly for the holiday) there tend to be very few flights scheduled. So, your best, and lowest-cost, bet is to fly Christmas Eve. According to our friends at Hopper, you can save 26% traveling on Christmas Eve versus peak fares.



Save on airport parking

Airport parking is an often-overlooked cost, and it can be significant, depending on where you live. For instance, parking lots at Los Angeles International Airport can go for up to $50 per day - a hefty chunk of change that you could spend elsewhere.

Pre-paying for airport parking is one of our favorite holiday travel savings tips. Almost all major US airports provide online reservations for on-site parking and many allow purchases up to 30 days before departure. Depending on the airport, you may save up to 40% in parking costs versus driving up to the same garage and parking in the same space on the day of your flight.

Another option if you have to drive to the airport is to find out if you’re able to rent out your car while you’re away with Avail. Avail is a car-sharing service at select airports that’ll rent your car out while you travel. Not only do you not have to pay for airport parking, but you can actually earn a little money.



Try alternatives to flying

Flying isn’t always the best way to get around, especially if you’re traveling less than 300 miles. Driving can be a good option during the holidays; you can leave whenever you want, and you’re able to carry all your presents with you. If you want to know whether the cost of driving or the cost of flying is lower, you can plug your vehicle and driving distance into GasBuddy to compare fuel costs.

Amtrak also has some good deals, and is a fun alternative to flying. Although trains aren’t quite as fast as airplanes, they’re less sensitive to the weather and, therefore, you’re less likely to experience a travel delay. Look for Amtrak promotions here, and keep in mind that students can save 15% on tickets.

>>MORE: Thanksgiving Travel and Packing Essentials Guide


save money on holiday travel with travel with a carry-on only

Travel with a carry on only

Checked bag fees can go as high as $75 per ticket with US airlines averaging $30 to $35 each way. But even when they’re not that high, having to check a bag twice for roundtrip flights can really add up - which is why it’s really awesome to be able to travel with just a carry-on. 

The Large Knack Pack makes for a fantastic carry-on bag for longer trips. At 46 liters when expanded, it has room for all of your bulky winter clothes, but it also complies with the carry-on allowance of most airlines. Plus, it’s hidden, expandable suitcase compartment lets you pack organized and remain organized during your trip. And unexpanded, the Large Knack will fit under the seats on most airlines.

>>MORE: How to Organize a Backpack for Travel

One last holiday hint. If you're traveling with wrapped gifts, you probably can’t fit them all into a carry-on bag, and you really don’t want to. Wrapped gifts that go through TSA checkpoints are subject to inspection, which means unwrapping them for the TSA agent.

How do you save money on holiday travel? We’d love to hear from you in the comments.

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