Travel Tip #1: Book Early or Book Late
While travel during the holidays is expensive no matter what, you can sometimes secure a small discount by booking your trip as soon or as late as possible. If you are traveling by plane, the best time to purchase domestic tickets is around three months from the date of travel. Early booking guarantees a seat and (oftentimes) a discount. But travelers who have more flexibility can wait until the last minute for steep discounts. According to the TSA, people have begun to travel more as we move closer to winter. This is compared to a decrease of around two million in travelers since April, compared to last year.1
Travel Tip #2: Be Aware of Additional Costs
More and more airlines are charging baggage fees and eliminating free in-flight food, drinks and entertainment. In fact, the pandemic has nearly eliminated food services on most airlines. Find out what is not included with the price of a ticket and plan accordingly by bringing your own snacks and tablet loaded with the latest binge-worthy shows.
Travel Tip #3: Use Local Coupons and Deal Sites
Many travelers forget to use deal and coupon websites when they travel. It’s good to remember that many of the same money-saving sites you use every day could be used for travel in other states. If you plan on going the tourist route once you arrive at your destination, you can save money by looking into local deals.
Travel Tip #4: Reduce or Eliminate Your Hotel Bill
Paying for accommodations while you are away from home is most likely to be one of your most significant expenses - but it doesn't have to be. The CDC recommends avoiding contact and maintaining social distancing, so going with a hotel is your best option.2 And the recent reduction in travel may have impacted your location, resulting in lower hotel costs. If you’re staying in a location for a longer duration, consider a sublet. This can come with additional savings, especially on food, as you can purchase groceries and eat out less - saving money and reducing interaction with those outside of your household.
Travel Tip #5: Reduce Your Food Costs
Eating on the road is expensive, especially if you are heading to a popular destination. In a tourist area, even a basic meal can cost much more than what you would pay back at home. Save money by preparing as many meals as you can where you are staying or by bringing prepared food on a shorter trip. If you are unable to carry or cook your own food, look online for supermarkets or delis which offer prepared food. This can be significantly less expensive than a typical restaurant.
Travel Tip #6: Avoid Buying Alcohol
Many states have closed their bars for safety. But if you find a location with open bars, consider saving money and increasing your safety by limiting your alcohol intake or getting drinks to-go (if legal in your area). If you do choose to imbibe, try buying a bottle at the supermarket or liquor store for a much better deal.
Travel Tip #7: Follow COVID-19 Travel Precautions
The CDC provides travel recommendations for those who have to travel during the pandemic.3 When preparing for your trip, remember to bring extra hand sanitizer and masks, since finding proper sanitizing products can be more challenging on the road. Be aware of the infection rates and restrictions of the state you will be traveling to. In addition, avoid touching objects and surfaces that others may use and make sure to wash your hands before touching your eyes and mouth.
Traveling during the pandemic is challenging, but not impossible. And while you have the added pressure of staying safe, following these money-saving hacks can help keep you within your budget as well.