7 Ways to Save Money on Holiday Travel

December trips don't need to break your budget. Here's how to save.


Holiday travel can be a daunting experience, even for those of us who are seasoned travelers. From airport check-in lines to extra baggage fees, the cost of visiting friends and relatives often causes headaches, and January credit card bills. Thankfully, we live in a time where almost everyone has the power to save money with a few clicks online.

Here are seven strategies that will help you save on travel this season:

[See 12 Money Mistakes Almost Everybody Makes.]

Search Local

While many powerhouses dominate online bookings, there are also thousands of local websites which target specific markets. For example LasVegasHotels.com focuses specifically on Las Vegas hotel deals and contains a wealth of content on the best buffets in Vegas, how to throw the ultimate Vegas bachelor party and even tips on visiting Las Vegas with Kids. Always try to visit a destination specific website instead of just shopping the big brands. Many differences also exist in search results between local search extensions. Going international? Always try an accommodation search through the country specific search engine like Google.es (Spain) or Google.com.au (Australia) in addition to the US versions.

Read Reviews

Independent traveler reviews will almost always save you money. Whether its helping you decide not to choose a particular hotel or an unexpected tip for your overall travel plans barely any traveler visits a destination without sourcing some kind of opinion. Stay focused on the word independent and not get wrapped up by the marketing efforts of any particular travel company.

Search for Coupon Codes

Ever checkout and see an “Insert Promotional Code here" box just before pressing submit. Well, it’s certainly not there for design and thousands of companies have coupon codes floating around online. Before purchasing any flight, hotel or even presents always search for “Vender + coupon code” or “Vendor + promotional code.” 

Avoid Currency Exchange in US Airports

Planning a trip overseas? While many international airports have reasonable currency exchange rates you can easily lose 5 or 10 percent if you exchange dollars at a currency exchange store at a US airport. Always check with your bank about buying foreign currency before you travel and double check what fees are associated with taking cash out of a foreign ATM machine. Never use a currency exchange store at a US airport before boarding a plane if you can avoid it.

[Visit the U.S. News My Money blog for the best money advice from around the web.]

Rental Car Insurance

Inevitably you will be asked to purchase rental car insurance if you need to rent a vehicle this holiday season so call your car insurance company before heading to the airport and ask about what coverage you already have. Many car insurance policies automatically extend insurance to rental cars and you can avoid paying for any duplicate coverage while away.

Prepay Baggage Fees

Some airlines allow you an option to prepay baggage fees when checking in online. This can save you both time and money on your holiday flight.

Use Cash-Back Credit Cards

What better feeling is there to earn money back on your purchases? With the right credit card you can save money and earn cash back on your purchases. 

The holiday season is all about giving but try to avoid giving away your money to corporations and your credit card bills will congratulate you once all the eggnog and candy canes are gone.

Alan Dunn is a Serial Entrepreneur and publisher of various consumer education websites, including a site with tips on how to save money and a destination for drivers to compare car insurance rates.