If it hasn’t already been made abundantly clear by retailers around the country, the holiday season is upon us. Mixed in with the prospects of celebrations with friends and family, exchanging thoughtful gifts with loved ones and taking those much-needed end-of-year vacations, lay the implications of what the holidays mean to our wallets.
We find ourselves asking questions like: “How expensive is it going to be to get to my parents’ place for Thanksgiving?” or “Does my sister really need that $300 espresso machine for her new apartment?”
With so many people flying home to their families on Thanksgiving, I thought I’d take some time to pepper in a little advice where I could. As someone whose job requires him to travel all across the country several times a month without evaporating the organization’s entire budget, I’ve become quite the savvy itinerant (not to toot my own horn).
So here are some helpful tips to get from A to B in the most economical fashion:
Don’t Check Your Luggage
Stick to carry-ons whenever possible. You’re taking a four-day weekend, maybe five if you’re lucky. There’s no reason to bring your entire wardrobe.
I get it, you have lots of cute dresses that are “perfect” for the occasion and maybe you do own a jersey for all six football teams playing on Turkey Day, but take only what you need and leave the rest at home.
Baggage fees will tack on at least $50 round-trip on most carriers. Unless you fly Southwest…then pack whatever you want and enjoy the seating free-for-all when boarding the plane.
Bring Snacks To the Airport
Unfortunately, the TSA has us in a vice when it comes to liquids, so you’ll have to cough up the dough for any drinks (unless you bring your own water bottle and fill it up after security). But there’s no need to spend your money on food either at the airport or on the plane.
Gone are the days where you could get free meals on most domestic flights while riding in coach. When I last flew from Las Vegas to New York — a 6 hour flight — we weren’t even offered free pretzels. Eat before you leave for the airport and bring enough snacks to tide you over while you wait. I suggest Cheddar Chex Mix. It’s divine.
As an added bonus, snacking doubles as a great way to entertain yourself in the event that your plane is stuck on the tarmac for hours because there’s hydraulic fluid leaking out of the front (Yes. I’m still bitter).
Think About How You’re Getting to the Airport.
This may seem like an obvious one. Getting to the airport is the first major step in making your flight. However, you don’t always have to jump to a car service or a cab to get you there.
Driver services aren’t the only money pit. Be careful if you plan to drive yourself: most airport lots have exorbitantly high daily parking charges. If driving, always opt for the cheaper “Park and Ride” option.
Even the most introverted, anti-social of those among us have some semblance of a circle of friends. Chances are good that if you ask nicely or offer to chip in for gas, they‘ll help you out. After all, it’s Thanksgiving: be good to one another.
One final option is to try and plan your itineraries around those of your other friends that are traveling and share a cab to split the cost.
Sites like Expedia and Travelocity can help you find the cheapest deals on flights and hotels if you don’t have a place to crash for the weekend. A word of warning: online booking services may also be accompanied by more strict cancellation policies. It pays to be aware of the agency’s specific rules before you hit that CONFIRM button.
Similarly, some airlines such as Frontier host much less expensive flights than the competitors (and some, like Southwest only advertise their prices on their own websites). Contrary to popular belief, budget planes aren’t held together with duct tape. I flew an airline called Ryanair throughout all of Europe that had a similar business model and I’m still here today to write this article.
Have any tips of your own? Share your story below!