| December 13, 2012

Don’t let holiday travel ruin your budget

Traveling for the holidays shouldn't ruin your families gift giving budget.
The holidays are typically an expensive time for individuals and families, and travel costs can take a significant chunk out of a person’s income. Between airline and bus tickets, hotel stays, baggage fees and rental vehicles, holiday travel alone can rise into the thousands and quickly derail an individual’s budgeting goals. To avoid these high costs without canceling plans, there are a few guidelines consumers can follow to keep costs low.

It’s important that consumers put aside any guilt for not being able to make every occasion, and instead be more selective about where they plan to spend the holidays. Airline, train and bus tickets are typically higher during the end of the year, and booking multiple tickets can quickly result in limited discretionary funds or credit card debt. Instead, travelers may put themselves in a better financial position by limiting their travel plans to a single location. A nice alternative for cash-strapped individuals is inviting family and friends to travel to them.

For those who did not book their flights early, it’s also crucial to comparison shop. In many instances, people only look toward budget websites such as Expedia, Hotwire and Travelocity. Flights that are book directly through the airline itself is an untapped resource for many consumers, so it’s always a good idea for individuals to include airlines in their search for the lowest prices.

Flexibility may lead to more savings
Individuals who are planning a holiday away from home may consider foregoing the traditional hotel room, and instead seek out lesser-known alternatives. For example, renting a condo for a week may be more affordable than spending $200 per night at a hotel for several days. In addition, house swaps are becoming increasingly more popular as travelers seek out budget traveling.

Further, flying may be the ideal way to travel because it’s fast and convenient. For consumers who are trying to stick to a money management plan, however, it may be worth it to forego this more expensive option, and instead look for a bus or train ticket. In some cities, bus tickets to another metropolitan area may be as low as $20 or $30 dollars with no additional fees for baggage. Many people may opt for more convenient arrangements around the busy holiday season, but being more flexible may help them avoid a debt hangover when the new year rolls around.

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