10 Small Things You Can Do Today to Get Ahead (And Save Money!) on Holiday Travel

published Oct 23, 2018
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(Image credit: Melanie Rieders)
(Image credit: Apartment Therapy)

For 10 days at the end of October, Apartment Therapy wants to help you get ahead on the holidays. Together, we’re checking off doable daily tasks to get one step closer to the effortless holiday season you deserve. Sign up now (it’s free!) so you don’t miss a thing.

Seeing old friends and catching up with family are some of the very best things about end-of-year travel. But before you can roast marshmallows, sing carols, and toast champagne, you’ve got to go through a few headache-inducing moments. And we’re not even talking about battling those endless airport security lines. We’re just talking about booking your holiday travel.

Even the seemingly-small task of organizing travel plans can be overwhelming; the emotional labor of confirming dates and scouring for the best price can feel like a full-time job during this busy time of year.

But lucky for you, we’re doing this Holiday Jumpstart thing, so you’re actually right on schedule to make things happen and find some great deals. (So there’s more room in the budget for all the good stuff!)

(Image credit: Oscar Wong/Getty Images)

DAY 2:

Do one thing to solidify your travel plans.

The holidays usually involve some sort of traveling—whether we’re talking about packing the car for a day trip or flying halfway around the world. So today, we’re focused on making plans for getting where you need to go.

If You’re Driving

If you know you’re road tripping in your own car—even just for a day—you can stay ahead of the game by scheduling an appointment to have your tires and other parts of your car inspected (an oil change, if you’re due for one).

If you’re renting a ride to get you where you need to go, check for discounts. You may be able to score deals through your company or club memberships (like AAA), a discount for being a student, or sometimes even lower prices just for being an alumnus from a certain college. It always pays to check with your HR department or your preferred car rental company before you book. There’s also a section of the travel service Kayak dedicated to searching for car rentals, to help you find the best prices.

Whether you’re renting or driving yourself, you could also plan to team up with friends, family or coworkers to carpool this holiday. Company will make the ride go faster, and you can split the costs of gas and the car rental.

Do one thing today:

  • Schedule an appointment for car maintenance
  • Check for car rental deals through work or clubs
  • Book the car rental
  • Find people to carpool with

If You’re Flying

Based on last year’s holiday travel data, Kayak recommends booking domestic Christmas flights four weeks out from the holiday—around the end of November—that’s when median prices were lowest last year. (Five weeks out was the low-price sweet spot for international flights.)

But your mileage may vary (literally). If you want to really dig in on data before you book, spend some time searching in Google Flights, where they analyze all sorts of stats to help you determine if what you’re looking at is a good price. Or if passive bargain shopping is more your speed, just set up a price alert with Kayak or an app like SkyScanner—they’ll notify you when prices drop on your route in real time.

Do one thing today:

  • Confirm your travel dates
  • Set a price alert
  • Book the flight

If You’re Taking a Train

Booking early is the name of the game with most train travel, as they’re commonly sold in fare groups that naturally raise the price as more tickets are claimed. But you can check through your work, clubs (like AAA), or other affiliations for special deals available to you.

Do one thing today:

  • Confirm your travel dates
  • Check for deals through work or clubs
  • Book the ticket

How to keep up with Holiday Jumpstart:

(Image credit: Apartment Therapy)