Did your boss just tell you your precious vacation days aren’t rolling over into the new year?
Or maybe your 2018 New Years Resolution was to go on an epic vacation and you just realized you have less than a month to make that dream come true.
No matter what your reason is, December is the perfect time to travel.
Although the holiday season is an especially busy travel time, there are still plenty of budget friendly options for trips all over the globe. If you do your homework, stay flexible and utilize all sites and apps available to you, you can get a great deal that will allow you to indulge in a vacation guilt-free.
5 ways to save on holiday travel
These simple tips can help you save money regardless of where you plan to go on your vacation:
1. Be flexible on your travel dates
Travel costs generally skyrocket around Christmas week (especially the Friday before Christmas) when many people have off from work and are traveling home for the holidays or hopping on a vacation flight. Booking flights and travel accommodations before or after that week can save you a ton of money.
The day of the week you chose to fly can also help you save. Tuesday, Wednesday and Saturday flights are usually less expensive for U.S. domestic flights. Weekend flights, on the other hand, tend to cost a lot more when traveling to Europe.
2. Shop around
Flight comparison websites are your best friend when it comes to holiday travel. Kayak and Priceline, for example, scan airline, hotel, and rental car deals to find the best prices around. Plus, they often offer bundle discounts when booking multiple services through their sites.
3. Use alternative booking sites for accommodations and rental cars
While big name hotel and travel companies may seem like the obvious choice for festive holiday accommodations, renting directly from individuals through sites like AirBnB or VRBO could save you a fortune.
Looking for an affordable rental car? Check out Turo, which allows you to rent cars from their direct owners for as little as $10 a day.
4. Check deals on train rides
In some cases, traveling via train can be much more affordable than flying domestic. A train ticket from Boston to New York via WanderU, for example, costs just $69. Whereas, the same flight during the holiday season could run you well over $100.
Plus, if you factor in flight delays and getting through busy airport security, you may even save some time and stress.
5. Use fare-tracking apps
If you’re booking a last minute holiday trip, apps like Hopper can help you find the best deals being offered. Hopper monitors ticket and hotel prices, and uses algorithms to determine good prices based on saved data and analysis.
The app will notify you when a price is likely to increase or decrease, so you can improve your chances of getting a deal.
Location, location, location
While December is one of the most popular months of the year to travel with 40% of people planning a trip this year according to Travel Weekly, there are plenty of destinations that are affordable and well worth a visit.
If you want to travel to Europe…
Providing you don’t mind skipping the beach, Italy and Spain are amazing off-season respites. With temperatures around 50 degrees and a multitude of sites to see, museums to visit and holiday activities to participate in, you’ll be wondering why more people aren’t packing their bags.
It also doesn’t have to cost an arm and a leg to visit one of the famed Christmas markets of Europe. Known for their festive displays, local foods and revelry, Christmas markets are the ultimate bucket list destination for holiday travelers. There are currently trips available from across the U.S. to Europe for as little as $291 round-trip.
Budget airline Wow Air also has a deal going this holiday season offering flights for as low as $99 (plus baggage fees).
If you want to travel somewhere tropical…
A white Christmas isn’t ideal for everyone. If you’re looking to escape snow, sleet or cold weather, Puerto Rico is the place for you. Since Hurricane Maria, the island is eager to welcome back tourists with flights under $200, enticing hotel deals and many special holiday activities to enjoy. With weather typically in the 80s, the U.S. territory is an ideal spot for a quick holiday getaway.
A flight to the Thai Islands may cost you around $400, but upon your arrival you’ll be greeted with low prices, beautiful beaches and temperatures in the 80s. Make sure you check out Bangkok to see Christmas lights that would put your Christmas tree to shame.
December is also one of the best months of the year to visit Bali. Although the Indonesian island is steamy all year long, flights and hotel bookings are unusually affordable during the island’s rainy season between October and April. Don’t worry too much about the chance of poor weather, thanks to it’s tropical climate, storms usually pass through relatively quickly on the island.