Christmas travel sounds like the plot of a slapstick comedy movie, right? Picture Kevin McAllister waking too late and missing the shuttle to the airport, or his Mom realizing he’s not on the plane. Chaos and crowds and family and all the expectations!!
Well, holiday travel need not be a complete disaster, and frankly it should never cost you a year of mortgage payments just to take a bit of R and R. Plan ahead, sit back, relax and enjoy.
Here’s why Christmas travel need not be the punchline to a joke. Instead make it the start of a wonderful new adventure or tradition.
Chaos and Overspending or Smooth Sailing all the Way?
Every year, millions of people worldwide book travel over Thanksgiving and the Christmas holidays. Holiday travel is a gigantic moneymaker for airlines and hotels. It’s easy to see why. People want to be home for the holidays. They want to see friends and loved ones. If Christmas travel, or holiday travel is in your future, then you need to read this post.
The Most Expensive Time of the Year
Christmas and New Year’s are some of my favourite times to book a getaway, but the holidays can also be the most expensive time to go away. I often opt for a slight variation on dates so that we save money. Christmas travel can be extremely expensive so knowing your best time to book flights is important. Here’s a bit of information on how to save on holiday travel.
Sometimes You Really Have No Other Options
Now listen, I totally get that some people are limited and cannot travel any other time. Teachers and others who work in schools don’t get to pick and choose their travel times necessarily. But, if you can pick your times then search out the early January or early December times to travel. You still get all the enjoyment of Christmas travel without the giant cost involved.
When is the best time to book flights for Christmas travel?
Know before you go. Number one priority. Be sure you are going to follow through and that the dates are solid. Changing your mind can cost you money later. Don’t book a flight unless you are almost one hundred percent sure you are going. People get themselves in trouble when they book a flight and then find out later that they either need to change the date, or they find that they need to cancel the flight.
When is the Sweet Spot for Holiday Travel Bookings?
Most advocate booking 4-8 weeks in advance of a trip. On Cyber Monday there are lots of deals available for hotels and flights too. If you are booking into the new year right now you might find a great deal. I have seen a few excellent January deals. There’s even some great in Canada domestic flight deals (rare indeed!)
If you try to book too early to save money, you might find that your times were not great and your situation has changed so that you have to cancel. Not ideal. If you book too late, you will get hit with extra costs. NO question. In years gone by you could occasionally save booking flights last minute, but those days are long gone.
Credit or No?
No question that the best way is to always pay cash. Booking a Christmas flight through a credit card will cause interest to be accrued and will cost you more over time. Interest is a huge financial barrier that can be hard to pay off. Paying flights off immediately is ideal.
KNOW YOUR STRENGTHS and Limits Too
There are occasional times when a credit card purchase makes sense.
Booking a flight for Christmas travel can seem like a great idea and you reach for that credit card and book. But if you don’t have the money to pay it off quickly then you are causing a world of headaches. However, the exception to this rule is when you have an amazing rewards card or Air Miles and you know you are the kind that can pay by credit, gather the points and pay the debt off immediately.
We’ve collected a lot of points that way in the last decade. But prior to that, in my 20s for instance I was not even close to disciplined enough to pay for travel this way.
I am pretty good at this. But this season we know we don’t have as much disposable income as was the case in other years so I am not likely to book as it will sit on the credit card. Sad, but true. Nobody can afford to pay double the cost for an impulse trip.
Christmas Travel Can Be Fun
Many online travel websites offer flights ten months before the flight will actually happen. This would be good to do, providing the price is right and they are not trying to bait the first customer with a high price.
Christmas is a great time of the year to travel and see loved ones. However, it is even greater if people find a good price and don’t get into a financial jam that they cannot get out of. Plan ahead and make Christmas travel work for you.