By Sarah Kaufman, Manilla.com
You just heard you got some time off work so you can head home to see your friends and family for the holidays. You’re excited, ready and — totally broke. How will you be able to afford the trip home? Check out these money-saving tips for booking last-minute travel.
Be prepared not to fly on the days that are most convenient for you (and the people picking you up and dropping you off at the airport or train station). Keep your travel dates flexible because traveling on certain (less-than-ideal) days can save you some money. For example, traveling on a Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday are typically the cheapest days because most people tend to book arrivals and departures on the weekends.
Consider checking the cost of flights for airports you don’t normally access. For example, if you’re flying to the San Francisco Bay Area, check Oakland International Airport. If you’re flying to New York, check all city airports but also Newark Liberty International Airport in New Jersey. Heading to Maryland? Don’t just check Baltimore/Washington International Thurgood Marshall Airport — look at rates for Dulles International Airport in Washington, D.C., as well.
Check all options
Even if you’re used to a certain way of traveling (e.g., flying), you may have to sacrifice your favorite mode of transportation to get the best last-minute deals. Check every travel option available — car, bus, plane, train — to see what you’re least-expensive option is.
Research discount codes
Believe it or not, sites like coupons.com and retailmenot.com actually have discount codes for various airlines and other travel companies, like Amtrak. If you’re looking to rent a car, check out rentalcarmomma.com, which shows you the best discount codes you can use for renting with many of the nation’s leading car rental companies.
Deal with the fact that you’re going to be traveling early… or late
Give up on the idea that you’re not going to be traveling at 6 a.m. It’s not guaranteed, but it’s more likely that you’ll be departing your original location at a not-so-convenient hour of the day because those are the times that are usually priced lower.
Sarah Kaufman is the editor-in-chief of The Manilla Folder at Manilla.com, the leading free and secure service that helps consumers simplify and organize all of their bills and household accounts in one place online or via the 4-plus-star customer-rated mobile apps. Sarah is also a regular contributor to Yahoo! Finance, Good Housekeeping, Woman’s Day, Redbook, The Motley Fool and other sites. For more money-saving tips, visit The Manilla Folder.