Sticking to a budget can be difficult in all areas of our lives, and we all have our weaknesses, whether it’s trips to the salon or meals at our favorite restaurants.
As unromantic as it may seem, budget building is a necessity for every trip. We may have a lot of time and options to play with the rest of the year, but when we’re traveling for Thanksgiving, it gets a little bit more complicated. We need to get somewhere, and we have a deadline – so how do we make it work, and work on a budget?
Sometimes a simple thing like doing research and planning ahead can save us tons of cash without sacrificing any amenities or bringing down the holiday cheer. From scoring the best online deals on airfare, car rentals and when to hit the road to finagling free upgrades at hotels, staying under budget this Thanksgiving may be easier than you think. And the more money you save on this trip, the sooner you can get started on planning for the next one, and the more leg room you have to enjoy the Christmas activities that follow!
We may shy away from the idea of early morning or connecting flights, but they can save us a good chunk of money. So can packing our own snacks for the plane or road, or downloading money-saving travel apps. Even the phone you travel with can go a long way toward keeping costs down!
If you're looking for inspiration for how to start budgeting for your travels this Thanksgiving, consider these tips from the experts to get you motivated.
The key to finding cheap flights is to be flexible with your days, says John “Johnny Jet” DiScala, a U.S.-based travel expert and the editor-in-chief at JohnnyJet.com. If you aren’t flexible, then you aren’t going to get a great deal. It’s not that difficult to figure out that the most expensive time to fly is when everyone else is, too (i.e. holidays, Fridays, Sundays, and Mondays). When Grandma’s pumpkin pie is waiting, flexibility may seem laughable, but it can be done. Perhaps arriving Wednesday afternoon vs. Thursday morning (or vice versa) can make a world of difference. Compare prices and see what you can accomplish!
Courtney Scott, Travelocity.com's senior editor, says that while “historically there has been a slight decrease in airfare prices about two weeks out from Thanksgiving,” she doesn’t recommend waiting until that close to the holiday to purchase your tickets. “Thanksgiving is one of the busiest travel periods of the year,” says Scott, “so I recommend booking as soon as possible. In general, I recommend setting up email alerts and fare trackers to keep an eye on prices and I recommend looking on Twitter for the latest travel deals.”
Consider the Time of Day
You aren’t the only one who also wants to leave after work and school to make it home for Thanksgiving, so when doing your flight search don’t put a specific time, says DiScala. Generally, the most expensive times to fly are peak business travel hours (8 to 10 a.m. and 5 to 7 p.m.). Cheaper seats tend to depart early in the morning (5 to 7 a.m.) or late in the evening (after 8 p.m.). By leaving early in the morning, you also have the best chance of not getting delayed.
Aly Walansky is a special contributor to The Daily Meal.