'Tis the season to visit loved ones near and far – or to simply give yourself the gift of adventure. No matter the reason, if you're one of the nearly 47% of people traveling for the holidays, there's a good chance you've already booked your trip, but travel expenses don't end there. To help, we've compiled tips to help make your trip smooth and keep you on budget, regardless of how you're getting to your destination.
Travel tips if you're flying...
The friendly skies can become stressful during the holidays. The good news is, planning ahead can help ease your stress along the way.
Download apps ahead of time
Before you embark on your adventure, download and log into all necessary apps, and confirm the proper information is displaying in each. From your airline app to your vacation rental or hotel app, having your tech prepared can help prevent any travel snags.
Pack strategically to avoid unnecessary expenses
Checked bag fees add up quickly and can turn affordable airfare into a budget buster. Since winter clothes can take up a considerable amount of space, pick one to two statement pieces and build multiple outfits from those pieces to save on space and luggage fees. When it comes to your time in the airport, pack TSA-sanctioned snacks and an empty reusable water bottle to avoid buying overpriced airport snacks and beverages.
Mail gifts ahead of the holidays
If you happen to be taking gifts to give loved ones, go ahead and ship them before you leave – just make sure you are check the postal delivery dates and cutoffs for holiday shipping.
Reserve your parking
If you're driving yourself to the airport, check online to see if you can reserve a parking spot in advance. Not only will booking parking save stress and time, you may find discounted rates.
If you're driving...
Road trips can be both exciting, and so can what you may have saved compared to booking a flight. However, without planning ahead, they can also be expensive.
Drive during the off hours
Being stuck in rush hour on a long trip is a stress multiplier. Save your stress by driving during off hours. Driving during this time could also help save on gas.
Tune-up before you head out
Breaking down on the side of the road can be scary and expensive. While the upfront cost of servicing your car before your trip may feel unnecessary, taking the time to get a quick tune up before you hit the road could save you a lot of money in the long run.
While a drive-thru can be quick and easy, it can also get expensive. Packing snacks, drinks and even meals ahead of time can allow you to shop grocery store deals as well as buy exactly what you're craving instead of whatever the gas station aisles are offering.
Take advantage of apps
Gas prices can be an unpredictable expense on the road depending on where you're driving, luckily, there are apps that can help trim those costs. Look for apps that survey prices in the area and show you the cheapest options nearby.
Once you arrive, watch your budget...
Make sure you also take time to plan your itinerary for your destination. Entry fees and last-minute tickets can get costly, but by planning ahead, you can have an amazing holiday while staying within your budget.
Discounts on attractions
If you happen to be visiting an area with several tourist attractions, research if there are any sightseeing passes available. There are a variety of companies and sites that offer discount packages and even plan itineraries for you. Also, be sure to check your loyalty programs or memberships for discounts to attractions and restaurants.
Find free events and activities
One of the best ways to experience a new city is to visit its local parks and activities. Many cities also have free museums and galleries, along with walking tours and markets, to explore. A quick search online is a great way to learn about unique features throughout the city.
How buckets can help you plan for this holiday
The sooner you can get a jump on saving for the holidays, the better. One way to start is with an Ally Bank Savings Account. With smart tools like buckets and boosters, you can optimize your savings to make all your travel dreams come true. For example, you might set up a bucket to treat your family to a local production of “The Nutcracker" and another for gifts.
Making the most of the holiday season
Visiting your nearest and dearest during the holidays is a time-honored tradition. With some strategic planning and simple tweaks, you can make the journey to quality time easy on your wallet and your stress levels.