It’s that time of the year again, where you put down the eggnog and start thinking about New Year’s resolutions. Gyms know that lots of people will put exercising as a New Year’s resolution, and will swarm local gyms for the first few weeks of the year. Yet by the end of the month, most gyms’ crowds have thinned to pre-January levels. The same goes with weight-loss, smoking, or other goals like saving money.
So why do so many people break their New Year’s resolutions so quickly, or not succeed at their goals? There are several big reasons:
Your resolutions are too unrealistic: Despite what you may see on infomercials and reality TV, you are not going to be able to realistically lose 30 pounds in January. Nor will you be able to pay off $20,000 in credit card debt that quickly, even if you did get a big raise.
You try to do too much, too soon: Back to our gym example – if you try to run five miles a day, when you have been sitting on the couch all of 2012, all attempting to do that much will do isl put you in pain. Then you can’t work out, and you get discouraged, and you give up.
You try to do too many resolutions at once: While some resolutions, like those involving weight loss and exercise, go hand-in-hand, others do not. Unless you have both a scholarship and an unaffected way of making money, you’re not going to be able to realistically go back to college and pay extra on your mortgage. Prioritize.
Your goals aren’t measurable or trackable: Simply wanting to eat healthier per se isn’t necessarily a measurable New Year’s resolution. You could put lettuce on your burger and still consider yourself as eating healthy. Career coach experts say you should come up with a trackable goal, like eating a healthy salad every day if you are trying to eat better.
You don’t keep a no-fail environment: As Dr. Phil always says, willpower isn’t enough. It only gets you so far. If you are spending too much on shopping with credit cards, and want to stop using them, you need to stop going to the mall and block home-shopping channels from your remote control. Because all it takes is one weak moment, one bad day, and your finances could be a mess again.
Fortunately, there is a better way to succeed at your New Year’s resolutions. Let’s suppose you want to make exercise a regular part of your life. Why not start with the goal of 20 to 30 minutes of walking on a treadmill three times a week, for the first two weeks. Then add another day for the third and fourth weeks. Then increase your time after the first month, and so on. Then mix it up and use an elliptical machine or a bicycle, gradually adding time and increasing the resistance on the machines as you grow and improve.
Scheduling also helps – pencil in the things you want to achieve into your daily or weekly schedule, and have a plan on how to do them.
Life coach experts say that the most important way to achieve your New Year’s resolutions is to write them down, and put your list on a place where you can see them every day. So if you have a weight loss goal, have it on your refrigerator so you are reminded of your New Year’s resolution when you go for a snack.
What do you want to resolve to do in 2013?
Lisa Swan writes for a variety of sites, including MeredithHaberfeld.com.
I’ve never met anyone who has traveled the world for free, but I’ve met plenty who’ve done it on very minuscule budgets. It’s possible if you’re smart and flexible to find free accommodation, free car hire and even free flights. All of these methods take a bit of work, so it’s important to work out whether the amount of effort you need to put in equals what you’re getting back.
Either way this should make for some interesting reading.
House sit – Free Accommodation
Look after other people’s homes and pets while they’re away. When I stumbled across this idea I couldn’t believe I hadn’t heard of it before. No more hostels or hotels; instead live in presumably a very nice house and all you have to do is walk the dog and water the plants.
In reality there have been a few more chores than that, and some of the dogs have been very large and so have needed very long walks, but it’s turned out to be an excellent source of free accommodation.
As of April 2013, I will have house sat for nine months straight in France in four different house sits throughout the South of France and will have looked after more than five dogs, eight cats and eighteen alpacas. I’ll also have saved myself a fortune on accommodation costs in what would have been quite an expensive country to live in. My thanks goes to Trusted Housesitters where I found these house sits. You can see a full list of housesits worldwide here.
Similar ideas that offer free accommodation, but usually you have to give a lot more are: home swapping (swap your home with someone else’s), wwoofing (work for roughly four hours a day for your accommodation) and couch surfing (stay on other people’s couches).
Road Trip for Free – Free Car Hire
House sitting has its own restrictions, such as you have to fit your holiday around the dates the home owner is going away and like house sitting, this method of getting free car hire has its own restrictions as well.
The idea is simple. Car hire companies often need cars transported from one side of the country to another. Rather than hire someone to do the job, they put adverts up online and interested parties can get involved.
You’ll have a deadline to work to, but if you’re interested in taking a road trip and want your fuel, car and expenses paid for this idea could work for you. Check out Apollo for their list of driving gigs in Australia or check out Jayride (also Australian) for a list of similar ways to travel including ride-sharing opportunities across the country.
Free Flights – Smart Credit Card Use
Credit card companies want us to use our credit cards and to do that many of them offer incentives and schemes for doing so such as free flights, points and other novelties. From this a community of ‘Travel Hackers’ and ‘Airmile Hackers’ have sprung up: essentially a group of people who work out how to get these bonuses and post the information online.
Now it’s important to point out that credit card companies want people to borrow credit and in their ideal world they’d love for you not to be able to pay it all off so they can charge you interest. If you’re going to start using credit cards, you need to be sure that you won’t get into debt. A good air miles ‘hack’ is one in which you don’t have to spend any more money than you were planning on i.e. if a credit card company is offering points for using their card this Christmas, put your Christmas shopping on the card and pay it off immediately. That way you get the points and no debt.
One last way…
If you’re a good-looking lady, which I’m not, you can travel for free with guys who want a female companion for their journey using MissTravel.com. The site has definitely had some mixed responses and if I was a lady, pretty or otherwise, I’m not sure if I would do it. But hey, it’s good to have options.
Who says you have to break the bank when cheering up your kid on his birthday? Indeed, there’s no better way to make your child’s special day memorable and truly fun-filled than to throw up a party, although you also have to be mindful of your budget. If you don’t keep a close eye on it, you’ll be shocked to see that you’ve already spent a small fortune on food, decoration, invitation, and giveaways. The truth is, kids really don’t mind if you give them a simple birthday bash. What matters most is the time and effort that you’ve spent, as well the company of family and friends that make the whole affair fun and memorable.
So, how do you extend the fun and excitement on your child’s birthday while cutting the cost of the event? Check out our simple yet very practical tips and you’ll rejoice with the fact that you don’t have to drop big bucks on this big day.
- Keep the Food Simple
Budget-savvy momma blogger Teri Storelli shares that keeping the food simple and low-key is one of the best thing that could cut the cost of a birthday party. Choose a main dish that’s easy to prepare, a sandwich or finger food, and a dessert, plus the drinks. Plan out the menu in advance and start looking for coupons, so when shopping time comes, you could either enjoy getting freebies or discounts. Pick menus that can be prepared ahead of time, or those that you can serve in room temperature so you don’t need reheat the dish come eating time.
- Shop at Dollar Stores
Vigilant Mom Dana Hinders would always shop at local dollar store when throwing a birthday bash for her kids. She shares that dollar stores are the best places to look for cheap yet eye-catching utensils, plates, napkins, cups, as well as kiddy decors and streamers.
- Decorate using recycled items
You don’t have to shop for decorations if you are just creative enough recycle existing items. For example, Hinders shares that you can stuff tall transparent vases and jar with Lego bricks or crayons for attractive centerpiece. You can also use small toy cars to top birthday cakes. Printable kiddie decors that could match well on your theme are also available online.
- Hunt for grocery coupons and shop when on sale
Once you have prepared the list of the items that you need to purchase, the next thing that you need to do is look for a Sunday newspaper or check out a grocery store’s website because that’s where you’ll find some of the best deals. Then, watch out for a big sale. That’s when you have to go shopping for your birthday party needs. You’ll shout out with joy with the huge savings you’ll get.
Indeed, having fun on your kid’s birthday is more enjoyable when you’ve realized you’ve actually saved more!
About the author – Manilyn Moreno is a caterer and writer for Better Cater, a catering software company. Aside from encouraging caterers to use catering software to help them efficiently manage events financial and recipe costing, they also provide catering tips and recipes to caterers.
Anyone can travel, even on a budget. But before you can leave on that dream trip, you need to save up. Do have trouble setting aside money for travel? Here are some penny pinching ways that will help you prepare the funds for your journey.
The early bird catches the cheaper flights. There are so many promo fares available right now that makes travel so accessible to everyone. The only catch is, you have to book early. If you purchase your ticket months before you actually depart, it will give leeway to save up for your pocket money. The ticket actually serves as an incentive for you to work hard on saving enough before you leave for your trip. Keep your ticket in sight as a constant reminder of your upcoming vacation.
Splurging on food and eating out at a fancy restaurant is always a temptation every time payday comes by. It doesn’t help that your colleagues always invite you out to dinners to celebrate getting paid. Unless they’re going to treat you, politely turn down their invite and choose instead to dine in at home. The money you might have spent for an expensive dinner can serve you better when you put it aside for travel funds. If you feel a twinge of jealousy that you’re not part of their dinner, think of how they will turn green with envy when you post pictures of your exotic vacation. By then, you’ll realize that dining in for months was all worth it.
Embrace a Minimalistic Lifestyle
“Buy what you need and not what you want” is a mantra you should embrace when trying to save up. Don’t be afraid to stay sober and scrimp on evening drinks. Been eyeing that spanking new set of luggage? If you old luggage hasn’t broken down yet, then make do. If you have old clothes that you no longer like or are no longer using, you can sell them and add the proceeds to your travel funds.
Be Creative with Gift Requests
If your birthday comes before your trip, be creative with gift requests. Hint at friends that you want gifts related with travel. Your best friend just might give you the new travel bag you’ve been wanting. Christmas time is also a great way to indirectly ask for help. Clue your parents in about your upcoming vacation and how much you’ve saved so far. They just might get the hint and give you cash instead of material things for Christmas.
Make Use of Coupons
There are so many coupons out there that will help you in your quest to save money. Did you happen to splurge during Black Friday’s sale? If you did, you’re taking a step back in your savings progress. Don’t be afraid to make use of coupons. If you weren’t able to get them during Thanksgiving, there will be new ones out that you can use for Christmas shopping as long as you know how to look. Do your research on the internet and find coupon sites where you can get the best deals.
Get Freelance Work
If you have extra time on your hands, get a little freelance work to help supplement your budget for travel. Search the internet for part time online jobs. There is plenty of freelance jobs that you can do a couple of hours per day depending on your skills. If your forte is writing, you can write articles about completely assorted topics. If your English is flawless, you can teach English online. There are a lot of foreign students who want to improve their English conversational skills by practicing with online tutors.
Saving up isn’t easy but if you are really determined to travel then you will find a way to make your dream a reality. Travel doesn’t have to be expensive and when you finally embark on that journey, you’ll realize that all the sacrifices you made to save money makes it all the more worthwhile.
Based in San Diego, California, Tiffany Matthews is a professional writer and a social media contributor for successful companies like Seven Corners, an international travel health insurance, trip insurance and specialty benefit management company. When not writing, she likes to travel and watch movies with friends.
When the time comes to upgrade your vehicle, you do not have to lose a lot of money in the process. The information below may help you make smart choices and find a happy ending for every person involved.
Selling a Car with Few Expenses
1. List the Car on the Internet
The Internet is a popular destination for people around the world. It is easy to socialize with peers, make a purchase, or learn something new. Several websites are available for just about any subject, and you may access these websites during any hour of the day. You may wish to find a website that specializes in listing cars for sale. Listing a car is usually free; you can sit back and wait for people to contact you to make an offer.
2. Fix Issues before Advertizing the Car
Though this action may seem reckless, you will save a lot of money in the long run. People tend to avoid cars that appear to be in poor condition. If the doors of your car do not close properly, for example, people will move on to another car for sale. Talk to a mechanic and have the car inspected before you introduce the car to the public. Do not assume that the car is free of issues. When you make the necessary repairs, you ensure that the value of your car will increase. You will get more money for your old vehicle.
Finding a New Car
1. Perform the Proper Research
Saving money on a car does not have to be difficult. You may save money on your new car when you do the proper research. The Internet has many websites that will help you determine the worth of the car that you may wish to own. You may also look into cars that fit specific needs and preferences. You will avoid any unpleasant surprises, and a car dealer will be unable to trick you. Your local library may also have books about car models, and you may check these books out for free. “We buy cars” may be a message on a website for a local dealer, and this is worth a second glance.
2. Take a Person with You
It is crucial to have a person to help you with the buying process. You may be unsure about the car that you want; if this is not the case, you may worry that the car dealer will try to take advantage of you. A friend or family member can offer an opinion. He or she may also prevent the car dealer from trying tricky selling maneuvers. Your companion may come with you as you test the car on the road, and they may keep you from making any drastic decisions.
If you want to save money on your next car, the information above may help. By the same token, you may also save money on the process of selling your old car. You do not have to lose money, and you do not have to lose your mind.
The following story is not original. However this particular adaption was created by my husband for our church’s Christmas program. This simple story tells both the whole and true meaning of Christmas. It is our desire from all of us at Couponers.com that you too will know the full wonder and meaning of Christmas this season.
It was in the city of London, long, long ago; When I was quite young, you know…
Mother and Father had died and I was left with none beside…
My home was the streets where there was little to eat;
And on that cold, dark, Christmas Eve night, the snow had arrived…
‘Mister – a shilling! Misses – a pence!’ But none would spare;
Of their gold nor silver that God had lent…
And so I made my way, to some darkened hovel or abandoned abode;
Hoping to find shelter and warmth form the snow and the cold…
As I made my way past St. Paul’s;
A bobby in black approached me, he was straight and tall…
He said to me, ‘Lad, do you know it’s Christmas Eve?
Shouldn’t you be at home by now?
It’s not for small boys to be running around at night at all…’
But I have not home, and was all alone—I told him so…
Placing one heavy hand on my shoulder;
and pointing to a lighted window nearby with the other;
He told me that was where I should go;
And when the good man of the house opened;
‘John 3:16— That was all that needed to be spoken…’
Under the bobby’s watchful eye, I walked towards the house;
And knocked on the door, not loudly; but timid, like a mouse…
A kindly, good reverend opened the door;
He smiled at me and asked, ‘At this late hour? And what for?”
He patted me on the shoulder as his smile grew bright;
And took me into his home, that cold dark Christmas Eve night…
Sitting down by the fire while the heat warmed me;
He asked, Did hot soup and bread sound good?
Those were my words;
That he understood…
After my rages and skin were warmed and the hoe food had filled me;
I had thought that it was my time to leave…
But then he asked me if I wanted to stay and wash up…
T’was sufficient enough…
After a hot bath which washed the dirt from my skin:
Clean, white nightclothes were given by him…
A small bed was offered for my rest;
I climbed in and the reverend with Bible in hand;
Asked me another question;
Lad, are you free from sin?
I shook my head;
I knew no such thing;
Then the man of God showed me—
A single verse;
Why, written in God’s Word!
Which had opened the door for me;
Fed me, cleansed me, clothed me;
Gave me shelter and kept me warm;
The good man asked me, ‘Lad, would you like to be reborn?’
I nodded my “Yes”, and he told me to pray;
Asking Jesus my heart to come in and cleanse me from sin;
If I would just let Him;
On this now Christmas Day.
In childlike faith I prayed that prayer;
And He whom God had sent because so loved He the world;
Became my Saviour—became my Lord..
Before he bid me goodnight;
That Godly man who showed me Christian kindness;
Who led me to God’s holy light;
Asked if I had anything to say this holy, Christmas morn…
A cheerful smile crossed my lips;
For the Lord—He saved my soul;
He granted my wish…
I could speak of nothing else;
But just this one thing…
Thank God for John 3:16!
For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.
There is nothing that brings more joy to the heart than giving to others; especially when it comes to giving to those who are truly in need. Of course, we are not naturally born with this ability; it’s something that must be taught by explanation and more importantly, by example.
If you would like to teach your own kids about the importance of giving to others, we have few suggestions on how you can introduce and then model the concept in a way that will have them excited about sharing and bringing a smile to the face of someone around them:
Talk to them about giving. There is a Scripture in the Bible that says that God loves a cheerful giver. A part of that is because we should be happy about the fact that when we give to others, we are able to meet many needs that they quite possibly would have not met otherwise. Sometimes, the child who we give our child’s used clothes to wouldn’t have any if we didn’t. Sometimes, the single mom that we cook for simply doesn’t have time between two jobs to cook for herself. By explaining to your child that when all of us do our part, everyone’s needs are met, that will help them to better understand a part of the reason why it’s not just a good thing to give, but why they should look forward to doing it.
Be creative with your giving. One thing that some parents do in order to get their children used to the giving concept is to have them pick a gift that they want for Christmas or their birthday and then purchase two of them. One the child keeps and the other they pick to give to someone who they think might need it. Another idea is to have them participate in volunteering at a charity or non-profit organization where it’s “child-friendly” enough for them to donate their time. Still, another idea is that when you are going through their clothes and toys to ask them if they think it would be a good idea to give it away to a store or to find someone in need. Then let them help you to box up the items and deliver them. The more “hands on” that you allow them to be, the more willing they will be to give more (and more often).
“Cheerlead” their giving. As your children grows and they find themselves asking more and more in-depth questions like “Is there a God ?” , by encouraging them to give and letting them know that God gives to us daily thanks to having food to eat, a place to live and clothes to wear, they will start to understand that giving is also a spiritual act. Therefore, as your child starts to be more proactive in their giving and sharing with others, make a concerted effort to celebrate that by cheering them on. Just like you want them to understand that giving is a spiritually good thing, you also want them to feel good about doing it. The more excited you act, the better about themselves they will feel and giving is something that every child should definitely be proud to do. A giver is something that all parents should want their kids to be.
Sarah Danielson is a freelance writer and part time student. In her spare time she likes to go hiking and help with an animal rescue out of Los Angeles, California.
If you’re willing to get a little crafty, you can decorate every room in your home for Christmas without putting yourself in debt. With a variety of fun, inexpensive (or free) craft ideas, you can embellish your home from the foyer to the back porch and still having enough jingle to complete your gift list.
In addition to the ornaments your family has displayed on your Christmas tree over the years, you can add some homemade pieces that will remind you for years to come of quality time you spent with your family. Options include picking up pre-made ornament kits from your local craft store or making your own ornaments with easy-to-make dough and a set of cookie cutters. Opt for an all-white theme and leave the ornaments unpainted or mix food coloring into your dough for a tree alive in pops of color.
Cheer up any room in the house with a display of stylish holiday wall art. Simply cut three rectangles of foam board into your desired sizes and cover them with a holiday-themed fabric. For a modern look, choose fabric with a large graphic design instead of more traditional Christmas themes. Cut the fabric about two inches larger than the board, center the board on the fabric, wrap the fabric edges neatly around the back of the board and hot glue them in place. Glue ribbon or several strands of raffia to the back of the board for easy hanging.
Modern Pine Cone Garland
Want a new twist on an old Christmas favorite? Instead of decorating pine cones with glue and glitter, dip the ends into a rainbow of trendy Christmas colors and connect them with ribbon or twine and a few well-placed dabs of hot glue to create a garland. Done this way, pine cones look a bit more like a piece of modern sculpture than a grade-school art project and yet young children still have lots of fun making them. These garlands look great on Christmas trees, but could also be used to adorn the front entrance to your home, twisted around a curtain rod or hung from the hardware on your kitchen cupboards.
Turn the pages of an old magazine into artsy snowflakes and decorate your windows or child’s room with a ‘snowstorm.’ This free craft looks most stunning when you display an abundance of snowflakes together and it will take you back to your childhood. Carefully remove pages from a magazine, retaining a clean edge on all sides. Pages of text have a graphic appeal and photos add a pop of unexpected color to the typically white snowflake. The more cuts you make the more interesting and delicate your snowflake will be.
Chances are you’re not using those garden rakes in the yard this time of year; why not convert them into Christmas trees to decorate the front porch, utility room or a rustic family room? Hang a V-shaped rake upside down, allowing the V to mimic the shape of an evergreen tree. Adorn the tines with red bows, a diminutive string of garland and a few small ornaments and you have a fun and unusual Christmas tree. Display several rakes together for a forest of fake trees. You’ll never look at broken rake heads the same.
Holiday crafts are the perfect way to keep the kids busy during this time of year. Keep a list of easy projects like these handy along with all the necessary supplies and you’ll have an activity for the family to do anytime you need one. Christmas crafts don’t have to be complicated to be amazing. The fun of making things yourself adds to the enjoyment of the season, especially when you can create such beautiful items for pennies.
Holly is an Indianapolis native with a passion for Christmas. When she isn’t decorating Christmas trees or baking goodies, you can find her blogging on behalf of Sears and other brands she loves.
Christmastime is near, which means lots of smiles and fun for both kids and kids-at-heart. When it’s chilly outside and you need fun indoor activities for children, crafts are always a crowd-pleasing option. Nothing lights up a child’s face like making something themselves and seeing the finished product. This winter, get the fireplace going, whip up some hot chocolate, and bring out the craft bins for a holly jolly Christmas!
Milk Jug Snowmen
- Empty gallon milk jugs
- Pom poms, construction paper, pipe cleaners
- White strand lights
Make use of those used milk jugs – turn them into snowmen and light them up. It’s like a Christmastime jack o’ lantern! Clean out the milk jugs and have kids turn them into snowman faces with markers. Use pom poms for accents, make a scarf out of pipe cleaners, and a nose out of construction paper (always keep an eye on kids using scissors and glue) to complete the snowman. At night, insert the white light strands and plug them in. The snowman will light up and light up everyone’s night!
Cozy Winter Scarves
- Long strips of felt or felt scarves
- Felt pieces in various shapes and colors
- Craft glue
It’s important to bundle up in the winter. Make it more enjoyable for kids by having them make their own scarves. If you can find felt scarves at a thrift store, great; if not, long pieces of felt work too. Kids can make their own wintery designs for the scarf by gluing shapes onto it. Snowmen, Santa, presents – the sky’s the limit! Help out by drawing snowflakes onto the felt with glue and letting the kids sprinkle glitter on them. It’s a fun, practical craft for everyone!
Tissue Paper Wreath
- Cardboard cut into a ring shape
- Green and red tissue paper
- Pom poms
This is a great craft for kids because it’s also a decoration that they’ll be able to hang in your home. Paint the cardboard ring with glue and have the kids crumple the tissue paper into balls and stick it on the glue. You can have them use pom poms for even more fun. When it’s done, tie a ribbon into a bow and glue it at the bottom of the wreath. Now hang it on a wall or door and let the Christmas cheer begin!
Tie Dye Christmas Ornaments
- Clear glass Christmas bulbs
- Different colors of acrylic paint
This craft is better for older kids due to the glass involved. Always be careful with glass and keep an eye on kids when they are around it. Take the tops off of the Christmas bulbs and have kids pick out different colors of paint. While you hold the bulb, they can squeeze the paint into it. Put the top back on, hold the bulb upside down, and shake it a little. The paint will start to run down the sides, creating a cool tie-dye look. Be sure to do this over newspaper or a sink in case of any spills!
This post was written by Jeanie on behalf of Vistaprint, provider of quality photo mugs and many other great Christmas gifts!
With so many presents to buy and people to see, the last thing you want to do is go into debt when booking your holiday travel. With anyone and everyone clamoring to snatch a spare seat on those few remaining open flights, finding good deals is often more of a source of added holiday stress than the gateway to a relaxing getaway. It doesn’t have to be this way, of course. With a little pre-planning and a working knowledge of the best travel tricks, you can make your way over the river and through the woods to grandmother’s house without visiting a loan shark in the process. Here are our top ten tips for staying solvent and staying sane this holiday travel season.
1. Book Early
Unlike traveling at other times of the year, holiday airfare tends to get lower the further away from the travel date you book. True, there are a whole host of websites catering to the last minute deal fan, but the likelihood that something great will pop up and that you’ll snag it before another desperate last minute traveler is slim-to-none. So, get organized and book early. Your wallet and peace of mind will both thank you.
2. Travel on Non-Peak Days
In general, Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Saturdays tend to be the slowest travel days with the lowest airfare. However, holidays don’t schedule themselves around our travel needs, so make sure to take a close look at the fare calendar on booking sites to find the least expensive travel day for that particular season. In general, you’ll want to avoid traveling one to two days before the holiday, and if you don’t mind traveling on the day of the holiday itself, you’ll certainly score some fantastic deals. Likewise, if you have a flexible working schedule, try flying on airline “dead weeks,”—those few weeks in-between major holidays when airports are but an echoing void.
3. Take Public Transportation
Of course, traveling to-and-from the airport on the actual day of a holiday can wrack up quite the bill, as many inexpensive transport services won’t be running. No matter what day you travel, try to secure a spot on public transportation (which may be running on a restricted schedule) at least partway to your destination. Many bigger airports are either directly connected to public transportation or offer shuttles that will get you where you need to go.
4. Choose Your Airport Wisely
Direct flights are an alluring option for most travelers, and the airlines know it. That’s why nonstop flights tend to have a much higher price tag than those with a few layovers, even when it seems to defy all other economic sense. If you can stand it, choosing routes with layovers will save you a significant amount of money, especially during the holiday season. However, if you’re really counting the dollars and cents, do take into account how far away cheaper airports will be from your final destination, as you can sometimes negate your newly acquired savings getting to-and-from remote airports.
5. Buy Trip Insurance
During the holiday season, the travel grid is pushed to the very brink. Delays due purely to volume are always a given, and we’re not even going to mention what’s likely to happen if a winter storm throws itself into the mix. This time of year, trip insurance is really a must, especially if you’re not flying direct, in which case you may find yourself stranded indefinitely in an airport far away from friends and family. It’s a little bit to pay up front, but the costs you can recoup on canceled flights and lost baggage will make a big difference to your budget.
6. Take Full Advantage of the Web
These days, there are more budget airfare sites than we know what to do with. Check several of them before booking your flight, keeping in mind that some will include taxes and fees in their quote while others will not. Taking a look at your favorite airline sites is a good idea too, especially if you’d like to apply frequent flier miles — though keep in mind, there are often blackout dates around peak travel times. If you’ll be flying within a specific region, you’ll also want to look at airlines that devote themselves to limited regional routes as a part of their business model, as their fares are often cheaper than bigger competitors but are not included on most fare comparision sites.
7. Stick to Carry-On Only
Staying with carry-on baggage throughout your holiday travels is essential both for keeping prices down and for dealing smoothly with any delays. You’ll be thankful you have your toothbrush with you when you learn you’ll be spending the night in the terminal, and even more excited not to pay fees for checked baggage. Tip: If you regularly travel during this season to see family, ask if you can keep basic toiletries somewhere in your family’s house, eliminating the need to pack these items in your carry-on luggage.
8. Book Big Parties Separately
If you’ll be using a travel comparison site like Expedia or Travelocity to book a big party, it’s best to conduct your search one to three people at a time rather than all at once. Why? Airlines often have a limited number of seats available at lower rates, so if you’re searching for ten tickets and that flight only has three lower rate tickets available, the results will only show the higher priced tickets available for your entire party, rather than giving you the three lower priced tickets in the mix.
9. Complain (But Not in the Way You Think)
While some very vocal travelers will manage to wheedle preferential treatment out of airport workers during times of delay, there’s generally very little anyone on the ground can do fix to travel woes, and complaining only contributes to a stressful, hostile environment that’s unpleasant for everyone. However, airlines will often posthumously compensate passengers who complain about delayed or canceled flights via email or letter with significant travel vouchers. Doing this is up to the airline’s discretion, but we’ve found they tend to issue these without much hesitation, so long as you prove your case.
10. Look Beyond Air Travel
The saying, “Trains, planes and automobiles” doesn’t mean all three have to be included in your travel plans. Trains can be a great option when traveling in highly connected regions, like the Northeast, while buses are always a cheap (if lengthy) option. Cars can be a good way to go as well, but as food and gas costs can add up, it’s best to fill up any empty seats with carpoolers.
Traveling during the holiday season can certainly be an expensive venture, but it doesn’t have to be. With a little research and a healthy thrill for bargain hunting, the savvy traveler can find exactly what he or she needs at a very reasonable price. Enjoy the season, and happy traveling!
Winter travel photos courtesy of Shutterstock.