How to Travel Home on the Cheap


‘Tis the season where visions of sugarplums dancing intertwine with the craving for your grandma’s freshly baked apple pie. With the holidays fast approaching and the travel industry still reeling from economic woes, U.S. consumers are feeling the financial pinch.

There have been a slew of reports indicating that between new travel fees and increased ticket prices, the cost for holiday travel is nearly double that of holiday seasons in the past.

Traditionally, the holiday season is a financial boon for the airlines as annually the pilgrimage to visit friends and family occurs across the nation. Statistically speaking, the Wednesday before Thanksgiving is the heaviest travel day of the year. Only  around 5 – 6 % of holiday trips are by air with the remaining  bulk of travelers navigating the roadways.

Regardless of your holiday plans, there are some simple ways to save some cash in the process. If you plan on driving, you can find a carpool buddy via Craigslist.com to share some of the expenses and always drive the speed limit to avoid burning excess fuel.

However, some distances are just too long to drive. So if you plan on making a trip:

  • Buy your tickets early: Everyday the prices are going up and with many airlines cutting down on their number of flights, chances are there will be very limited deals on last minute travel
  • Travel on the day of celebration: It may bum you out not to partake in your families morning traditions the day of the big feast, but the money you can save will certainly cheer you up. Claire, a Los Angeles resident, recently saved a whopping $300 on her airfare to Montana by deciding to catch an early flight Thanksgiving morning instead of flying in the day before.
  • Travel Off Peak: Airports are swarmed with travelers the day before the big festivities. By avoiding the peak travel days and flying in a couple days earlier or leaving a few days later can save you both money and transportation stress.
  • Comparison Shop: Online shopping makes bargain hunting easy. Travel sites such as Kayak.com, TravelZoo.com and Farecompare.com are all portals specializing in travel bargains. Using them will save you cash.

Despite all these tips, if you find that there is no way to fit holiday travel into this years budget, video conferencing is the next best thing to being there. By buying video cameras (or using the ones already built into your computers) for all involved parties and plugging in, you can break bread, have a chat and feel like part of the celebration, even if you are miles away from home.