How To Travel for Cheap Around New Year’s

One mature woman is standing on the air-stair of her plane with her boarding pass and has turned round to give one last look to her home before she goes travelling.
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It’s only October but we’re already deep into the booking season for holiday travel, and that includes travel for New Year’s. 

Traveling for New Year’s isn’t quite as popular a reason for traveling as say Thanksgiving or Christmas, but it’s still an incredibly busy time at airports and other travel hubs. According to research from WalletHub, more than 107 million Americans planned to travel for New Year’s 2022. 

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New Year’s is already a big spending occasion, with 65% of Americans spending at least $50 on New Year’s Eve food and drinks, according to the WalletHub research. Adding travel expenses to the tab can drive up the expense tremendously. 

So how can you travel for cheap around New Year’s? Let’s explore. 

Start Looking at Fares Now 

“Some industry experts actually recommend looking for fares 8 to 10 months out, or even a year out, as most people aren’t booking then,” said Julie Ramhold, consumer analyst with DealNews.com. “But that doesn’t guarantee you’ll get the best rate, so it’s best to use an app like Hopper or a site like Google Flights or something similar to track your preferred routes. The sooner you start tracking, the better, as apps like Hopper will tell you when it’s best to book, and when you should wait a bit longer for a better deal. And if the fare is unlikely to drop any further, they’ll let you know about that, too.”

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Be Flexible With Your Dates

“This is crucial to saving money on any travel, but obviously if you’re planning a trip around the new year, then you might think it may be harder to be flexible,” Ramhold said. “But the truth is that if you can be flexible by even a day or two, it could mean saving more than if you rigidly stick to particular travel dates. The more flexible you can be, the better chances you’ll be able to snag a great deal on whatever travel you’re planning around that time.”

Avoid Foreign Transaction Fees

“If traveling overseas, consider using a credit card that will waive these fees,” Ramhold said. “When you’re overseas, it can be easy to get caught up in the travel and experiences you’re participating in and not worry about the cost until you see the bill later. But things like foreign transaction fees can add up and make your trip more expensive, so consider using a credit card that will avoid those to save on your trip overall.”

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Use Miles or Points To Book Flights

“If you’re a frequent flier, you may have accrued miles or points from your many trips,” Ramhold said. “It’s worth using these to book your flight around the new year, as that means you’ll save cash on your actual booking and can use those funds for other things, like a nicer hotel to stay in or even experiences on your trip to make it even more memorable.”

Use Cashback Apps

“Use sites like Rakuten to earn cash back on your eligible bookings,” Ramhold said. “For instance, online travel agencies like Expedia, Priceline, Hotels.com, Marriott.com, Hilton, IHG, and more are on these sites with cash back rates as high as 4%. If you’re being flexible, you can also jump on special promotions that these sites offer — for example, Rakuten will have triple cash back days sometimes, or select stores will have higher rates of cash back.” 

Book Through Your Credit Card Portal 

“Select credit cards may offer perks for booking travel directly through their dedicated portals,” Ramhold said. “For instance, you may find better rates, but it’s not a guarantee and you should also be cautious if doing so will mean losing privileges if you’re members of loyalty programs for things like hotels or rental cars.”

Book Through Costco 

“If you’re looking for alternative ways to book and are a member of a warehouse club, consider booking through those portals instead,” Ramhold said. “For instance, Costco will have special packages as well as hotel, cruise, and rental car deals, and you can usually get Costco member savings on these bookings, and in some cases you’ll get other perks like Costco Shop cards, free nights, daily meals and complimentary mini-bars and more.”

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Don’t Give In to Tourist Traps

“It can be so easy to give in to the hype of certain spots especially around the holidays, so it’s worth booking any experiences before you actually arrive at your destination,” Ramhold said. “For instance, if you travel to New York City, you may find yourself tempted to go to Times Square for New Year’s Eve, but it’s an expensive experience. You may have to pay to even get into the square, and if you want to frequent the bars or restaurants around the perimeter, expect absolutely exorbitant prices. You’ll save more by booking a hotel and celebrating elsewhere in the city, avoiding the touristy hot spots. When in doubt, check with a local to see how they celebrate and take a page from their book — it’ll be more authentic and usually far cheaper than following the out-of-towners.”

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About the Author

Nicole Spector is a writer, editor, and author based in Los Angeles by way of Brooklyn. Her work has appeared in Vogue, the Atlantic, Vice, and The New Yorker. She's a frequent contributor to NBC News and Publishers Weekly. Her 2013 debut novel, "Fifty Shades of Dorian Gray" received laudatory blurbs from the likes of Fred Armisen and Ken Kalfus, and was published in the US, UK, France, and Russia — though nobody knows whatever happened with the Russian edition! She has an affinity for Twitter.
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