The Holiday Season is the perfect time to reunite with friends and family who don’t live nearby. Of course, traveling during the holidays can be expensive and hectic, but it doesn’t have to be. After all, the holidays are full of excitement and should be about good company, large quantities of delicious food, and making memories.
In this handy guide, State Van Rental will help you keep your travel plans under budget so you can get the most out of your holiday getaway.
Rent a Van
It’s worth noting that the easiest way to drastically reduce expenses is to rent a van to travel—especially if you’re able to travel with a group. Not only does splitting rental and gas fees among a group save a whole lot of money, but it also makes your journey much more enjoyable when you have someone to chat with along the way. Traveling in comfort, on your own schedule, with people you know, is always the best option. If your holiday getaway destination is within driving distance, we highly recommend road tripping in one of our convenient van rentals.
1. Booking Your Journey
If you’re not able to rent a van to travel because of distance, age, driver’s license issues, or any other reason, and you do need to take an alternate form of travel, don’t just book the first trip you find. There are ways to keep the cost of traveling during the holidays down to a minimum—even if your need to fly.
Start Planning Now
The earlier you book your travel plans, even if you’re just renting a van to travel, the better off you’re going to be. As the holidays draw closer, the cost of flights, trains, and buses gets increasingly higher. If you wait until the last minute, you’re probably going to end up paying a premium, and there’s always a chance that travel accommodations won’t be available at all. Play it safe, and secure your tickets now before the demand and prices skyrocket.
The internet is a powerful tool in the right hands. These days, you don’t need to go to every individual airline website to compare prices. There are plenty of travel websites that will save you some serious time by comparing prices and consolidating all of the information for you on one page. Spend some time scoping out your options on one of these website. Just remember to clear your cookies if you return to the same site, as many keep a record of previous visits and may hike up the prices to create a sense of urgency.
Price jumps are common among a number of websites and it happens more often than you may think. Travel companies often track your IP information, and they may adjust their rates on the fly if they see that you’re shopping around. One workaround is to only browse rates using an incognito browser. If you do find a fantastic deal, don’t wait too long to place your order. When it comes to the cost of traveling during the holidays, there’s no guarantee that your reservation and the corresponding price will be the same, or even available, in a moment’s time.
You may be able to save quite a bit of money by taking a bus over a plane, but is it really worth it? If you end up traveling for ten hours instead of one, are you really making the economical choice? Sometimes it’s a better idea to spend a little bit more to make your trip faster and more enjoyable. For some people, this very reason is the impetus behind their choice to rent a van to travel.
Be Flexible with Dates
While it may not always be possible depending on your plans, flexibility with dates can go a long way in reducing transit costs. Traveling a day or two before or after a holiday usually means you’re going to end up paying premium rates, but traveling on the holiday can be significantly cheaper.
Most people don’t want to be traveling on a holiday, but if you find an early morning or late night flight that fits into your schedule, you can make traveling during the holidays quite affordable. If you’re willing to wait until the holiday season is over, you can enjoy some of the lowest rates of the year in January, with airfare dropping an average of 40 percent lower than typical holiday fares.
If you choose to rent a car or van to travel, you can take advantage of similar rate adjustments which may be significantly lower depending on the date.
Look for Connected Flights
Although flying to your destination directly is more convenient, it’s not always the most frugal option. Often, flights with connections cost less than the direct flight, and the difference in time may be negligible. If you find a good price on a flight with a short layover, you can save quite a bit of money while still staying on schedule.
Use Points, Deals, and Coupons
If you’re not able to rent a van to travel, and you’re a member of a frequent flier program that provides points, miles, or other travel rewards, now might be the time to use them. Even if you don’t find tickets that allow you to use only rewards as payment, you may be able to make a partial payment to reduce the overall cost. Travel awards often expire sooner than you realize, so make sure to check your expiration dates before it’s too late.
While travel coupons may be few and far between around the holidays, it’s still worth an online search. Join travel forums, and ask experienced members for tips on the latest bargains. You may also want to consider subscribing to various travel company email newsletters to ensure you get notified when sales go live. Some companies even offer rewards for first-time visitors and customers, so spend some time scouring the internet for deals now, before peak season hits.
2. Frugal Traveling
Once your trip is booked, there are still additional expenses associated with traveling during the holidays. Continue reading below to learn more about how to keep your other expenditures to a minimum so you can splurge when it counts.
Ship Your Gifts Ahead of Time
If you’re going to rent a van to travel, you should have plenty of room to bring your gifts with you. However, if you’re taking public transit, especially a plane, you need to plan ahead. Traveling light isn’t just more comfortable, it’s also much cheaper. Many airlines have weight restrictions, and you could end up paying some steep fees if you exceed them even slightly. Pack as light as possible, and make sure you check luggage size regulations beforehand.
If you do bring any gifts on a flight, wait until you arrive at your destination to wrap them. Airport security is heightened during the holidays, and the TSA may choose to remove the wrapping for inspection.
If you shop for gifts locally, you’re going to have to pay to ship them. However, you can save quite a bit of money and time by simply ordering gifts online and having them shipped to your holiday destination. Just make sure you get in touch with the person who will receive the packages, and make a list of each gift so you can make sure that everything arrived.
Avoid Driving to the Airport
During the holiday season, airport parking rates take a steep hike. If possible, ask a friend or family member to give you a ride to and from the airport. If you aren’t able to find a ride, look into a vehicle rental service with a complimentary pick-up/ drop-off or driver service. Here at State Van Rental, we’re happy to help you rent a van to travel, and we can drop it off or pick it up virtually anywhere in California. We also have additional drivers available.
Be Willing to Give Up Your Seat
If you’re willing to wait for the next flight, you may be able to make some serious cash. On overbooked flights, you may be able to offer your seat in exchange for a cash voucher that can be as much as $1,350, depending on your wait. While it’s not a guaranteed option, it’s worth showing up to your gate a little bit early and asking if the flight is overbooked. Make sure you know exactly when the next flight is arriving so you don’t accidentally miss your plans.
3. Frugal Tips Once You’ve Arrived
You’ve made it to your destination, and hopefully you’ve kept trip expenses to a minimum. Now is the time to really enjoy yourself and have a good time with your loved ones. At the same time, you don’t want to start the new year penniless, so you should still try to keep a frugal mindset whenever possible.
Skip the Hotel
Of course, the easiest and most effective way to reduce lodging costs is to stay at a friend or family member’s house. The problem is that when traveling during the holidays, it’s not always possible or comfortable to stay at your party host’s home. Often, the house is crowded, and accommodations may not be available.
The next logical thought is usually to reserve a hotel room, but these days there are better and cheaper options. There are websites that allow you to rent single rooms or multiple rooms in local homes. If you’re traveling with a group, simply rent a van to travel, and rent a house for your stay. You may be surprised by how affordable these convenient options can be, especially when split among multiple travelers.
Whether you book a bed and breakfast or a hotel room, it’s important that you book your accommodations in advance. Lodging costs skyrocket during holiday seasons, just like transit. Remember to keep convenience and location in mind as you consider where to stay. If you have to drive an hour every time you go to or from your host’s home, you’re probably not going to be saving money, even if the nightly fee is lower. Try to find the cheapest option that’s close to where you’ll be spending the most time.
Go Grocery Shopping
When you’re traveling for the holidays, and you’re not in your usual comfort zone, it’s normal to want to spoil yourself, and there’s nothing wrong with that. Still, eating out for every meal is going to get expensive fast, even if you’re traveling solo. At the beginning of your trip, buy enough groceries to last at least a day or two. If you don’t have a refrigerator available where you’re staying, make sure you buy foods that won’t spoil. You’ll probably still end up eating at restaurants, but you won’t have to rely on them.
Rent a Vehicle and Carpool
Renting a vehicle allows you to be self-sufficient. You don’t want to have to rely on public transportations or other people when you want to go somewhere. If you’re having a gathering of friends and family, you may want to rent a van to travel around town. Not only will you keep gas costs to a minimum, but you can also enjoy the comradery of driving in one vehicle, instead of splitting up every time you go somewhere.
Time to Hit the Road
Hopefully, these tips on frugal travel during the holiday season were helpful. You can use some or all of these tips to ensure you save some money this holiday trip. Whether you rent a van to travel or give up your plane seat for some extra cash, State Van Rental is happy to help.
Get the Best Value at State Van Rental
If you’ve decided to rent a van to travel this holiday season, choose our fleet at State Van Rental. In addition to our new, clean, high-quality fleet and a variety of options, we offer affordable amenities such as extra drivers, child car seats, roadside assistance, collision damage waivers, GPS navigation units, and more.
It’s no secret that traveling for the holidays can be stressful and pricey. Reduce your stress and your spending when you rent from State Van Rental. If you have any questions, concerns, or special requests, we encourage you to give us a call at (888) 826-5212 and one of our friendly team members can assist you. Reserve your van online today.