Sense & Centsibility Blog

How to Save Money Traveling Over the Holidays

Can you believe the holidays are here already?

Well like it or not, it's that time of year and for many people that means traveling. We already spend a lot of money on food, decorations, gifts, wrapping paper and parties. But do you budget for traveling expenses?

Depending on how far you travel, the costs can really add up. So here are some tips to save money while traveling this holiday season.


Stopping at the gas station is a necessity to fill up your tank, but it can really cost you if you're buying snacks/drinks. Same thing goes for stopping at restaurants. So if you're driving, a great way to save quite a bit of money is by packing a cooler.

If it's not a long trip, bring some snacks like granola bars, crackers, fruit, etc. For longer trips, think about easy meals to tide you over like pre-made sandwiches. And don't forget the water!


Check your tires for wear and replace if necessary. Sure, tires will cost money, but it will save you time and money by being proactive and taking care of it ahead of time instead of while you're already on the road.

Make sure you have enough air in your tires and stop along the way to check again — unless your car gives you those warning notifications.

Also, get an oil change if needed so you're getting the best possible gas mileage.


Whether you're flying or driving, see if you can stay with family or friends instead of having to pay for a hotel.

If that's not possible, check for online deals for hotels or other reputable vacation rental sites. If going the hotel route, find a place that offers free continental breakfast.


Try to find pet friendly lodging if you plan to bring your pets.

If driving and boarding your pets, look for one in your destination city (as long as your fur kids travel well).

For overnight trips, that may save you one to two days of boarding fees by dropping them off later and picking them up earlier.

Even better, check with friends/family to see if they can watch your pets while you're out of town either at their place or yours.

Up in the Air

  1. Don't wait until the last minute to book your flight; it's more expensive to book right before you plan to leave. So plan ahead and save money.
  2. See if you can bundle your airfare, hotel, and car rental to save money.
  3. Bring a few snacks and an empty water bottle you can refill to avoid excessive airport charges for food/drinks.
  4. Instead of packing up presents, ship them ahead of time and wrap them when you get there. If you do bring gifts on the plane, don't wrap them because you may have to open them up for a TSA check.
  5. Buy gift cards as presents; they take up zero room and you can even send some electronically if that's easier.
  6. Instead of parking there, ask a friend or family member to drop you off at the airport while you park at their place. Or, check into shuttle options. Either way it's likely going to be cheaper than airport parking.
  7. If possible, be flexible with your flight times. If you are willing to take the red eye or leave very early in the morning, flights are typically cheaper.
  8. If you and your family's schedules are really flexible, celebrate the holiday a little late when flights are cheaper.
  9. If you don't have to go far once your plane lands, use a shuttle or take Lyft/Uber to get to your final destination. Depending on the city, those options are usually cheaper than cabs, but be sure to do your homework. And not having to rent a car could save you hundreds of dollars.

  Wishing you a happy and safe holiday season from all of us at LSS Financial Counseling!

Author Elaina Johannessen is a Program Director with LSS Financial Counseling.