Whether you’re looking for a quick little getaway, a planned family vacation, or business travel, knowing the best times and ways to travel will help you save money.
Understanding seasonality, the slower days and months, the shoulder season, and the busiest days, months, and times for travel is an important first step in the process. Having to spend less money also makes your trip more enjoyable!
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Of course, sometimes schedules dictate travel opportunities, such as kids being out of school, vacation days allowed, or other demands on your life, but, in general, understanding the ebb-and-flow of the travel industry will help you find deals on your trips.
In order to save money, you want to understand and avoid peak travel dates, create a realistic budget and stick to it, and scour the internet to find price comparisons and other deals.
Busiest Travel Days of the Year
- The busiest day to travel no matter what time of the year, but specifically summertime, is Fridays.
- Airlines report that Monday mornings, specifically 7 am, are the busiest of the week during the workweek, and any flexible travel (read non-business related) should be avoided.
- Avoiding planning your trips to begin or end on a Monday or Friday can help you avoid crowded airports and traffic jams on the roadways.
- Instead, the slowest days of the week to travel are Tuesdays and Wednesdays. Typically, the airlines are at less than capacity, and flights aren’t packed like cattle cars. What’s more, most airlines offer deals and promotions to travel on their slower days, so a little research will find you better fares and rewards.
Days to Avoid Traveling
Additionally, below are some of the worst travel days in terms of crowds and prices. Airlines charge more when peak travel days occur, gas prices surge, (plus hotels cost more).
- Wednesday before Thanksgiving: The busiest travel day of the year, avoiding traveling on the day before Thanksgiving is one of the best things you can do for your sanity or your wallet. If you must travel, consider Monday or Tuesday before and Friday afterward.
- Memorial Day: Memorial Day is the official kick-off for summer travel and is the second busiest day of the year to travel, meaning airports are packed, flights are crowded, and traffic jams are everywhere. Therefore, an intelligent traveler will avoid traveling on Memorial Day (and Memorial Day Weekend) as much as possible.
- Labor Day: The official end of summer isn’t until late September, but as far as traveling is concerned, Labor Day is the last major traffic headache before Thanksgiving.
- Christmas and Christmas Eve: Christmas can always be a mad dash to make it to loved ones in time, and Christmas and Christmas Eve are days to avoid.
- July 4th: Independence Day is hit or miss with how busy it can be, but the days surrounding the 4th of July can be some of the busiest of the summer season, so avoid them if you can.
Budgeting for Your Trip
Avoiding peak travel days is only one way you can expertly save money on your travels. Budgeting is also crucial, both in terms of saving you money and keeping your trip costs manageable.
When budgeting your trip, analyze;
- Transportation costs
- Baggage costs
- Hotel costs (including parking at the hotel!)
- Planning for meals
- Play money to spend on entertainment and souvenirs
Taking these factors into account will help you create a realistic budget you can afford. It's a good idea to take your budget and add 10-20% on top for contingencies or emergencies. Best case, you come home with extra money left over!
Finding the Most Cost Efficient Way to Travel
In addition to avoiding travel during peak times, using a price comparison tool can help you find deals on just about anything from hotels to airlines and even gas and restaurants.
There are apps and websites devoted to helping you find the best deals on Airbnb, last minute business class (or non-business) flights, hotels, Broadway shows, and more.
Keep in mind that unless your trip is for a business reason, take some time and enjoy the journey and, most importantly, the people you’re traveling with! But even on a business trip, you can probably find a few small ways to enjoy the trip. Certainly, all the airline and hotel points you earn will be very appreciated when you go to book your next personal trip!
Making memories is the most crucial feature of travel and traveling affordably. Efficient preparation and planning for your trip, whether traveling with family, friends, loved ones, or on your own, will help you save money, be safe, and have the time of your lives.
Avoiding trips during peak travel dates, using price comparison tools and websites, as well as setting a reasonable budget are some of the best tactics for a fun, affordable vacation. If it’s time to travel, it’s essential to do it intelligently.
How about you? Do you have additional tips for saving money while you travel?
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