Organizational tips to save money (and sanity) on Holiday travel

Traveling this holiday season?

If you are one of the estimated 92 million people who just nodded your head to that question, keep reading.

Traveling can be during this time of year, especially if the weather is iffy and/or small children are involved. The key to surviving with your savings and sanity in tact is, of course, a little bit of organization and advanced planning. In that spirit, we’ve put together seven tips for getting your trip buttoned up well before you head out the door.

#1. Map out where the cheapest gas prices are & plan pit stops in those areas

Taking a car trip out of state? Or even just out of the area? Research gas prices where you’re heading and plan to fill up your car wherever it is cheapest. There are four good online tools for researching gas prices:,, and That 30¢ per gallon you save can quickly add up if you are traveling a great distance. For example, if you’re driving 100 miles both to and from your destination, a 30¢ per gallon savings will fatten your wallet by $3 assuming you get an average of 20 miles/gallon. Think about it, if you found that money on the street, you’d be ecstatic!

#2. Pack food for the trip

Whether you’re going by plane, train or automobile, having sandwiches and snacks on hand will significantly cut costs. If you’re traveling by train or car, bring your own drinks as well. In addition to saving you money, it is also a great way to ensure you’re eating healthily and avoiding the dreaded creep of extra holiday pounds.

#3. Ship Smart

Getting there by air? Before you get to the airport to find you’re oversized bag is going to cost you big time, compare the costs of shipping your presents ahead of time versus how much you’ll be paying in baggage fees. Additionally, see if you can save by pre-paying baggage fees. Finally, according to, “if you are a heavy packer you’ll want to fly with Airtran, Alaska, Frontier and Southwest, even if there’s a cheaper fare on another ailrine.”

#4. Rent Smart

Need to rent a car? Contact your auto insurance company to see if your current policy applies to rental vehicles so you don’t have to pay through the rental agency itself when you’re already covered. Compare car size as opposed to miles you’ll be driving. Often, larger vehicles will be less expensive than smaller or hybrid gas-savers. If you’re traveling a good distance, then probably the gas-saver will be what you need. But if you’re flying in and just driving from the airport to your destination and around town, you can save a good chunk of dough by choosing the rental car that has the best deal.

#5. Get your gift list in order early

We have a free printable gift worksheet you can download at Use it to make a list of exactly what you need to get for whom. Don’t go into the store with an “I’ll know it when it hits me” attitude because that will inevitably lead to going over budget. Scour newspaper circulars, online site deals or mobile notifications and try to purchase when items are on sale. Then wrap and tag them immediately. This not only cuts down on the mad rush to get things done, but you won’t tend to spend more simply to save time.

#6. Bring entertainment

If you are staying overnight somewhere, be sure to bring “things to do” for grownups and children. Idle time can bring about quick trips to town, which in turn lead to spending money you don’t want or need to spend. So pack CDs, books, e-readers, games and tablets. Go with small items. They’ll save both room in the car or room in the carry-ons. I personally think the Find-A-Car Bingo game pictured above looks awesome!

#7. Book well in advance

Every week you wait to book your tickets after the last week in October usually adds $5 to your ticket cost. If you’re not staying with family, book a hotel room well in advance and check travel sites to get the best deals or package deals.

Bottom line, holiday travel is often a harrowing experience but it will be less so if you’re not “last minute!” Organize, research, and prepare; and not only will you be able to save some bucks, but the peace of mind in it to relax and actually enjoy your holiday with family and friends will be priceless and memorable.

How far will you be traveling this holiday?