The holidays are a great time to get together with family. Unfortunately, the size of our great country makes holiday travel a challenge. When you consider the increased demand for travel at peak times, it is no wonder that the holidays can be the most expensive time of year to take a trip. Fortunately, there are some creative steps that travelers can take to reduce their holiday travel expenses.

How to Save on Holiday Travel

Here are six different tactics you can use to try to save money on holiday travel.

Shop Late.

Holiday travelIdeally, people would book their holiday travel months in advance. While it is too late to do that this year, there can still be some last minute bargains. The key is to be aware of sales that occur on all airlines, not just your favorite one. You may have to make airfare searches a regular part of your day, or try to save a search on a site like FareCompare. But be careful here — if you aren’t close enough to drive and you can’t find a deal, you may spend the holidays away from your family.

Keep Looking For Frequent Flier Award Seats.

As incredible as it may seem, some airlines will continue to open up seats in their frequent flier programs as the holidays approach. Just like tickets that you would pay for, you will have to keep searching the various airlines with which you have sufficient reward miles. Also, consider a first class ticket as these awards may have better availability around the holidays when business travel is low.

Consider Alternate Forms Of Transportation.

Beyond airlines, you may have the option of train travel or even one of the new luxury bus services. These new buses offer low fares and go way beyond Greyhound by offering amenities such as free WiFi Internet service.

Rent A Car.

Even if you already own a car, you can rent a much more fuel efficient one for a long holiday trip. Rental cars generally come with unlimited miles that can save you wear and tear on your car. At the same time, rentals can be very inexpensive during the holidays when there is little business demand. Be sure to rent your car at a neighborhood location, as you will incur fewer taxes and fees than you would at the airport.

Travel On The Holiday.

Another trick is to fly on the day of holiday itself. A short trip on Thanksgiving morning can get you to your destination in time for dinner, while a Christmas day flight can allow you to open presents in one city and enjoy a dinner party in another. New Year’s Eve and New Year’s day also times when airfare may be purchased for a more reasonable price.

Go Virtual.

When all else fails and you are unable to find a reasonably price way to travel on the holidays, consider other means of connecting with family. Set up a webcam with another household so that eveyone can exchange greetings over a video conference. By using services such as Google Plus, several different families can engage in one big conference, which may be the next best thing to being there. Holiday travel will always be challenge, but it is not insurmountable. By considering all available options, you can still find ways to see your family over the holidays this year.

Jason D. Steele is personal finance writer and a consumer advocate.He specializes in helping people eliminate credit card debt and maximize rewards. His work can be found at personal finance sites like Money Crashers, Ask Mr Credit Card, and at his home page.

Photo by Daz /SWAN MAN via Flickr

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