The holidays are a mixed blessing for many. Spouses have a chance to see their families, but must also visit with their in-laws. Children are able to play with their cousins, but must also visit with smelly Uncle Alfred. People give gifts, throw parties and travel, but spend money.
The holiday season is a time of fun and blessing, but it also is a season of increased expenses for most families. With these three tips, families can save money over the holidays. When their financial strain is reduced, the holidays become much more fun.
Alternate Means of Travel
People who are considering traveling long distances may want to consider alternate means of travel. Of course flying is the most convenient way to go somewhere, but it also is the most expensive. On the other hand, hitchhiking, which is the cheapest, is extremely dangerous and illegal in many areas. Two practical and affordable ways to travel are by train and by car.
Trains tickets are much cheaper than plane tickets, and trains go nearly everywhere planes do. While they can take much longer, opting to take a train might be a wise choice for those who are only a few hundred miles from their destination. Passengers do not have the stress of driving, and trains can cover several hundred miles in a single day.
Those who choose this mode of transportation will want to consider the many discounts available. Amtrack, the largest passenger train company in the U.S., offers discounts for children, seniors, AAA members, NARP (National Association of Railroad Passengers) members, active military personnel and their families, veterans and students.
For families, driving often is the cheapest way to travel, especially when ticket prices increase over the holiday season. With driving, the larger families see the most savings. For instance, a family of four can travel in one vehicle and sleep in a single hotel room if the drive requires multiple days. That is four plane tickets the family did not have to buy.
Often driving saves even couples money, and single friends can consider carpooling with other buddies who are travelling. Yet, families will save the most by driving. Sure, driving with a two-year-old is annoying. But, if it can save a few hundred dollars, then is it worth the inconvenience?
Meals are one expense that travelers often do not consider and have a hard time avoiding. Planning out and packing meals can provide significant
savings. Even a stop for a quick sandwich, drink and side easily costs $10.00. In an airport or rest area, these prices are inflated. In addition to food, people flying should bring an empty water bottle. After passing through security, this can be filled at a drinking fountain. By packing some meals, snacks and drinks, people can avoid paying for expensive fast food and dining.
Another major expense people face over the holidays is gifts. Nearly all of the holidays involve giving a gift of some sort. Even Thanksgiving requires people to bring a dish. (Yes, husbands, you do need to make a side to bring; an empty bowl does not count as a “dish”).
Rather than spending astronomical amounts of money of gifts, try to come up with creative ideas. Everyone appreciates homemade cookies and
breads. Children, depending upon their age, can offer to help elderly grandparents with physical tasks, such as shovelling snow or repairing some steps. Perhaps smelly Uncle Alfred would appreciate a fine limburger cheese?
The holidays are often both a time of joy and pain. In order to have the most fun, people should celebrate the holidays as their budgets allow. These three tips can help people celebrate without breaking the bank.