According to the Automobile America Association (AAA) newsletter, over 54 million people traveled at least 50 miles from home during Thanksgiving. That’s a 1.5% increase over 2021 and 98% of pre-pandemic volumes. Families and friends are eager to spend memorable time together and will continue to travel into 2023. Every little helpful tip in saving money and time helps for a memorable trip.
1. PLAN AHEAD
Plan ahead and pack your patience, whether you’re flying or driving to a destination. Air travel is up to nearly 99% of the 2019 volume. “Airport parking spaces fill up fast, so reserve a spot ahead of time and arrive early,” says Paula Twidale, AAA’s Senior Vice President of Travel. Be sure to apply for an AAA membership to receive an array of travel discounts.
2. OFF-SITE AIRPORT PARKING
On-site airport parking can cost as much as $50 a day. When leaving LAX, I always park at The Parking Spot for value and peace of mind. There are 22 U.S. Parking Spot garages serving 38 parking lots across the U.S. Los Angeles has two! They also honor AAA members with additional discounts.
First, join The Spot Club to waive their reservation fee. Then start earning free parking with every visit. Reserve your space ahead of time, especially during peak travel times. Select either covered or uncovered parking, and then select pay now for a discount or pay later when you leave the lot after your trip. Scan your QR code when you enter and drive to an open space. Make sure you save your payment information for quick and touchless entry and exit.
There is always a shuttle bus waiting to pick you up and drop you in front of your airline terminal. The drivers are friendly and helpful with luggage assistance. The Parking Spot is always open, well-lit and secure. When you return to your home airport, shuttles constantly loop around the airport, and you can track your shuttle on The Parking Spot app. Don’t forget to take a complimentary bottle of water to stay refreshed as you drive home.
3. BE SURE TO JOIN AIRLINE LOYALTY PROGRAMS
Be sure to join all the free airline membership programs and start collecting bonus miles or points when you fly. You may receive free perks such as free checked bags and priority boarding. Using points may help you upgrade from an economy seat to a more popular seat with extra leg room.
4. FLY AT CERTAIN TIMES
Airfare costs continue to rise, especially when flying to certain popular destinations. Try to purchase a ticket on weekdays instead of weekend, when prices are the highest. Search for the earliest or latest flight of the day. Tickets cost less than middle of the day flights. Plus if you leave early to the airport it helps you avoid traffic. Traveling on holidays such as Christmas Day or New Year’s Eve also offers significant savings.
5. PACK LIGHT
When possible, travel lightly when flying with only one carry-on luggage and one backpack or handbag. You will save money ($25 per bag, depending on airline) and a lot of time waiting around after your flight to retrieve your bag. It may take even longer if you miss a connecting flight and your luggage is delayed or lost once you reach your final destination. Recently I have been on 100% full flights and an announcement has been made for passengers to check their bags at the gate for a free bag check. When overhead bins are starting to fill, they will check your bag for free. Look online when checking-in and see if your flight is full with no available seats. Then you can take a chance by rolling your bag to the gate.
6. SNACKS FROM HOME
Unless you are flying First or Business Class, bring food from home to enjoy on the airplane. Purchasing food and snacks on planes are higher in sodium. Bring a bag of unsalted nuts, fresh grapes, homemade cookies, cheese and crackers, crudités with dip or your favorite sandwich. Here is a link to TSA approved liquids and food.
7. RESERVING A RENTAL CAR
Be sure to plan ahead and reserve a rental car well in advance of the trip. As with airlines, join car rental loyalty programs to sometimes wait in a quicker line and get upgrades. Don’t pick up or drop off car rentals during peak times. Experts say it is best to pick up on a Tuesday and drop off on Thursdays or Saturdays. Check your auto insurance to see if they cover rental cars. If yes, you may not need to pay for additional insurance.
8. RESERVE A LUXURY CAR
Rental Car companies are seeing higher demand and the cost per day is higher too. Consider Audi on demand, Audi dealerships across America are offering Audi on Demand premium rental car services providing long-term rentals and the opportunity to rent the fully electric Audi e-tron. It’s the first and only rental car company to do so. They advertise that fully loaded vehicles start at $59 a day. There are no lines, no paperwork, free onboard Wi-Fi and GPS. Select your location, select your Audi, select if you want to pick it up or have it delivered to you and drive away. Locations are Nationwide.
9. BOOK A BUSINESS HOTEL
Check out the City’s official tourism website to see if a convention is being held. Stay away from big convention cities: Las Vegas, Orlando and Washington D.C., if there is a large group, concert or organization taking over the town. Prices for a room, transportation, and activities may double in price. Try traveling on a weekend, because many hotel’s room rates are less during the week.
10. PURCHASE A TRAVEL PACKAGE
Try to book everything via a package deal to save some money. Many online cruise and travel websites, membership sites (Costco Travel), and frequent flyer plans offer packages that can save you hundreds of dollars. Reserve and pay for all of your travel, accommodations and transfers at the same time.
Here’s to safe travels in 2023!
This article was featured in Luxe Beat Magazine in December 2022.