Monday, 26 November 2018

If you're thinking about hitting the road for the holidays, you're not alone.

In 2017, more than 107 million Americans traveled 50 miles or more from home during Dec. 23 through Jan. 1, a 3.1 percent increase from a year earlier and the most ever recorded, according to AAA.

For many people, staying home for the holidays is no longer the preferred way to celebrate. Maybe you're traveling to see family, or perhaps you're planning to pack up the whole family to experience the holidays abroad or across the country. Christmas in Aspen, anyone? Chanukah in Israel?

Whatever holiday travel plans you have in mind, consider these tips for making your trip stress-free and budget-friendly.

Prepare your family's expectations. Naturally, celebrating in a new location means the holiday won't be just the same as it's always been. That may mean your traditional holiday dinner with turkey and trimmings will be replaced with an exotic, delicious meal that is traditional in your location. It may also mean you won't have the traditional decorations to which your family is accustomed. Experiencing new things is part of the richness and joy of travel, but make sure your family is prepared to experience the holidays in a new way so they won't be disappointed.

Ship gifts in advance. If giving gifts is an important part of your holiday tradition, consider shipping them to your destination ahead of time. That way, you won't have to worry about hiding them in the car or dragging extra luggage onto the airplane. If your trip will involve visiting family members or friends, consider shopping online for gifts and have them shipped directly to your friend's or family's home.

Flex your travel dates. If you don't have to arrive or depart on a certain day, be flexible. For instance, if you're traveling by air, you may get a cheaper rate by flying on the actual holiday rather than the day before or after. By car, you may avoid traffic by traveling on the actual holiday or in the early morning hours. You may also find better deals on hotels, airfare and attractions if you wait and travel in January, when the crowds are slimmer.

Don't over-plan. When planning a family vacation, it's common to schedule activities and attractions for each day of the trip. But a holiday family vacation is different; your family will probably want some down time to relax, visit and enjoy the holiday together. Avoid overscheduling to ensure you and your crew will have time to reenergize and celebrate.

Budget for the holidays. The holiday season can be expensive with gifts, parties, decorations and special meals. Adding a trip into the mix is likely to make the season even more costly. Think about the usual holiday costs that you could cut out and apply the savings to your trip: For instance, if you'll be out of town, do you need to buy the tree, garland and other decorations you usually purchase? Can you reduce the number or price of gifts in lieu of the trip?

Remember, your holiday trip will need to be part of your total holiday expense. To determine how much you can spend, calculate your expected income from now through the holidays. Subtract all your fixed expenses, such as housing, utilities, transportation, groceries, insurance and other bills. The amount left over is the amount you have available for holiday spending—including gifts, travel, holiday clothing and decorations. Make sure your travel expenses can be covered with this amount, along with all your other holiday purchases.

Consider financing. If you're not able to pay cash for your holiday getaway but you're committed to taking the trip, think about other options for financing your remote holiday experience. For instance, a personal loan often provides cash financing with interest rates that are significantly lower than credit card rates. With a BBVA Compass Express Personal Loan, you can apply for a loan that offers competitive low rates that make borrowing affordable and easy. In some cases, these loans can be approved quickly, potentially providing you access to same-day cash.

If getting away for the holidays sounds like the perfect way to celebrate this year, start planning your trip. With these tips, you can enjoy a holiday away from home without stress and without breaking the budget.

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