10 hacks to save time and money in the airport

If you’re reading this, you’re probably gearing up to board a holiday flight or take a Christmas road trip. So you may be wondering how to save a few bucks this holiday season, not to mention lower your stress while you’re on the road or in the air.

The good news is you’re already saving time (count ’em, 19 months) with the extension of the Real ID deadline, so now it’s about those smaller hacks that can really make a difference. We’ve rounded up the best holiday travel deals, from rental car discounts to cheap hotels, plus other tips and tricks for saving time and money — so you can spend more of your energy being merry.

1. Don’t fly on the wrong day

Calling all last-minute planners who are just now booking their holiday flights: Sure, you could have saved some extra cash if you’d planned ahead, but you can still be smart about which days you fly later this month. We reached out to both Expedia and Kayak to find out about which days are the most (and least) expensive to travel for the holidays. You can learn more about when to fly around Christmas when you read our guide to finding cheap flights. 

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2. Use flexible fare calendars

Expedia spokesperson Melanie Fish recommends playing around with flexible fare calendars for both your departure and return. As you’re monitoring flight deals, you can also subscribe to price alerts on the Expedia app “so you can snag the best price,” Fish said. Kayak, too, offers price alerts and forecasts, plus an Explore tool that allows you to set your own budget and check out options within that range.

Affordable Destinations for Winter

3. Buy a flight now, pay later

Instead of dishing out for your trip up front, Expedia’s new partnership with Afterpay allows you to make biweekly payments on your airfare without incurring interest. Using “buy now, pay later” platforms can “reduce your travel costs by splitting the payments over time while on a budget,” money coach and Afterpay ambassador Lea Landaverde said in a press release. “Just don’t forget to account for the future payments in your budget after the holidays!” 

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4. Save on hotels and rental cars

With sky-high flight prices, one of the easiest ways to save is on your hotel or rental car. We’ve got our eye on last-minute holiday travel deals like 15% off “late escape” hotels on Booking.com. Priceline’s “Season of Savings” features discounts up to $50 on select hotel and rental car deals when using the code TISTHESEASON through Dec. 12. Check out our guide to the latest holiday travel deals.

Season of Savings

5. Get help with lost luggage