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Holiday Travel and Airfare Tips and Financial Considerations

Start Your Thanksgiving Travel (and Mental) Prep Now

We're thrilled to present this smart Learnvest story here on Savvy!

Thanksgiving is still a while away, but tomorrow is the LearnVest deadline for settling on your holiday travel plans (check out the LearnVest Fall To-Dos). In addition to buying plane tickets, now is the time to make sometimes difficult holiday decisions. Will you travel halfway across the country to spend the holiday with your parents, or will you stay local with your significant other's family? Who will pay for your holiday tickets: You? Your partner, even if he has to travel to see your family?

Here's how to talk about these sticky questions and get your holiday plan in order:

  1. Discuss Which Holidays Your Family Prizes Most. — Farnoosh Torabi, our money etiquette expert, says: "Think a month down the road. Which holiday does your family cherish the most: Thanksgiving? Christmas? Hanukkah?" Whether you're splitting time with your partner's family or figuring out how to spend money on your own plane tickets, don't be afraid to ask your folks outright. Steer the conversation in the right direction by emphasizing how much you want to see them. Say: "I want to include you as I sort out [the expense of plane tickets, taking time off of work, whose family gets us for which holidays]. Although I'm sad I can't travel twice, do you feel more strongly about having me home for Thanksgiving or for Christmas?" Your family should appreciate that you're including them in the decision and that you're thinking far ahead.
  2. Talk About Who Will Pay. — If you're traveling with a significant other and you two don't share expenses, Farnoosh recommends booking the flight together but paying separately. It puts inordinate strain and guilt on one person if he has to pay for both plane tickets simply because his family lives farther. It's not his fault that his folks are from Montana! Some parents will offer to pay for their kids' plane tickets since it spares them the expense and hassle of traveling, but don't ask unless your parents offer. If they do, make sure to consider all strings attached before accepting their generous proposition.

Keep reading for the rest of the tips.

  1. Calculate The Cost, In Money And Time. — How many vacation days do you have? Consider not only how much plane tickets will cost, but also how much time you'll need. Will it be worthwhile to travel from Boston to San Francisco if you're only going to stay for Thanksgiving weekend? If not, maybe Christmas is a better bet. Search online right now for tickets in order to compare costs and figure out what makes the most sense for your timeframe and budget.
  2. Be Flexible. — Farnoosh says, "No need to establish life-long holiday traditions this year. If you can't see your parents for Thanksgiving this year, vow to make it work out next year or visit during another time of year, like in the spring when flights are cheaper."
  3. Sit Down And Buy Those Tickets—ASAP. — Of course, you probably know by now the value of buying plane tickets early: A roundtrip Thanksgiving flight from, say, New York to Miami costs around $375 if you buy it now; if you wait until the last minute, that same flight can easily cost over $500.

For more smart tips from Learnvest, check out:

What Would You Endure For Cheap Plane Tickets?
Bad Financial Habits to Drop By 30
The 3 Ps: Three Influences On Your Money Decisions

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