It’s fun to travel for the holidays, whether that’s to visit family or go on a vacation somewhere warm. It’s usually not cheap, though. Because so many people have time off and want to travel around this time of year, prices go way up. And since the holidays are now just weeks away, it’s harder to find deals.

That doesn’t mean your holiday travel needs to cost you an arm and a leg. When you know all the methods seasoned travelers use to cut their costs, you could save hundreds on your trip.

1. Book with points instead of cash

If you’ve been using travel credit cards, now is the time to put those travel points to use. Using points is one of the best ways to save on the biggest travel costs. You could use miles to book an airline ticket and only need to pay the taxes and fees. If you have the points for a hotel stay, you may not need to pay a cent for it.

Check how many travel points you have and how you can use them. Some credit cards have transferable points that you can use with a variety of airlines and hotels. Other cards let you redeem your points at a set rate, such as $0.01 per point, for any sort of travel purchase. And there are also cards that give you both of those options.

2. Use Google to contrast flight and hotel prices

When I book travel, Google is often my first stop. It pulls prices directly from airline and hotel websites, as well as online travel agencies. This makes it easy to contrast prices and find the cheapest place to book.

You don’t need to check if a hotel is cheaper on Expedia,, or the hotel’s own website. With Google’s hotel seek, you’ll see exactly how much each platform is charging for a room.

3. Be flexible about when you fly

Flight prices can vary quite a bit. Sometimes just flying out one day earlier or later could save you hundreds of dollars. The same is true if you’re booking with miles — tickets may cost half as many miles on one day as they do on the next.

Check prices on different dates when planning your holiday travel. Many airlines have low-fare calendars you can use to do this. If possible, try to build your trip around the most affordable travel dates.

It also helps if you’re open to early morning and red-eye flights, as prices tend to be lower for these. Early morning is even the best time to fly, as it reduces your likelihood of experiencing delays or cancellations.

Before you book anything, make sure to check if there could be any extra fees you’ll need to pay. Budget airlines are known for this. They lure you in with airfare for under $50, and then you find out that pretty much everything outside of a boarding pass costs extra. Taking a carry-on that doesn’t fit under your seat? That’ll be an extra $30, $40, or more, depending on whether you pay for it online or at the airport. Want to pick your seat location ahead of time? That could cost you $15 or more.

It’s important to account for fees so you know what’s really the most affordable option. And by knowing about potential fees, you could also figure out ways to avoid them. For example, most airlines charge a fee for checked bags. To avoid that, you can travel light, or get an airline credit card that includes free checked baggage.

5. Bring your own snacks, or visit an airport lounge

Grabbing a bite to eat while you travel is notoriously expensive, especially for families. Airport meal prices can be double what you’d pay anywhere else.

Stock up on snacks before you travel so you don’t need to spend $30 to $50 on a meal at the airport. Keep in mind that you don’t need to pay for water at the airport, either. If you bring a reusable water bottle with you, you can fill it up once you’re past the security checkpoint.

Airport lounges are another good way to save on food when you travel. Access rules vary, but there are normally lounges available to passengers flying in business class or first class. There are also lots of credit cards with airport lounge access. If you’re a frequent flyer, one of those cards could be worth getting.

It’s still possible to travel this holiday season for a reasonable cost. Try putting those tips into action, and you should be able to go where you want without too much of an impact on your finances.

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