How to Avoid Blowing Your Thanksgiving Travel Budget


If you count yourself among the tens of millions of people traveling for the Thanksgiving holiday, you’re going to want to make sure you save enough for the trip. Shopping around for car insurance quotes, selling your unwanted stuff, and eating at home more frequently will put more money in your holiday travel budget.

Know When to Purchase Tickets

If you’re flying this Thanksgiving, your first impulse might be to buy airline tickets immediately. However, the best time to buy tickets for the end of November holiday is actually the first week in November. After that, expect a big jump in prices.

Subscribe to travel newsletters so you can stay alerted as to the best available prices and be ready to jump on great savings when you see them.

Take Everything into Account

Your travel budget includes ticket prices, lodging, car rental fees, etc. While those are the ‘big ticket items’ you don’t want to forget about the other smaller fees you’ll encounter. Things like coffee and snacks, tolls, ATM fees, souvenirs, hotel laundry service, etc.

It’s a good idea to figure $25-$50 extra into your travel budget to figure in all of these little extra fees you’ll run into.

Clear Out Your House

Garage sale season might be coming to an end but that doesn’t mean you can’t sell your unwanted items online. There are a number of platforms – like Facebook Marketplace – where you can list items, get some cash, and put it toward your Thanksgiving budget as a cushion. Added bonus, you’ll come home from your trip to a less cluttered home!

Spend Less on Halloween

Every year, Halloween gains in popularity not just with children but adults, too. Americans spend an estimated $10 billion on Halloween for decorations, candy, cards, and costumes. If you’re planning on traveling for Thanksgiving, drag out all of your Halloween decorations from the years before and resist the urge to purchase more. Dollar stores have inexpensive candy to put out in inexpensive plastic Halloween bowls (which let’s face it, you likely already have two of).

Find Inexpensive Entertainment

Life doesn’t come to a standstill just because you’re planning a vacation. Your family still wants to have fun and participate in activities. You might be surprised at all of the free and close to free entertainment that is going on around you in your city. Look for autumn parades, apple picking, haunted hay rides, cider runs, sunflower strolls, etc.

Buy Travel Insurance

You might think you can do without it, after all, nobody expects to run into issues while they are on vacation or visiting family. However, accidents and unexpected things happen all the time. Find travel insurance that will cover medical treatments, missed flights, trip cancellations, lost luggage, etc. It will be far less expensive for the insurance than it will be if something goes wrong. Check your credit cards to see if they offer travel insurance before looking elsewhere.

Drive at Night

If you’ve chosen to drive to your Thanksgiving destination instead of fly, consider driving at night. You’ll run into much less (if any) traffic, you’ll get there faster, and the kids can sleep (and will be quiet) while you drive. Be sure to catch up on sleep so you are prepared, and keep the coffee and water close at hand for caffeination and hydration. If you’re headed back home directly after Thanksgiving dinner, get a nap beforehand.

Think About Gifts

With the big gift-giving holidays right around the corner from Thanksgiving, you might be thinking about purchasing souvenirs as gifts for special people on your list. Sit down and make a list of who you want to buy for and assign a dollar amount to them. Add up the total dollar amount to see if it fits within your budget. If it doesn’t, adjust the dollar amount for each or limit the people on the list.

Improve Your Fuel Economy

Gas prices are finally coming down but they are still pretty expensive. Before heading out on your trip consider the following to improve your fuel economy:

  • Check the air pressure in the tires and take the tire gauge with you to periodically check along the way. Know what psi your tires should be and keep them inflated to that number as closely as possible.
  • Install a gas app on your phone. GasBuddy will find you the least expensive gas stations in your area so you can fill up for less.
  • Avoid accelerating and braking quickly, it uses more gas than when you remain steady and smooth.
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Keep Thanksgiving a fun, family time by trimming costs beforehand and figuring out how to save while on your trip.


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