Fall wreath with apples and pine cones
December 7, 2018

Smart Ways to Make That Long Journey Home for the Holidays

There are two types of festive homecomings, according to the movies. One is the romantic, snow-dusted drive that ends with family hugs and a warm fuzzy feeling. The other is the endless journey that goes from one disaster to the next.

The truth is usually somewhere in between (though hopefully a little closer to the first). Still, traveling home for the holidays—whether you work on the opposite side of the country or are away at college—can be a logistical nightmare, not to mention expensive.

Getting home for the holidays shouldn’t be stressful—or expensive.

Join a carpool

This may not apply if you’re traveling the length or breadth of the country. Unless you’re up for an epic road trip, that is. If you are within reasonable driving distance of your festive destination, carpooling is a cheaper and more environmentally friendly alternative to going solo. There may be some of your friends (or friends of friends) taking the same journey or traveling close by your home and when you get to your end destination, there’ll be none of that lugging luggage down snowy sidewalks.

Team up with friends, classmates or colleagues—or use a carpool app for a cheaper and more eco-friendly drive home.

Get social

Another way to find folks who are going your way is to post on Facebook. You could also post a query in college, work or neighborhood Facebook groups to find potential travel companions. You can select your driving crew based on their profiles and ratings. Then simply book a nearby Zipcar and not only can you entertain each other along the way, you can divide the cost of the reservation between you. Plus, if any of them are Zipcar members too you can even split the driving. Now that’s super car-sharing!

Trains and buses can mean longer journeys—but think of all the binge-watching you could do (and all the money you could save).

Plan ahead

On-the-road travel can be seriously unhealthy, and no one wants to live off a diet of truck-stop burgers, expensive processed package food and watery coffee. Plan ahead and pack some fruit, nuts, and if you’re going to be doing the driving, some pumpkin seeds or dark chocolate to keep you alert along the way.

Put a playlist together ahead of time, maybe that album you’ve been meaning to listen to on Spotify or a new podcast series, and cue them up so that you have hours of entertainment as you zip along the freeway.

Keep track of flight sales or use up any air miles to offset the cost of holiday travel.

Search for sales

If you absolutely have to share your space with lots of other people, then hopefully you’re one of those super-organized people who book their Christmas plane/train/bus tickets in the January sales. No? Us neither. Luckily, there are still bargains to be had if you know where to look. If you can afford to take the extra time off, consider booking tickets outside of the most popular times, which is usually a day or two either side of the national holidays. Failing that, head to sites like RewardExpert, who will crunch the numbers, work out the deals and get you across the country just using your daily spends, opening offer and credit card rewards.

Discount deals

These days our wallets are stuffed with memberships from student and military cards to AARP and loyalty cards, and each of them come with a host of member discounts and offers. Be sure to check and see if there are any ‘quick win’ discounts for your direction of travel.

Car-sharing apps like Zipcar can be used for longer journeys, too..

Stay mobile

It isn’t always the cost of a flight home; sometimes it’s the distance and expense involved in getting to the airport. Or the bus depot. Or the train station. Zipsters can make use of their membership to inexpensively and efficiently get where they need to be and start their journeys off right. The time saved picking up a nearby Zipcar is often worth it. Plus with the Zipcar app members can lock and unlock the doors, honk the horn to find where you parked and easily extend your reservation. How’s that for traveling in holiday style?!