6 Things to Avoid During Holiday Travel


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More than half of holiday travelers hope to stick to a budget this year, according to a recent American Express survey. Between transportation, dining, and entertainment, though, it's easy to overspend. While unforeseen expenses may be inevitable, a few simple money-saving tactics can ease the pain. Take a pass on these six things and keep some green in your pocket this holiday season.


Having constant access to the Internet may seem necessary, but there's no reason to pay $19.95 per day for the privilege. To avoid pricey Wi-Fi charges, download a free Wi-Fi finder app that searches for hotspots nearby. Some hotels offer a free connection in the lobby, so a quick stroll to the reception area can save you money.


Even without valet service, parking is one way to squander cash during holiday travel; figure on at least $20 per night added to your final hotel bill. Save by parking your vehicle in a location unaffiliated with the hotel or on the street (make sure there are no meters and it's safe to leave the car for long periods). You might have to walk a couple of blocks or make multiple trips to and fro, but you'll get in a bit of a workout and experience the street life in the city you're visiting.


Hotel gift shops lure travelers with cute trinkets and souvenirs, as well as necessary items that tend to be forgotten, such as umbrellas, hats, and grooming supplies. And it's always a good idea to bring a token for the holiday host. Well, the gift shop is right there. But beware: The markup on this merchandise is usually very high. Instead, head for a nearby store and buy any forgotten items at a much cheaper price.


Breakfast in bed sounds tempting, but hotels charge an extra fee to deliver the food to your door. According to Priceonomics, the average price of a club sandwich courtesy of room service in a New York City hotel is $21.75. A 12-inch club sandwich from Subway costs less than half that. To really save money, forgo even the fast-casual restaurants and cozy cafes in favor of a vacation rental or a hotel that provides for self-catering.


Traveling light can be tough if you come bearing gifts and plan to stay a while, but it can save you big bucks. Airlines have imposed strict carry-on limits and onerous baggage fees. Although there are ways to avoid these fees, checking just one piece of luggage can cost $25 or more; several budget airlines even charge for carry-ons. One packing tip: Wear the bulkiest items while traveling to the airport and stow them overhead after boarding.


A parking deck may appear to be the best option near a museum or concert hall or wherever you're scheduled to be. Garages are easy to access and found on many a big-city corner, but they charge hefty hourly rates for that convenience. Instead of paying $5, $10, or more for each hour of parking, locate free or cheap parking through an app or website such as BestParking, which lets drivers compare prices for public parking. Parking apps can help by identifying available spots and locating the car when it's time to leave; some also facilitate automatic payments. Even a taxi may be cheaper than a parking deck.