Dec 13 2007

Christmas travel

Can you believe Christmas is almost here? I can’t. This year flew by.

I’m curious–what are your travel plans? Are you having Christmas at home this year? Traveling (how far) to see family? Flying? Driving? What’s your story?

What are you doing to keep your travel costs low?

My husband and I will drive from Pittsburgh back home to Indiana some time next week. When we made the trip for Thanksgiving, we put about 1,000 miles on the car. Ug. This time, I think it will be more like 800, with less back-and-forth driving in Indiana.

There’s not much you can do about gas prices, but I’ve found that if we stop in a larger town or city to refuel, we drive about a mile or so into town to look for a gas station. Gas can be ten cents or more cheaper away from the interstate.

In previous trips, we’ve traveled through the night. Traffic seems to be a little lighter in the major cities, but in places there’s an awful lot of semis. I don’t know if we’ll travel through the night this time, since it doesn’t seem to be necessary.

Plus, if we have car trouble, it seems I’d rather break down during the daytime, ya know?

I’m going to be registering my car in Pennsylvania this week, and I’m going to join AAA when I do so. It’ll be an extra $15 or so on top of the registration fees (normally, it’s like $47 for the year). It’ll be nice to have that extra bit of peace of mind if the car needs a tow or whatever.

Oh, another thing we’ll do to keep expenses down–we’re staying with our families! No hotel rooms for us. I’ll do laundry at my mom’s house (or his mom’s) so we won’t have to do it when we get back. They don’t mind, and I guess it’s just something I’ll do until I live in a place with it’s own washer/dryer.



7 Responses to “Christmas travel”

  1. Most of our family lives within 45 minutes of where we live, so holidays don’t involve too much travel- but when we’re driving round-trip 45 minutes, 3 days in a row, it can add up. Our solution? Sunday and Christmas day, our family is coming to US. (Christmas Eve, we’re going to them) That means we’ll have 13 people in the house Sunday and 8 on Christmas, but cuts down on the travel for us, making the whole holiday less stressful (for me, anyway. I’d rather cook for 13 than be running around and away from home!)

    BTW, where in Indiana will you be? I’m in the Indy area.

  2. I wanted to share a gas saving tip I just discovered .. if you goto a Walmart gas station you can save $.03 a gallon if you use a Walmart credit card OR Walmart gift card!! So if you buy a gift card then purchase your gas with the card you’ll save a bit! Plus in our area Walmart is usually the cheapest for gas .. it’s literally the only thing I go to Walmart for anymore!

  3. We are traveling to see family…which means $$ for gas, but we won’t spend money on food while we are there!!! No one expects us to bring anything to family dinners during the week (except our daughter’s allergen free stuff) since we are traveling, so that is nice.

    We stay with family, make sure the car’s running well and the tires are full to get the best mileage, and we pack snacks for the car so that we don’t have to buy food on the road. And we always buy gas in Indiana vs. Illinois–it’s always cheaper!

  4. I’ve always done lots and lots of traveling since it seems that I have never lived near family. :-) This week, we had to drive 8 hours for my brother’s wedding. We left at 2am and it was really really nice driving at night, due to less traffic. I think you probably save on gas in the long run because you’re not speeding up or slowing down as much. Of course, it messes up your sleep schedule so I don’t think it’s always that worth it. When finding a gas station, I always stop at an exit that has multiple gas stations, since I find the competition usually leads to better prices. I also have made that drive so often that I know which exits tend to be the best for gas. For example, I’ve found that just south of Atlanta has better gas prices than the city itself.

    Another thing I do is try not to travel during high-traffic times. I’ve never gone home for Thanksgiving, because most people travel that Wednesday and Sunday, which leads to higher gas prices, more traffic, and more cops on the road. It’s just not worth it to me. That is also true for weekends like Memorial Day and Labor Day.

    I don’t know what your options are, but my experience with AAA is that they are REALLY slow at answering your calls. They take on average 3 or 4 hours from the time you call to the time they get there. Of course, they may be the cheapest, but it wouldn’t hurt to check around. I have roadside assistance through my car insurance company. I know you can also get it through some cell phones.

  5. I’ve also never found AAA to be worth the annual fees. We haven’t broken down for a while, but in the past, we were able to rely on family and friends to help us. However, we don’t do a lot of long distance driving anymore, so maybe that would change my mind.

  6. Ug, some of you have to drive a long ways!

    I think I will go ahead and get the AAA membership this year, since it will be at a greatly reduced rate. Maybe we’ll be able to use it for discounts this year, as well.

    We don’t live near family, and of the few friends I have in Pittsburgh, I wouldn’t want to call them if I needed a jump start or whatever.

  7. I’ll be doing a lot of traveling this year. I’ve never traveled more than an hour or two for the holidays before, and I’ve never flown at the holidays. We bought our tickets in July, when they first went on sale, for a little more than $700 each, roundtrip. Everyone tells us we got a great deal, and I like that we didn’t have to think about price comparing when the holidays were beginning to pick up, hoping for a last minute sale.
    Once we get there, neither of us will have cars (mine was sold, his sister now drives his), so we may have to rely on parents/siblings/friends for rides, but we won’t have to add miles to our car or put in gas, unless we borrow one. But we want to see those people, anyway, so that’s more time together if we carpool (and better for the environment!). And then we have four Christmas celebrations to attend between the two of us, in three different locations, over the course of a week. At least they’re all in the same state! The traveling will be an adventure in itself, not to mention trying to see everyone we can in less than two weeks’ time. We’ll be driving all over the place, but hopefully it will be as economical as possible.

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Hey! I'm Kacie, wife to Shane and mother to Jonathan (7), Vivienne (5) and Amelia (2) . I write about my family's finance: how we save money, improve our spending, and plan for the future.

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