The holidays are typically a popular time of the year to travel. And this season is shaping up to be no exception.

A good 84% of Americans plan to travel for the holidays this year, says the New York Post. But if you're expecting to visit family or friends this December, you may be in for quite the hefty credit card tab -- unless, of course, you make these strategic moves.

1. Fly at off-peak times

Christmas falls on a Monday this year, which means a lot of people will no doubt be looking to head to their destinations on Friday, Dec. 22 and return on Tuesday, Dec. 26. If you have similar plans, you could end up spending a small fortune. So instead, try to be flexible -- especially if your job is remote and you can therefore do it from anywhere with an internet connection.

One thing you may want to do if you're traveling for Christmas is fly out as early as Dec. 19 or 20 if you can swing it. And then, rather than return on the 26th, go home on the 27th.

Even if you don't work remotely, a lot of companies see a slowdown the week between Christmas and New Year's. Your boss might agree to let you log on from another location that week, which gives you more flexibility for flying home.

Of course, this strategy assumes you're staying with family or friends and aren't paying for lodging. If you are, then what you save on a flight, you might spend on a hotel room -- so keep that in mind.

2. Book with the right credit card

Flying can be an expensive endeavor during the holidays. But if you use the right credit card, you can potentially save money on some of the peripheral costs you might encounter -- things like checked baggage fees and in-flight purchases.

Many travel reward credit cards give you a free checked bag per flight and discounts on food you buy while in the air. Your credit card might also give you access to an airport lounge so you can fuel up before your flight and avoid having to purchase food during it.

3. Hitch a ride instead of flying or driving yourself

Driving can be more affordable than flying. But that's not necessarily the case if you're traveling solo. When you consider the cost of gas and your time, you may find that it's just as expensive to drive several hundred miles as it is to fly. That's why you may want to consider booking a ride to your destination instead.

Services like Hitch, for example, allow you to book a ride in another driver's vehicle and pay your share. It makes sense to compare the cost there to the cost of driving alone, especially if you'll have access to a vehicle at your destination (say, if you're visiting your parents and can use one of their cars during your stay).

While getting in a car with a stranger might seem unsettling, rest assured that Hitch screens its drivers carefully. You might actually end up making some new friends during your journey.

Holiday travel doesn't automatically have to break the bank. Use these tips to lower your costs so you can spend time with the people you love with less stress.

Alert: highest cash back card we've seen now has 0% intro APR until 2025

If you're using the wrong credit or debit card, it could be costing you serious money. Our experts love this top pick, which features a 0% intro APR for 15 months, an insane cash back rate of up to 5%, and all somehow for no annual fee. 

In fact, this card is so good that our experts even use it personally. Click here to read our full review for free and apply in just 2 minutes. 

Read our free review

We're firm believers in the Golden Rule, which is why editorial opinions are ours alone and have not been previously reviewed, approved, or endorsed by included advertisers. The Ascent does not cover all offers on the market. Editorial content from The Ascent is separate from The Motley Fool editorial content and is created by a different analyst team.The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.

2023-11-28T18:05:42Z dg43tfdfdgfd