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7 Easy Ways To Save Money On Holiday Season Travel

7 Easy Ways To Save Money On Holiday Season Travel

You’ve picked out the gifts. You’ve decorated the house. You’ve selected a tree. Now, you have to figure out how to pay for those pricey visits to friends and family this holiday season. With gas prices sky-high and flights that aren’t much better, it’s difficult to find ways to travel on a budget no matter how much traveling broadens your horizons. However, by implementing the seven tips below, you can definitely save hundreds of dollars during the upcoming holiday months and even enjoy yourself in the process.

Stay With Family

It seems like a simple way to save money, but sometimes staying with family is more complicated than it seems. First, you don’t want to infringe on anyone’s privacy and secondly, there might be other relatives vying for the same space. To avoid the confusion and any awkward moments, be sure to talk to your family members way ahead of time to see how long they would be comfortable with you staying. Offer to make them a nice meal or take them out to dinner. Trust me, they will greatly appreciate the gesture and you will still save a significant amount of money since a meal out costs much less than 5 nights in a hotel room.

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Do Research On Airline Fees

If you are traveling by plane, be sure to do your research ahead of time. It seems that many airlines change their policies on how much free luggage you are allowed at the drop of a hat. These fees can sometimes be so high, you could have upgraded to first class for less! Avoiding these fees often means less luggage, which means you might have to ship gifts ahead of time. This tip will also help you to keep stress levels down in the airport since won’t be getting any unexpected financial “surprises.”

Bum A Ride

Taking a taxi to the airport or leaving your car parked there for a few days are both expensive ventures. Instead, ask a friend to drop you off and pick you up at the airport. You can always return the favor to them the next time they take their family to the beach or go on a business trip. It’s an easy way to save a few hundred dollars. Plus, you know your car is safely at home and won’t get bumped in the tight airport parking lot!

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Research Alternative Methods of Travel

Depending on where you live, it can be much less expensive and much more fun to travel by train. Your kids will love it, and you can enjoy the scenery as you go. Of course, this won’t work for everyone but it’s always worth it to research it and find out. If you’re a stickler for time management when you travel and making the most of the journey, this might actually work out the best for you. You’ll have built in quality time with your family and won’t waste precious hours waiting in long security lines at the airport.

Plan Your Meals

When most of us travel, we should expect the inevitable delays. Weather problems, technical difficulties on planes, and traffic jams are all common occurrences during the holiday months. So, keeping that in mind, it would be best to always pack a snack like popcorn or pretzels to keep with you at all times. This way, you won’t be tempted to run to the nearest fast food restaurant or convenience store to spend money needlessly, which keeps your wallet and your body healthy all at the same time.

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Be Flexible

Many of the best holiday travel deals come when you are flexible with your schedule. This may include taking red eye flights or having long layovers. This also might include staying in a two or three star hotel instead of a four or five star one, especially if you are just staying one night. Many people find that traveling on the actual holiday, like Christmas Day, gives them much cheaper tickets than flying the day before or after. So, definitely keep your schedule open, and you’ll reap the rewards. A good free tool to use to search prices is Google’s matrix airfare search (Note: You can’t buy tickets using this tool but it will find the prices and availability and give you the codes that booking agents need to buy the ticket for you)

Use Social Media

Many people think that the only way to get a good deal on hotels or travel is to plan ahead and use travel websites for the best rates. This works well most of the time, but remember that the holidays are often plagued with extra expenses. Be sure to tweet your hotel or Facebook them ahead of time to let them know you are excited about coming. You never know when they’ll comp you a free breakfast or upgrade your room for being involved and spreading the word about their company.

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I know that many other people also have great tips on saving big bucks on holiday travel, so please leave all of your best suggestions in the comment section below.

Featured photo credit:  Pretty young woman hitchhiking along a road via Shutterstock

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Catherine Alford

Catherine is the go to personal finance expert for educated, aspirational moms who want to recapture their life passions.

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Last Updated on July 4, 2019

25 Killer Sites For Free Online Education

25 Killer Sites For Free Online Education

Whether you’re five or ninety five, the internet has a lot to offer. Particularly when the topic is education, the resources on the internet are endless.

Best of all, many high quality sites are completely free. From history to coding, excellent free online education awaits on the following 25 sites.

1. Coursera

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    Coursera is a website that partners with universities and organizations around the world. This brings a wide variety of topics and perspectives to one searchable database.

    Coursera is a powerful tool for free online education, and includes courses from many top universities, museums and trusts. This gives the site an extremely wide range of in-depth courses.

    Coursera is extremely useful if you’re looking to study many different topics, or want courses from different schools and groups.

    2. Khan Academy

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      Partnering with many post secondary schools, Khan Academy offers a useable, well organized interface. Also curating many courses from around the web, Khan Academy offers impressive depth on many different subjects.

      Among the more well known educational sites, Khan Academy is also incredibly useable, which may make it easier to keep learning goals.

      3. Open Culture Online Courses

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        If you are struggling to find exactly the material you are looking for, try Open Culture’s listing of free online education courses. The page highlights 1000 lectures, videos and podcasts from universities around the world. The site features a lot of material found only on universities private sites, all in easy to browse categories. This means you can find hundreds of university courses, without having to visit and search each university’s own site.

        Open Culture’s list features courses from England, Australia, Wales and many state universities around the United States. A very helpful resource for finding many courses in one area of study.

        4. Udemy 

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          Udemy’s free courses are similar in concept to Coursera’s but additionally allows users to build custom courses from lessons.

          Working with many top professors and schools, the site mixes the customizable platform of other sites with a heavy emphasis on top quality content. This is another site however, that mixes free and paid content.

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          5. Academic Earth

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            Another site with courses from many different schools is Academic Earth. Much like the three sites above, Academic Earth brings together top notch courses from many different sources, and focuses on offering a wide variety of subjects.

            Academic Earth lists courses by subject and school, so it might be easier to find what you’re looking for.

            6. edX

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              Another great option for free online education is edX. Also bringing together courses from many different schools, the site has impressive, quality information for everyone. edX covers a great range of topics.

              7. Alison

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                Unlike the previous sites on this lists, Alison is a free education site offering certification in some areas. Alison offers courses mainly in business, technology, and health, but also includes language learning courses.

                It’s a great option if users need certification for their learning as Alison also offers school curriculum courses.

                8. iTunesU Free Courses

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                  A very convenient place for free online education is iTunesU, because it integrates seamlessly with your iPod, or any app-ready Apple mobile device. On iPad, iPhone, or iPod touch, users download the iTunesU app.

                  Desktop users can access  iTunesU on the upper right hand corner of the iTunes Store. iTunesU is also convenient because the store is categorized much like iTunes.

                  Users can search learning materials in many different ways, including genre and topic. However, courses are often a mix of free podcasts or videos, and paid content.

                  ITunesU does include courses on a pretty wide scope of topics, but does not integrate with Android, Google or Windows mobile devices.

                  9. Stanford Online

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                    Your hub for all the online offerings from Stanford University, Stanford Online offers self-paced and session based courses. While Coursera features some courses from Stanford, many classes are only available via other hosts. Some courses require iTunes, but most are completed in your web browser.

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                    Stanford Online is a great site for high quality courses, though the topics are somewhat limited compared to sites partnered with more than one school.

                    10. Harvard Extension

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                      Like Stanford Online, Harvard Extension features free online education courses from Harvard only. This is another excellent source for top notch course material, though the course variety is less rich than multi-school sites.

                      Additionally, Harvard Extension allows you to search for courses by professional certificate. This makes it much easier if your online education goal includes certification.

                      11. Open Yale Courses

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                        Open Yale Courses echoes Harvard Extension and Stanford Online, in that it offers only courses from Yale. While the site is similarly limited to topics taught at the school, Open Yale Courses offers a lot of videos of actual campus lectures. The availability of videos makes the site a great option if you’re looking for quality courses, but learn better by watching than by reading.

                        12. UC Berkeley Class Central

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                          Much like the other schools on this list, UC Berkeley has a variety of free online education options. The school has slightly fewer courses than the schools above, but includes some supplementary lectures, webcasts and RSS Feeds, making it easy to keep up with the topics you choose.

                          13. MIT OpenCourseWare

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                            Similarly, MIT offers a variety of free courses. The school has a comparable number of courses to the schools above, plus includes very in-depth course materials on the subjects available. MIT also offers free RSS feeds, a convenient way to continue learning.

                            14. Carnegie Mellon Open Learning Initiative

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                              Carnegie Mellon’s free online education site is comparable with the other school’s on this list, however, Open Learning Initiative also covers a smaller range of topics. But for the topics that are covered impressive, in-depth material is available.

                              15. Codecademy

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                                Codecademy is a website dedicated specifically to teaching coding. Where other coding sites follow an example/practice session workflow, Codecademy includes a live practice window. This means you can practice coding while still viewing the lesson material.

                                The courses at Codecademy are well written and easy to follow and the website is organized very nicely. Codecademy features a centralized dashboard where you can monitor your progress, plus organizes lessons into complete modules. This lets you learn an entire language without needing to pick the next course manually.

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                                16. Code

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                                  Code is another website focused on coding and app writing. A site with high quality courses, Code also features learning options for kids.

                                  In addition to kid friendly courses, Code offers free online education classes on a wide variety of technology topics. These classes include app writing, robotics and Javascript.

                                  Most of the courses are also geared in a such a way that they can be useful in a classroom setting. This makes Code a great resource for harder to find coding topics, as well as various learning settings.

                                  17. University of London Podcasts

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                                    The podcast page on the University of London website is another great source for free education. While the courses are limited to podcasts, the site features podcasts from it’s own campus, as well as eleven universities in and around London. This gives learners a wide base of topics and lectures, but still ensures in-depth material.

                                    18. University of Oxford Podcasts

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                                      Similar to the University of London, the University of Oxford features many different podcasts. Most are public lecture series or lectures from visiting professors, with several different recordings available.

                                      The advantage to this particular site is that podcasts are organized into series, making it easy to subscribe to multiple lectures on one topic. Another good site for thoroughly in-depth lectures.

                                      19. BBC Podcasts

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                                        For the more casual learner, the BBC offers a wide variety of podcasts on many different topics. Most podcasts are updated weekly, and focus on everything from finance, to sports, to current events.

                                        Through the World Service line of podcasts, there are also many in different languages. The focus of these podcasts are less in-depth and theory based, which may be more accessible to the average person.

                                        20. TED-Ed

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                                          Another great destination for more general learning is TED-Ed. From the same people that brought you the all encompassing, motivational web series, comes a site chocked full of educational videos. Most include impressive animation, and all are ten minutes long or less.

                                          Not only is TED-Ed an excellent site for the curious, it also includes supplemental materials and quizzes on the videos. This makes the site extremely useful in formal education settings, as well as in entertaining ways to brush up on new discoveries and topics.

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                                          21. LessonPaths

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                                            LessonPaths is another great tool for those looking for a more usable and convenient way to access learning material. On this site, users create link playlists of their favorite learning materials from other sites. Users then rank these collections, making it easy to find many different high quality, accessible sources on a given topic.

                                            22. Memrise

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                                              Another impressive free online education site offering ease of use and convenience is Memrise. Available both on desktop and as an app, Memrise is a particularly powerful tool if you are studying a language. The site encompasses many other topics as well, though some of the course material is user generated content.

                                              Part of what makes Memrise special is their integration of games into the learning materials, mixing learning with entertainment.

                                              23. National Geographic Kids

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                                                The kids site for National Geographic is another site that makes free online education applicable for younger users. For those looking for kid friendly education, a large variety of games, puzzles, videos and photos keeps kids interested on this site.

                                                National Geographic Kids doesn’t organize learning into courses, making materials available by topic and medium instead. This makes National Geographic Kids a good option for those looking for a more casual learning environment.

                                                24. Fun Brain

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                                                  Fun Brain is another good option for kids who want to learn online, but focuses on games and fun puzzles. Particularly focused on math and reading, Fun Brain’s game based approach can be valuable if the child in question struggles to pay attention.

                                                  Fun Brain offers rewards and challenges as well, and is another site aimed at a casual learning experience for kids K-8.

                                                  25. Whyville

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                                                    Similar to the sites for kids free online education is Whyville a destination for preteen online learning. The site includes a variety of social features, with a focus on learning materials geared for young teens.

                                                    Whyville also mixes in educational games, to make the site a well rounded option for kids too old for simple games, but too young for heavy reading based material.

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                                                    Featured photo credit: Dai KE via unsplash.com

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