The holidays are a time to indulge, whether you’re staying home or traveling. But as the final stretch of the season races toward us, the stress and chaos can engulf the anticipatory joy with to-do lists as long as Santa’s that range from prepping for guests and last-minute shopping to booking holiday travel.
The season is undoubtedly hectic, but there are hacks to make it less so.
Winnie Sun — a well-known financial advisor, TV contributor and mom of three — is not only an expert in managing money but also managing the valuable resource of time. And with 2019 holiday spending projected to rise 4% from last year and the season feeling so rushed, it’s more important than ever to manage finances and time wisely to make room for true indulgence.
Below are five of Winnie’s favorite tips for the final holiday push — from travel perks to gift ideas — to ensure a holiday that won’t break the bank or bring burnout.
- Don’t underestimate the value of travel perks. Whether you’re an early-bird or last-minute travel booker, take advantage of related perks when you book and once you arrive. There are multiple ways to cash in on travel deals, but one of the easiest is to sign up for loyalty programs, such as the free-to-join Hilton Honors program linked to thousands of hotels and cool experiences around the world. The program’s members can take advantage of perks like room discounts, free Wi-Fi and breakfast, and Points for hotel stays. And remember that booking direct gets you the best rate at a portfolio of 17 brands that offer something for everyone in your group.
Another great tip for getting the best value out of your perks is to be on the lookout for travel co-partnerships. Many travel brands – hotels, airlines, car services and rental companies – will award you points for sticking with their partners. For example, Hilton Honors members can earn Points when they take a Lyft. Do your research on these types of partnerships so you can maximize travel points during the holidays and on your next vacation.
- Leave the cooking and entertaining to someone else. To alleviate some stress, save time and possibly even save money, consider a nearby hotel to host your main holiday brunch or dinner — or drop by with your group for a more informal meal or drink instead of spending time at home preparing it. Remember that time with loved ones is a worthy investment. And in fact, choosing to eat at a Hilton hotel will support the company’s Travel with Purpose commitment to reduce food waste by 50% by 2030. For entertaining at any age, check nearby hotels for festive holiday décor and programming, such as the Teddy Bear Tea at The Roosevelt New Orleans, A Waldorf Astoria Hotel or Skating by the Sea at Hotel del Coronado, Curio Collection by Hilton in San Diego.
- Give the gift of experience. For many of us, finding the perfect gift can cause a holiday headache in terms of time and money — especially for last-minute shoppers who may sink hours into finding a gift or overspend when buying on an impulse. Recent research has shown that many people prefer experiences over receiving material gifts, so consider a gift certificate to a hotel or restaurant or gifting your loyalty program points to family or friends who’d enjoy redeeming them for their own travel. Hilton offers a variety of experiential gifts that don’t require a time-consuming trip to the mall, such as a homemade pasta workshop in Venice or a ski adventure in the Swiss Alps — all bookable with a Hilton Gift Card or with your Hilton Honors Points.
- Map out the destination before you leave home. To alleviate added holiday stress, research your destination before you arrive. Make a list of the excursions and restaurants you want to try, check for special holiday hours and make reservations and purchase tickets in advance. You can also connect with your hotel’s concierge in advance for help and recommendations to make your trip extra special. For example, one hotel surprised Winnie’s family by leaving milk and cookies for her son’s birthday in the hotel room – making their stay feel that much more welcoming and enjoyable.
- Plan beyond the holidays and start thinking about your next trip now. Many people get stressed over planning last-minute travel, so why not start super early and lock in prices for next year? A family gathering is the perfect time to plan the next big trip for 2020. Spark a fun table chat about a spring break or Memorial Day reunion. Often, after all of the build up to the holiday fun, we face the gloomy days of winter, so it’s nice to have something like a fun trip already on the calendar to look forward to! To save money, you can use some of those Hilton Honors Points you’ve accumulated to offset the cost of your travel and buy cool experiences as part of your trip.