Yikes! The winter holidays will be upon us before you know it.
The holiday season can be stressful for a litany of reasons, too. Deciding which gifts to buy, what to cook for holiday dinners and perhaps the most frustrating of all — travel.
You may be visiting family across the country or hopping a couple of states to pop over for a surprise Christmas visit. Whatever the case may be, you’re probably going to be booking a flight. But whatever you do, as annoying as booking travel for the holidays may be, don’t wait until the last moment to do so. You could be looking at an extremely pricey endeavor.
Just because the snow hasn’t quite started falling, that doesn’t mean you should sit around and wait for the “right” time to act. Here are some ways you can save for the holiday season and beat the inevitable rush.
Check CheapAir’s estimated fares
How can you choose the best time to book a flight? One great way to keep in line with fluctuating fares is to utilize the CheapAir Holiday Flights Report, which is filled with information compiled by CheapAir’s scientists from across the internet.
If you’re unsure of what the day’s average fare is when looking to book travel, be sure to use CheapAir’s tireless calculations for an update on whether the days you’re looking to book are going to end up saving you money in the long run.
This year, for example, it seems that the Thursday before Thanksgiving is the cheapest day to fly this year. Then, the Monday and Tuesday that week are especially good days to fly as well.
However, the Sunday afterward is one of the most expensive days of the year. If you wait until December 3 to fly home after any festivities, you could save even more money — about $240 on average between ticket prices.
Additionally, Skyscanner has conducted research that attests that the best time to book domestic and international flights is actually in October when prices are 4% and 3% less than average when compared to December. That’s when they skyrocket to about 5% more on average. Looks like you might want to get started booking even earlier than December!
Use a price-watch service to keep an eye out for great fares
You don’t have to manually keep track of how prices for airfare will fluctuate — and many of us don’t have time to do that. You can use the Hopper app as a personal “deal finder” that will monitor and alert you when the destinations you need to fly to have gone on sale.
And if you see a cheap price in the middle of September for a New Year’s getaway, you might want to go ahead and book it, even if it seems a little too early. You need to be jumping on these discounts when you see them because the closer we get to December and on, the more expensive things are going to be.
Just because you’re set in your ways and wait to save up until a certain time of year when you “officially” start holiday planning, that doesn’t mean you should outright ignore the deals floating around ahead of time. If you’re really serious about saving money, you should be meticulously researching flights and other travel prices. Do the work, put the time in early and reap the rewards.
You might want a nonstop flight to New York City, but the fare with a connecting flight is cheaper. We get it, the nonstop is much more alluring. But if you want to save that precious moolah, you’re going to want to make the connection instead.
You may find that you end up saving a bigger bundle overall by taking small shortcuts that may be inconvenient. It might not be an ideal use of your time, but you’ll likely be getting a better bargain overall.
Pumped and primed for the holidays now? Armed with these tips, you should be able to head into the season with confidence — and plenty more cash in your pocket, too. Happy (early) holidays, and hopefully you can find some great deals that work with your budget.