As the summer comes to a close and travel begins to wind down, experts are advising travelers to start planning their holiday trips. Despite the current sweltering heat and the leaves yet to turn colors, now is the ideal time to secure your next adventure. Hayley Berg, the lead economist at airfare tracker Hopper, recommends booking major holiday travel by mid-October, which she refers to as the "sweet spot." This includes both Thanksgiving and Christmas travel, as prices tend to increase the longer one waits to book. Additionally, being flexible with travel dates and destinations can lead to finding the best deals. With airfares on a downward trend and domestic flights averaging lower prices compared to previous years, it's wise to plan ahead and take advantage of the current market.
1. When to start planning holiday travel
The holiday season is a popular time for travel, with many people taking advantage of their time off to visit family or go on a vacation. Planning ahead during the summer surge can help ensure that travelers secure the best deals and have a smooth travel experience.
An example of early booking for Christmas travel is highlighted by Courtney Pohlman of Chicago, who took advantage of cheap flights and booked her Christmas getaway to Paris while preparing for her Labor Day trip to the Dominican Republic. This demonstrates the benefits of planning ahead and taking advantage of available deals.
Experts recommend booking holiday travel by mid-October. Hayley Berg, the lead economist at airfare tracker Hopper, advises travelers to book major holiday travel by October 14th, which she considers the "sweet spot" for getting the best prices. Berg also emphasizes the importance of booking both Thanksgiving and Christmas travel, as waiting too long to book Christmas travel often results in missing out on the best deals.
Different approaches to booking are observed among travelers. Some, like the Hedayat sisters, admit to being last-minute travelers, booking their travel only a week before their trip. However, travel experts recommend booking around late September to secure the best pricing. LeRoy Fletcher and Denise Brown-Fletcher suggest getting reservations two months in advance for the most favorable prices.
2. The current trend in airfares
Airfares have been experiencing a downward trend, with declines observed in 11 out of the last 14 months. This trend is beneficial for travelers, as it means more opportunities for affordable flights.
On average, domestic flights for Labor Day were priced at $226 for a round trip, which is an 11% decrease from the previous year and a 20% decrease from 2019. This data from Hopper demonstrates the cost savings available to travelers during the holiday season.
European flight prices have also seen a decrease, with an average cost of around $1,130. While this is a reduction from last year's prices, it is still higher than the prices in 2019.
However, international airfares are expected to remain higher than pre-pandemic levels for the rest of the year. This means that travelers who typically engage in international getaways during the holidays might want to consider domestic or more regional routes, which tend to be less expensive.
3. Tips for finding the best deals
To find the best deals for holiday travel, it is important to be flexible with travel dates and destinations. By having some flexibility, travelers can take advantage of lower prices and more availability.
Booking on traditionally busy days should be avoided to secure better deals. These days tend to have higher demand and, as a result, higher prices. By choosing less busy travel days, travelers can save money and have a more enjoyable travel experience.
Considering alternate airports is another tip for finding the best deals. Nearby airports might offer lower fares or more availability, providing travelers with additional options. By exploring nearby airports, travelers can potentially save money and have more choices for their travel plans.
4. The importance of flexibility
Flexibility plays a crucial role in securing the best deals for holiday travel. Being flexible with travel dates allows travelers to take advantage of lower fares and better availability. By considering a range of travel dates, travelers can find the most affordable options.
Similarly, flexibility with destinations can also lead to cost savings. Being open to different locations or exploring alternative destinations can result in finding better deals and unique travel experiences. By being open to new possibilities, travelers can discover hidden gems and save money at the same time.
5. Consideration of nearby airports
Exploring nearby airports is a strategy that can lead to potential savings for holiday travel. Checking out airports within a reasonable distance to the intended destination can unveil lower fares or more convenient options.
By considering nearby airports, travelers can access a broader range of airlines and flight routes. This expanded selection increases the likelihood of finding better deals and more suitable travel options. Additionally, the convenience and cost savings of traveling to a nearby airport might outweigh the slight inconvenience of a longer journey.
6. Importance of planning for both Thanksgiving and Christmas travel
Booking for both Thanksgiving and Christmas travel is highly recommended by experts. While many travelers focus on booking for Thanksgiving, delaying booking for Christmas travel often results in missing out on the best prices.
By planning and booking for both holidays in advance, travelers can secure lower fares and better options. This approach ensures comprehensive travel plans and allows travelers to take advantage of available deals for both Thanksgiving and Christmas.
7. Airfare prices during the pandemic
Airfare prices have experienced a downward trend during the pandemic, providing opportunities for cost savings. This trend has been observed over the past 14 months, with 11 of those months showing declines in airfare prices.
Comparisons to previous years reveal the extent of the decrease in prices. Labor Day domestic flights, for example, were 11% cheaper than the previous year and 20% cheaper than in 2019. This significant decrease in prices allows travelers to save money during the holiday season.
However, international airfares are expected to remain higher than pre-pandemic levels for the rest of the year. Travelers interested in international getaways during the holidays might need to consider alternative options, such as domestic or more regional routes, to find more affordable fares.
8. Recommendations for international travelers
For international travelers, considering domestic or more regional routes is a recommendation given the higher international airfares during the holiday season. By exploring domestic or regional options, travelers can find less expensive alternatives while still enjoying a holiday getaway.
These alternatives provide opportunities to discover hidden gems within a country or region. Travelers can explore new destinations and cultures while also benefiting from lower airfares. This option opens up a realm of possibilities for international travelers seeking cost-effective travel options.
9. Benefits of booking two months in advance
Booking two months in advance offers several benefits for holiday travel. By planning ahead, travelers can secure the best pricing available. Airlines often offer better deals for bookings made in advance, allowing travelers to save money on their flights.
Timing is critical when it comes to reservations. Booking two months in advance aligns with the sweet spot for securing favorable prices. By following this timeframe, travelers can avoid price increases and secure the best deals for their holiday travel.
10. Final tips for finding the best holiday travel deals
To maximize the chances of finding the best holiday travel deals, it is important to adhere to some final tips. Being flexible with dates and destinations remains a key strategy for securing affordable fares and suitable options.
Avoiding busy travel days is another important consideration. By steering clear of high-demand days, travelers can not only save money but also have a more pleasant travel experience, as there will be fewer crowds and shorter lines.
Lastly, considering nearby airports can lead to potential savings. Exploring alternative airport options allows travelers to expand their choices and potentially find better deals. The convenience and cost savings associated with nearby airports can outweigh any minor inconveniences.