Traveling for the Holidays? Here’s How to Save Time and Money
The holiday season is often a joyful time filled with celebrations and the gathering of families, whether they are close by or far apart. However, if you live far away from your relatives, it means you’ll likely need to travel during the holiday season, which can be quite costly, especially when it comes to booking flights.
To secure the most affordable airfare and avoid the stress of traveling alongside a multitude of people who are also heading out of town for holidays like Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year’s, it’s crucial to carefully select your travel dates. Airports experience high volumes of passengers throughout the holiday season, but there are specific dates when they become exceptionally crowded. During these periods of high demand, airfare prices can skyrocket.
Therefore, it is wise to plan your travel around less busy dates to avoid excessive costs. By being strategic with your travel dates, you can increase your chances of finding more reasonably priced flights and minimize the inconveniences associated with crowded airports during the holiday season.
By strategically planning your travel dates, you have the opportunity to achieve substantial savings on airfare costs. Being aware of the days that tend to offer cheaper flights and opting for less popular travel dates can potentially lead to finding excellent deals and inexpensive tickets.
Here are some key dates to consider if you’re looking to save money on your holiday travels.
Plan to Travel Early for Thanksgiving
Thanksgiving is renowned for being one of the busiest holidays in terms of travel. Countless individuals embark on journeys, causing roads and airports to become bustling with activity. Regrettably, due to most people having only Thanksgiving and possibly Black Friday off work, the day preceding Thanksgiving stands out as the favored choice for travel.
Consequently, everyone strives to secure a flight on Wednesday to ensure they arrive home in time for Thanksgiving. However, Wednesday is not only popular; it also happens to be the busiest travel day of the entire year, as reported by Smarter Travel¹. This high demand translates to exorbitantly priced airfare.
Alternatively, if you’re planning to travel for Thanksgiving, it would be wise to consider departing earlier. The Monday preceding Thanksgiving is regarded as the optimal travel day, boasting the most affordable airfare according to data from Hipmunk². Every other day during Thanksgiving week tends to be more expensive in comparison.
Travel as Close to Christmas as Possible
When it comes to planning flights for Christmas travel, it is advisable not to book too far in advance. Unlike Thanksgiving, it is actually better to wait until the last minute to secure airfare and depart for your destination around Christmas.
One reason for this is that the date of Christmas varies each year. While Thanksgiving consistently falls on the same day of the week, Christmas shifts. Some years, it lands on a weekend, while in others, it falls in the middle of the week. The specific weekday on which Christmas falls influences popular travel dates and airfare prices.
When Christmas occurs on a weekend, most dates leading up to the holiday are generally suitable for travel. This is because weekend airfare tends to be more expensive, regardless of the time of year, as noted by Smarter Travel³.
When Christmas falls in the middle of the week, airfare can be somewhat unpredictable. However, there is still a way to save money and find affordable flights.
The key is to travel as close to Christmas as possible. Flying on Christmas Eve (December 24) is often one of the best and most economical options⁴. Many individuals prefer to celebrate Christmas Eve with their families, resulting in earlier flight bookings. If you are willing to take a red-eye flight that arrives at your destination on Christmas morning, you can potentially save even more. Flying on December 25 is one of the most affordable options available⁵.
While it is essential to carefully plan and select a less-popular travel date, it is crucial to continuously monitor Christmas airfare for any changes. Ticket prices may decrease based on demand, and there is a possibility of finding even better deals if you continue searching after deciding on a departure date.
Avoiding travel around New Year’s is also recommended. Traveling during this time is known to be expensive for several reasons. After Christmas, many individuals book return flights between December 27 and 30 to be home for New Year’s. These dates are popular for those hoping to celebrate New Year’s at home or for individuals who are not spending their entire holiday vacation away.
Furthermore, numerous people are required to return to work on January 2, resulting in a high volume of travelers flying home on January 1. Even those who took an extended holiday vacation and spent both Christmas and New Year’s with their families will be aiming to return before their work commitments resume.
In addition to these factors, there are many people who travel specifically for the New Year’s holiday. Destinations like Las Vegas, New York, and numerous other locations worldwide are immensely popular on New Year’s Eve. Travelers will arrive just before New Year’s and plan their return flights for New Year’s Day.
According to Smarter Travel⁶, Hipmunk’s data designates December 29 as the worst travel day of the Christmas season. In fact, Hipmunk highlights that airfare tends to be higher between Christmas and New Year’s, as all days within that period experience a high volume of travelers.
Plan Your Holiday Travel Carefully and Search for Affordable Airfare
Traveling during the holiday season can often be a hectic, tiring, and costly experience. However, with careful planning and the right knowledge, you can navigate through these challenges more effectively.
Being aware of when airports are most crowded and travelers are actively seeking flights can help you avoid dates with higher airfare prices. Additionally, having knowledge about the least popular travel days can allow you to save money and bypass some of the major travel hurdles.
It’s crucial to start your search for airfare options early and invest time in comparing and researching different choices. Depending on the specific holiday, you may need to consider traveling earlier to secure better deals. Alternatively, for other holidays, it may be beneficial to closely monitor airfare prices and make your purchase when the prices drop. Regardless, staying vigilant and staying updated on the ever-changing airfare options is the best way to significantly save money. Make sure to explore different airlines and dates to find the most suitable and cost-effective options for your travel plans.