It feels like Summer was just yesterday but we’re already well into Fall with Halloween next week and The Holidays just around the corner after that. As is the case every year, travelers are expected to set new records for the total number of people traveling for Thanksgiving and Christmas.
Thanksgiving falls on Thursday, November 28th this year and if you’ve already booked your flight for Turkey Day then I’ve got some bad news for you because you booked it too early and could’ve saved some money, at least according to the experts. The same goes for Christmas.
Travel website Expedia used the absolutely massive amount of data at their disposal to create a 2019 Holidays Travel Report with the best windows to book flights. They’ve also included three major tips to abide by when booking travel.
The tips are pretty simple and if you’re not always doing this when you have flexibility booking flights then you’re just throwing money away:
1) Traveling on the holiday itself often yields the cheapest rates
2) Book at least two weeks to a month ahead of your trip
3) Avoid starting your trip on the Saturday before the holiday – this was consistently the most expensive day to fly
Everyone loves to fly on that Saturday before a holiday. You can typically sleep in your own bed one last night before heading home. You don’t have to rush to the airport after school/work on Friday. It’s just an easier day, in theory, but it’s also the most expensive because the demand is the highest and this means the airports are absolutely insane.
So when do you book flights for Thanksgiving 2019? Here’s your answer:
Cheapest Time to Buy: October 29 – November 13
— Booking two weeks to a month in advance of travel saved travelers more than five percent.
— Those who booked 91+ days out and less than one week out paid the most, with last-minute bookers paying more than 20% above average.
Best Time to Fly:
— For the cheapest rates, start your trip on Thanksgiving Day – last year travelers who departed on Thanksgiving paid about $100 less than those who departed the Saturday prior to the holiday.
— If traveling on the holiday is a no-go, your second cheapest options will be starting your trip on Monday or Tuesday of Thanksgiving week.
— Data confirms the busiest travel day leading up to the holiday is Wednesday, the day before Thanksgiving.
Typically, when book domestic flights the best window is ~2 weeks before your trip or 24 hours out but most people don’t have the stones to wait until the last second so around two weeks before is recommended. This isn’t the case at all when booking flights for Thanksgiving + Christmas, especially given that people have very specific requirements of when they can book those flights.
Here are the best dates to book for Christmas:
Cheapest Time to Buy: November 23 – December 9
— Booking during this window saved travelers around 15 percent, so aim to book at least two weeks to a month in advance of travel.
— While last-minute bookers payed around 2% more than average, early birds who booked 91+ days out paid around 15% more than the average holiday traveler.
Best Time to Fly:
— The cheapest day to fly was Christmas Eve, with travelers paying around $100 less than those who started their trip on the Saturday prior to the holiday.
— If traveling on Christmas Eve or day isn’t an option, aim to start your trip on the 23rd.
— Data confirms the busiest travel day leading up to Christmas is shaping up to be December 21st.
Got it? Ready to save some $$$ this holiday season? Money that you can then spend at the bar on Thanksgiving Eve, the biggest drinking night of the year? You’re damn right, you are.
Expedia has a bunch of other tips on their holiday travel guide which was released a few months ago but is relevant now and you can click here to find that.