Ready or not, the holidays are around the corner, and it’s time to start planning your travel. We analyzed hundreds of millions of queries performed on KAYAK last year to predict the cheapest times to book and travel for this year’s holiday season.
When to Book (Hint: Now)
For Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year’s Eve travel, on average the cheapest airfares were found between September and mid-October. Procrastinators beware: after mid-October, airfares for Thanksgiving increased up to 17%, 51% for Christmas and 25% for New Year’s Eve.
For those traveling abroad throughout the holiday season: try to book international travel as soon as possible. Last year, there was no low period for international airfare for Thanksgiving, Christmas or New Year’s Eve; instead, airfare steadily increased closer to departure.
When to Travel
For those traveling domestically, the best days to depart were Monday and Tuesday (15-23% below average). Try to return Thanksgiving Day, Friday or the following Tuesday; returning these days saved travelers more than 20%. International travelers should try leaving close to or on Thanksgiving Day or stay through the weekend to save as average airfares tended to be lower on these days.
For domestic travelers, try departing as close to the 25th as possible – last year this saved travelers more than 20% on average. Try to avoid departing and returning during the weekends surrounding Christmas (fares were up to 24% above average). For international travel, trips 3-5 days in length centered around the holiday offered the best savings.
New Year’s Eve
For domestic travel, shorter trips centered around New Year’s Eve/New Year’s Day displayed the cheapest fares (more than 15% below average). For example, travelers who departed the 29th-1st and returned the 31st-3rd found savings up to 30%. The same goes for international travelers, but be sure to avoid returning after the 1st as the airfares steadily increased daily up to 27% above average on the 5th.
You may be able to put off family plans and gift shipping until the last-minute, but booking your travel early could save you serious money. Happy Holiday travel planning.