It doesn’t feel like it should be time to book your holiday travel just yet — we haven’t even closed out the summer with Labor Day getaways — but many people think that the sooner you secure your tickets and hotel rooms, the better the deals you’ll get. Turns out, that may not be entirely true.
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According to a recent study by Skyscanner, a global travel search engine, the time when you’ll truly get the most bang for your buck is no more than four weeks prior to each of the end-of-year holidays — Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Years.
Skyscanner reviewed the U.S. roundtrip booking habits of its more than 50 million users and discovered that there are even possible savings if you book your flights the same week. However, if you aren’t up for that much risk with booking your trips, the site does suggest alternative time frames.
When Should I Book My Holiday Travel?
For Thanksgiving, the data crunchers suggest booking the week of October 31 to get the most savings (7.7%) or the week of October 17 (for savings of 5.1%). If you’re planning Christmas travels, you may want to do so the week of November 21 for the best deals (6.4% savings). If you don’t want to add one more thing to your list of things to do around Thanksgiving, the week of December 5 will reportedly get you a savings of almost 5%.
And if it’s New Year’s travel you’re planning, you could do so at the same time as your Christmas plans, as the week of December 5 will reportedly get you a 10.5% savings. These travel experts say waiting to make New Year’s travel plans until the last minute could pay off for you, with last-minute bookings (one week away) offering savings of 6.7% or two weeks out a 6.6% savings.
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And what about when it comes to specific dates? Many experts recommend booking your travel to fly in or out of town on a Tuesday, Wednesday or Sunday. Travels on Friday and Sunday are typically considered the most expensive, so you’ll want to avoid those if possible.
Budgeting for Holiday Travel
If you aren’t new to traveling for the holidays, you know how expensive it can get. It’s a good idea to figure out how much of an expense your wallet can handle and take some time to search for deals that fall within your budget.
You may also want to look for additional ways to save, like using a travel credit card that offers perks like the opportunity to check your bag for free. Just keep in mind that these cards often require a good credit score to qualify, so if you’re thinking of applying for one, it’s a good idea to check your credit scores ahead of time so you have an idea of whether you’ll be eligible. (You can see two of your credit scores for free, updated each month, on Credit.com.)