CLEVELAND (WJW) — With the summer holidays behind us, it may be time to start thinking about your holiday travel plans.
For those who have to catch a plane to their destination, several travel blogs and price-comparison sites have some suggestions on how to avoid heavy crowds and costly ticket prices.
According to Cheapflights.com, summer is a great time to book winter holiday travel, with deals to be found as early as 25 weeks in advance. Google Flights and Priceline, meanwhile, say airfares are typically the least expensive around September and October.
Meanwhile, The Vacationer, a trip-planning blog, say the most important thing is to buy your tickets before Halloween. The airlines know you need to fly home in time for the turkey or to open presents under the tree, and costs are always higher for those who wait. Another thing to remember is that there are a limited number of available flights for the winter holidays.
Incidentally, June and July are the cheapest time to purchase your holiday tickets, according to Vacationer.
Thanksgiving is always on a Thursday in late November, falling on Nov. 24 this year. That means the busiest travel days are the Wednesday before and the Sunday after. If you missed the window to buy in June or July, late August or early September is your next best option, Vacationer says.
In addition, it might pay off to look at flights three days prior, or on Thursday itself, when heading to your destinations, NerdWallet says. Flying on Thanksgiving can save you around 12% when compared to the Wednesday before, according to the site. When flying back, try to leave on Black Friday, or on the following Monday, Tuesday or Wednesday.
Christmas Eve falls on a Saturday this year, and Christmas is on Sunday — two weekend days. The best times to book flights are the same as for Thanksgiving: August or September if you missed your chance in June or July.
Vacationer says to look for the following dates, which may be less busy and cheapest to fly.
- Sunday, Dec. 18
- Monday, Dec. 19
- Tuesday, Dec. 20
- Saturday, Dec. 24
- Sunday, Dec. 25
When booking a flight back, the site recommends the following dates:
- Wednesday, Dec. 28
- Thursday, Dec. 29
Other tips include searching on Google Travel for the best airline optimization, and always look at nearby airports for price comparisons. Some experts also suggest going through the airline to book your flight rather than a third-party platform. That way, if there are cancelations, you’ll be working with the airline directly.
Despite all of these tips, expect the flight to be more expensive than other times of the year. Also, if you can, consider driving or taking a train.