It’s that time of the year when making travel plans for the holidays can be a daunting task. But Vacationer has pulled together a quick list of tips to help guide you to make those all-important travel decisions now, so you can focus on spending those merry and gay holidays with your family and friends.
1. Book Your Holiday Travel in September
If you haven’t booked your holiday travel yet, do it now! According to the travel booking app Hopper, the cheapest airfares for Thanksgiving and Christmas are in September. Make your travel plans post haste, and don’t expect cheaper deals as you approach the holidays. In fact, domestic airfare during Christmas will more than likely match 2019 prices, while international airfare is currently cheaper, but likely to increase by December, according to The New York Times. However, you still have time to book your Christmas trip. Travel experts recommend you lock down all your plans before Thanksgiving.
2. Best Times to Book Your Airfare
Avoid traveling on the Wednesday before Thanksgiving. The cheapest day to travel domestically is the Monday before the holiday. You can also score the best airfare for Christmas if you travel four or five days before the holiday, for example, on Dec. 21. For international travel, try to wait and leave on Dec. 23 to save the most cash, according to Stephanie Ruhle, NBC News Senior Business correspondent. And although we may not like to travel on the actual holiday, travelers will find cheaper plane tickets if they leave on Thanksgiving or Christmas.
3. Reserve Your Car Rental Early
Holiday road trippers should also plan ahead for that special visit to hang out with their chosen family for Friendsgiving or a return trip home to see dad, mom, and the rest of the family. Rental cars continue to be a hot travel commodity, and in some cases, prices are double or triple the pre-pandemic rates. Ideally, it’s best if you make reservations for your car rental one to two months in advance because rental cars remain in short supply.
4. Save Money with Vouchers, Points, and Loyalty Programs
If you have travel vouchers from previously canceled flights due to the pandemic, check to see if your voucher has a “book by” date to ensure you don’t miss out. You may be able to use it to help cut down on costs for your holiday getaway. Also if you have unused credit card points or unused rewards through loyalty programs, you may be able to use those to help save you some money as well.
5. Have a Backup Plan
More recently, we’ve heard about the issues with American Airlines and Southwest canceling flights, leaving hundreds of travelers stranded or scrambling for another way to get to their desired destination. So, always have a backup plan just in case things don’t work out. Make the most out of your unexpected layover and plan an extra day or two to explore the city.
If you need to get back home, be flexible and patient enough to work with your airline to find connecting flights that may get you home later than you anticipated. In some cases, it doesn’t hurt to search for other flights heading close to your final destination. For example, if you live in Washington, DC, consider flying to nearby airports, such as BWI in Baltimore or IAD in Dulles, Virginia. Be open to alternatives in getting home or to your desired destination.