The holidays may feel far away, but preparing for them shouldn’t be. Whether you are planning a trip home to see family this Thanksgiving or simply need a getaway for a few days when the leaves start to turn and snow starts to fall, keep these helpful tips in mind before booking your next flight. Saving on airfare means more cash in your pocket for other fun activities instead.
The 76-Day Rule
According to CheapAir.com’s annual airfare study, the best time to buy a domestic ticket within the United States is approximately 76 days before your departure (this is up from the previous few years of only 54 days which means it pays to plan ahead). There truly is a method to the madness! Believe it or not, airfare prices change 62 times on average over the course of 11 months so CheapAir.com recommends that travelers closely monitor airfares during the “Prime Booking Window” (which is from four months to three weeks prior to the departure date). Be prepared to purchase if the price is appealing during this time.
In the event you have enough saved to make a trip across the pond or somewhere else outside the United States, keep in mind that each area of the globe has its own Prime Booking Window. Europe has a window of 160 days out while Mexico ranges from two weeks to six months.
The Best Day of the Week—or Time of Year
The common notion is you should purchase airfare on specific days of the week to save money. However, CheapAir.com says the average fares purchased each day were nearly identical—so there’s no reason to only pounce on tickets on Thursdays. All days are created equal! On the flip side, keep in mind there are cheaper days to fly—Tuesdays and Wednesdays win the award while Sunday is the most expensive.
Instead, intended flyers should focus on time of year instead of day of the week for finding the best deals. Fall and winter trips should be booked 69 to 62 days in advance (rather than summer trips which only need 47 days).
Home for the Holidays
Planning your trip home last-minute isn’t ideal (stick to the 76-day rule if you can), but sometimes life happens. So, if traveling home for the holidays is your top priority and you weren’t able to purchase your ticket earlier, keep these times in mind as the holidays approach and you’re more likely to save a buck:
- Purchase your ticket the last week of October for Thanksgiving travel
- Purchase your ticket the week of November 21 for Christmas or Hanukkah travel
- Purchase your ticket the week of December 5 for New Year’s Eve travel
Still confused on when to book your flight? Consider creating an airfare alert through search engines like Google Flights or Kayak. These tools will send an alert if flight prices drop on your desired plunge. And if all else fails, consider financial assistance. Good luck, and happy travels!