Traveling during the holidays can not only be full of hassles due to the crowds but also quite expensive. How can you travel for Thanksgiving and Christmas for less?
Money expert Clark Howard has a few strategies that help him save big when it comes to holiday travel. But here’s something he suggests you not do: Never travel on the days right before or after a holiday.
Want To Save for Thanksgiving and Christmas Travel? Read This
“Thanksgiving is the most expensive time to travel every year,” Clark says, by way of example. “It’s just unconscionably expensive, but the demand is there, so what do you do about that?”
What you do is you come up with a travel game plan. In this article, we’ll show you some best practices to travel cheaply during the holidays.
How To Save on Holiday Travel: 3 Easy Steps
We’ll lean heavily on Clark’s sage advice to help you find the best times to travel during Thanksgiving and Christmas. We’ve also sourced predictive travel trends from Google, which lists the cheapest times to buy airfare during the end-of-year holidays.
Are you ready to save? Let’s go:
1. Look for Cheap Fares Online
Clark recommends that you use travel sites that employ airfare calendars so you can see various prices on different days. Here are a few:
- Google.com/flights lets you plug in the specific dates and shows you a calendar with the best deals around America.
- Kayak.com/explore: The site allows you to view a map of the United States with particular routes on sale.
- Southwest.com’s Low Fare Calendar shows you the cheapest monthly prices and allows you to compare fares easily.
2. Avoid These Four Days
Clark says you’re going to spend an arm and a leg if you plan to travel on either the two days immediately before or after a major holiday.
“If you can avoid those four days at Thanksgiving or Christmas the fare picture gets so much better,” Clark says. “Move your travel around somewhat and you’re going to get a better deal. Period.”
3. Buy at the Right Time
Not to be confused with the best time to buy a flight in general, purchasing airfare during the holidays requires a different methodology.
According to Google’s predictive travel data, buying airfare roughly 10 weeks out of whenever you’re traveling for the holidays, that’s when you’re going to get the best deals.
“Use the calendar to your advantage when you look,” Clark says. “So for Thanksgiving travel, right around the first of October and for Christmas around mid-October is going to be what’s going to help a lot with shopping for those airfares.”
Want more bang for your buck? Purchase your travel with a standard cash back credit card.
Clark says holiday travel can be a fun and relatively inexpensive experience for you if you’re intentional about saving money when you plan your trip, but end-of-year travel for 2023 presents some unavoidable challenges.
“When Christmas and New Year’s are on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday, the fares tend to be much lower in those years because when people travel is much more spread out,” Clark says.” So your mission — if you decide to accept it — is to shop for fares on one of the fare search calendars and widen your scope of days that would be acceptable for you to go.”
Want more ways to save on travel? Read up on Clark’s #1 Rule for Cheap Travel.