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Booking winter travel? Better act now

Jeanie Ahn
Senior Producer/Reporter

Winter is coming, and with it winter travel season. Two-thirds of adults are planning a trip away from home this winter, according to a Wallethub survey.

For the other third who say they’re staying put, it’s not just the plunging temperatures that are keeping them from hitting the road. According to the survey, 40% of those not planning to travel this winter – a total of 33 million people – say the main reason they’re not traveling is because they can’t afford it.

Those heading out of town for the holidays should solidify their plans as soon as possible, because prices will only rise as Thanksgiving and Christmas get closer. We’re just over 10 weeks out from the Christmas holiday, and if you book now, Skyscanner says you can save a modest amount – about 4% less than the average flight cost. Prices for international flights around Christmas have already gone up, but October is still the best month to buy, as they’re now only 3% above average.

If you wait until December to buy your tickets, you’ll likely pay more than 5% above average on international holiday flights, while domestic holiday flights booked a week before Christmas will be a 9% above average.

Looking to book travel for Thanksgiving? The best deals have come and gone – prices were lowest in August and September. But if you still have to book a flight for Turkey Day travel, some flexibility in your plans can definitely help you save. Consider flying out the Monday instead of Wednesday the week of Thanksgiving, CheapAir.com advises. Monday flights can save you an average of $40 compared to flights on Wednesday – notoriously the busiest travel day of the year in the U.S.

And when it comes to flying home, avoid the Sunday after Thanksgiving at all costs. That’s the busiest and priciest day to fly. Instead, try holding off until the Tuesday after the holiday (if you can manage  spending that much time with your family). You can save you around $209 on your ticket for a Tuesday return compared to a Sunday return.

Beyond pesky holiday travel, how does the frugal flier get the most out of winter travel deals? Apps and websites that let you set up price alerts are a huge help, and if you can be flexible with your vacation plans – including both the dates you can get away and which cities you can depart from – you’ll have a lot more cost-saving options.

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This story was originally featured on October 11, 2018.