Travel News

Budget Travel Tips for Holiday Season Travel

Locations in this article:  San Francisco, CA

Airport signPeter was on CBS’ The Early Show to talk about rising holiday airfares, and what you should do about it.

Already, Thanksgiving fares are rising rapidly and will continue to climb the longer you wait. But you still can save big money if you can be a little flexible on your dates.

Keep reading to find out which days are the best to fly around Thanksgiving …

When making your holiday travel plans, there are two things to remember: book early, and book off-peak.

Last year, airline fares dropped as Thanksgiving approached, but that is certainly not the case this year.

Winter SceneryAccording to online travel meta-search engine, holiday fares rose 15 percent in the past month, meaning a $380 round-trip ticket is now $440. Bing Travel reports that Thanksgiving prices went up 6 percent on average over the course of a week. So don’t wait, book your holiday travel now.

But even though fares are on the rise, there’s no need to make a brash decision. Take your time and compare prices on different dates.

You’ll find that on average, airlines charge more on peak days (i.e.- Thanksgiving flights departing on Wednesday and returning on Sunday). But you can save 25-50 percent just by leaving on Tuesday and coming back on Friday or Saturday. If you can finagle your schedule to make this work, do it. You’ll also encounter fewer crowds at the airports.

You can usually find great deals by skipping holiday traffic altogether. The Tuesday after Thanksgiving (December 1) and the Tuesday after New Year’s Day (January 5) are some of the best days to fly.

Learn more about Travel For Less With “Dead Week” Deals

While browsing for deals, online search engines such as Kayak, Orbitz or Expedia to compare fares. Also check out Bing Travel’s Farecast, which can recommend with some confidence whether to buy now or wait based on historical price fluctuations. (Full disclosure: Peter is a contributing editor for Bing Travel.)

Plane at gateOnce you’ve found the best deal, make sure you book the flight through the airline. Peter always recommends talking to a human being to be sure you’re alerted to the airline’s entire inventory, but remember that booking over the phone can incur extra charges. However, booking through the airline directly, rather than a third-party site, can help avoid potential hassles in terms of cancellations or refunds.

If you’re worried about running into delays, choose the first flight out for the day. That way if Murphy’s law rears its ugly head, you have a better shot of getting out on the same day.

Get more help in our Airlines & Airports section.

You can do your part to avoid delays by researching the on-time performance of your route, not just your airline. The Department of Transportation’s Bureau of Transportation Statistics tracks this on its monthly Air Travel Consumer Report.

Look into secondary or alternate airports, instead of major hubs. For example, choose Oakland instead of San Francisco, Long Island’s Islip instead of JFK, and Midway or General Mitchell (in Milwaukee) instead of O’Hare.

And remember, don’t confuse “direct” with “nonstop.” Direct just means that you stay on the same plane after a layover. Pick nonstop flights whenever possible to reduce your risk of a delay.

Want more help figuring out how to keep your holiday travels from getting too expensive? Check out Peter’s segment from the CBS Early Show:

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