If you’re planning to fly somewhere for the holidays, now is the time to commit. With Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year’s Eve slowly approaching, October has the most days when airfares are lower than average, according to booking data from travel-comparison site Orbitz.
The best day to book Thanksgiving travel was Oct. 6, but Orbitz’s calendar of holiday fare trends shows that, for the rest of the week, fares should be about 5% lower than the average prices this time of year. In total, Orbitz estimates there are 15 more days where you can book Thanksgiving travel for less-than-average fares, but only four of those days fall in November. (Orbitz didn’t detail its research methodology for this low-fare calendar, simply saying via email that it was based on historical flight data.)
Even though Christmas is a month later than Thanksgiving, there’s a similarly small window of opportunity to snag lower-cost fares. According to the analysis, you’ll save the most by booking Christmas travel on Oct. 9, and the last chance to get a discount will be Nov. 8 (the last chance for Thanksgiving is Nov. 14). If you take a look at the calendar, you’ll notice that discounted days often aren’t consecutive — one day you may score a deal, and the next has nothing special — so you may want to check prices regularly and get a solid idea of what’s really a good price.
You have a little more time to take care of your plans for the new year (as of Oct. 7, there are 19 days left that Orbitz identified as days you can get fares for 5% lower than average). The best day to book is this Saturday (Oct. 10), according to the Orbitz data.
Keeping a Holiday Budget
Holiday travel can get expensive, so if you’re among the 71% planning to go elsewhere for Thanksgiving, Christmas or New Year’s (according to Orbitz’s holiday travel study), take some time to search for deals in the coming days. Just don’t wait too long. While you can sometimes find great prices when making last-minute travel plans, it’s more likely you’ll end up with fewer, more expensive flight and hotel options.
Even without travel, these next couple months are an expensive time of year, making it easy to spend beyond your budget, fall behind on bills and potentially damage your credit scores, and that can cause problems that last until long after the holidays are over. (You can see how your payment history is impacting your credit scores for free on Credit.com.)