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How to Optimize Your Holiday Travel Planning This Year (Step 1: Start Now!)

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© Photographed by Alex Chatelain, *Vogue*, March 1972

By Michaela Bechler, Vogue

Labor Day weekend signals the end of summer, which means we can start thinking about winter holidays. While we don't endorse playing Christmas music until November (at the earliest), we do encourage being smart about holiday travel. And according to Google's latest research, that means booking your Thanksgiving flights now.

As expected, Thanksgiving is one of the busiest travel times of the year, and flights cost more than average during this period. If you already know the dates that you need to travel, Google's travel team recommends booking before August's end to find the best fares. Flight searches for the turkey-eating feast increase by 76 percent in September compared to August. This number continues to climb in October, at 95 percent higher. Last minute planners who wait until November will not only pay the most, but have limited options to choose from.

According to Google, ticket prices increase about 75 days out from Thanksgiving (early September) and 35 days out (late October), with prices steadily increase 10 percent after each passing month. Hipmunk, an online travel assistant, recommends buying your Christmas flights during the week of October 15, "when the average flight price of $357 can save 25 percent off peak booking price."

Besides purchasing tickets early, Google recommends flying at the start of Thanksgiving week (that’s November 19 this year) and returning on the following Tuesday or Wednesday for the best fares. It’s more expensive to fly back to your origin the weekend after the holiday—the travel team says that timing is the "key driver of price"—so if you can, wait to leave until the 27th or 28th this year.

Hipmunk's data shows that traveling on Thanksgiving Day can save you 21 percent over the peak booking price, and flying on Christmas Day will save you 20 percent off peak travel prices.

“Even if you miss the cheap flight window, there are still some really easy ways to save," Hipmunk’s Kelly Soderlund told Vogue. "For instance, if you are flying into a metropolitan area, be sure sure to check alternate airports, which offer an average savings of 14 percent for Thanksgiving and 17 percent off the week of Christmas. Set a fare alert so you are notified when prices drop. And if you’re just on a quick trip, consider basic economy, which can save 13 percent for Thanksgiving and 14 percent for Christmas.”

If you’re open to skipping a family homecoming, Google reports that the winter holidays are a great time to go abroad: travelers can expect to see savings of over 30 percent on flights to Paris and London. Bon voyage!


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Travel - U.S. Daily News: How to Optimize Your Holiday Travel Planning This Year (Step 1: Start Now!)
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Travel - U.S. Daily News
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