High prices and long lines won't keep you from visiting loved ones for the holidays this year--we know. Whether it's grandma's house or a destination holiday, we've got you covered with the most up-to-date money-saving travel info. This year, plan ahead and use these tips from travel industry insiders and you'll save mony, avoid the rush and get to your destination in time to make merry.
Book Airfare Like a Pro
Creating a holiday flight plan for the whole family can be just as tricky as it can be expensive. Luckily we talked with travel experts at Expedia and Travelocity so this year booking airfare will be a breeze.
Best days to travel for Thanksgiving: For Thanksgiving travel, the worst days (for both prices and airport congestion) are the Wednesday before and the Sunday after, so if you can extend or shorten your holidays, you'll see the savings.
Best days to travel for Christmas: With Christmas on a Tuesday this year it will save money if you can extend your vacation by arriving earlier, particularly Wednesday or Thursday before and departing after the 26th. Our experts estimate that if you book with these dates as early as October you could see savings of 10 to 15 percent versus arriving the weekend before and departing on Wednesday the 26th.
Be flexible: The more flexibility you have the better, but not just with dates. If you're willing to look at other airports near your destination, you may find better prices. For example, according to our experts, flying through LaGuardia Airport in New York City rather than Newark or JFK can save you 15 to 30 percent, depending on the time of the year.
When to book: There is truth to the myth that Tuesday is the best day of the week to book tickets, the earlier the better. This is because airlines tend to load a lot of deals andnew inventory Tuesday at 12 a.m.
Nonstops vs. layovers: While you may be used to looking at flights with layovers to save money, our experts say you could be wasting money. Due to the fact that planes use the most fuel during takeoff and landing, combined with the rising cost of jet fuel, many of the shorter flights are more expensive, which makes longer direct flights your best bet for saving both time and money.
Be Smarter With Your Travel Points
Earning and managing arline points can be a frustrating and tiring process. Fortunately Brian Kelly, aka The Points Guy has broken it down for us, and you'll be surprised at how easy airline points can be! We've listed here some important things to keep in mind for holiday travel, but to reap even more knowledge, read his blog.
Change how you shop online: Racking up more airline points is as simple as shopping online (hello, gifts!), as long as you click through a retailer's website from an online mileage mall. To make it even easier, Kelly has a list with links to the various online shopping portals that will earn you extra points for your online purchases on his site.
Do the math: Airlines can make buying points seem like an alluring option, but Kelly warns that's not always the case. It's only worthwhile when the benefit far outweighs the cost. For example, if buying $100 worth of points will save $2,000 on an upcoming cross-sea business class flight, then yes.
You can roll your points over: In order to get you to buy miles or use the ones you have quickly (or even to make them expire, leaving you with higher ticket prices), most airlines don't allow points to roll over from year to year. But Kelly advises that you can skirt that issue by making a single purchase through the shopping portals mentioned above. If you have one mile entering the account, your miles will get a new expiration date.
Upgrade your flight for less: Since holidays are generally a slower time for business travel, the business class seats may be heavily discounted and conversely, since holidays generally see a higher demand for
economy seats, the different in prices between the two will be much smaller than other times of the year, meaning cheaper upgrades.