When Should You Book Your Year-End Holiday Travel Plans?

A picture of a family sitting around the dinner table, taking a selfie.Did you know that more than a quarter of holiday travellers book their flights and accommodations by the end of September each year? Some tips we may have heard like, “airline tickets are always more affordable on Tuesdays”, are no longer necessarily true.

Summer is usually the best time to book holiday travel, whether in North America or overseas. If you didn’t complete your holiday plans between June and August, the last two weeks in September are the next-best time. What’s the worst time to book a holiday flight? The week beforehand. Prices universally skyrocket as the holidays approach.

Which times and tactics can help me to save on holiday flights?

First, book at least six weeks in advance. In late September, we’re still 12 or more weeks away from the December holidays. You may save on international travel during the third week in November when U.S. families are celebrating their Thanksgiving holiday and travelling within the States.

Consider alternative airports and be flexible about your departure and arrival days and times. Smaller regional airports may have better prices and less traffic. Occasionally, you may locate two separate one-way flights that are more affordable than traditional round-trip tickets.

Find a price comparison tool that works for you. Travel booking websites usually have similar, if not identical, results these days. You may be able to find which airlines have the most favourable ticket prices using an online comparison tool. Once you locate your desired airline and a price range, you can visit the airline’s website directly and book your flight using a travel rewards card. When you do this, you can also investigate the airline’s miles program and potential rewards.

Beware of pitfalls when using online booking services

It seems that we pay for convenience and this is the case with online travel agencies (OTAs) and travel search engines. What is the difference between the two? You will pay an OTA directly for your flight, hotel, and other travel services. You’ll notice that OTAs often charge service fees and that they offer travel rewards programs, itineraries, and other benefits. Travel search engines enable you to compare pricing between different OTAs. If you select a destination and time, you will be directed to an OTA where you’ll pay for your travel.

Between service fees and other charges that don’t appear immediately when you select your flight, you may find yourself paying more than you planned. You may also find yourself unable to upgrade your seats and paying unexpected baggage fees. OTAs also may charge high cancellation fees.

How should I book our holiday travel the smart way?

First, take advantage of holidays in other countries which can spell savings on overseas travel for you. Second, don’t wait until the last minute. Book your holiday tickets in September if possible. If it’s not possible, don’t wait past the last week in October. You will likely pay a heavy premium as we inch towards the December and January holiday season. And finally, use an online price comparison tool for your own information but don’t feel obligated to purchase tickets from it. Try booking directly from the airline’s website for good prices and benefits and put your travel-friendly rewards credit card to good use to get the most out of your vacation budget. While you’re planning your trip, don’t neglect to get travel insurance. Whether you’re travelling in-country for the holidays or snowbirding, travel insurance can protect you financially if you’re injured or ill when outside of your home province.

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