How to Jumpstart Your Holiday Travel

Start saving up any end-of-year bonuses or windfalls because the holidays are coming up soon! We all know how quickly time flies after Halloween, and that’s arriving way before we’re ready for it. Want to know the absolute best time to book flights for the holidays? Take advantage of the moment because prime booking time is early-to-mid September, with savings of over $100 per flight. According to Hopper, an app that saves money on flights, “For every day closer to Christmas, average round-trip holiday airfare goes up about $1.60.” What are you waiting for?

If you plan to fly, there’s one particular airport you might want to avoid. It’s the stopover for nearly every southbound flight, runs over 2,500 flights on an average day, and connects you nonstop to 60+ international locations. Good old Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport has been the busiest in the business in 2016 and prepares for a challenging holiday season ahead. The Midwest doesn’t fare much better for airlines: Chicago’s O’Hare International was ranked #4 in the world, with Dallas/Fort Worth Airport following closely behind. Here are some smaller alternative airports, including a big shout out to our beautiful, laidback Bluegrass Airport in Lexington.

Prefer driving? A great rule of thumb is to drive any time a trip is five hours and under. Pros for driving include cost (unless you break down in the middle of winter) and the freedom of having your vehicle on hand. On the flipside, flying entails zero wear and tear on your personal vehicle but might come with some sticker shock if you’re used to driving. It all depends on your priorities, finances, and preferred travel time.

First, let’s tackle Thanksgiving: The day before Thanksgiving has been ranked as one of the absolute worst days for travelers because it’s the busiest travel day of the entire year. If your time off is limited, the actual holiday is a promising opportunity to avoid the insane traffic expected during this season. Besides, it’s an easy way to dodge any uncomfortable moments of awkward silences or introductions if you’re taking a guest with you. Planning a few vacation days around Turkey Day? Try to leave that Monday or Tuesday.

When it comes to Christmas, your best bet is well before December 23rd, the (late) night of Christmas Eve, or Christmas Day. Most experts advise shifting your time off to the week before, rather than the week after, the holiday. Pro tip: If you’re not a big fan of Grandma’s cooking or can’t stand your MIL, maybe opt for one of these wonderful recommendations for Christmas. Keep in mind, some of the most expensive days to travel are the weekends after Christmas and New Years because the industry has capitalized on supply and demand.

Hopper advises taking flight on New Years Day or NYE: It can save you over 25%. If your schedule allows the flexibility for traveling off season, early January provides some of the best deals in travel. Why shiver through the winter when flights and hotels are offering such big discounts? We’re getting ahead of ourselves now…we’ll revisit that thought later. For now, we hope you enjoy making your list (and checking it twice) for holiday travel preparation!

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