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When Is the Best Time to Book Holiday Travel?

SmarterTravel

Dear Jessica,

When is the best time to purchase airline tickets for the holiday season, specifically Christmas?

—C.O.

Dear C.O.,

While in general our advice is always to book early for holiday travel, we’ve recently received quite a few questions from readers wondering when to book for the December holiday travel season. We spoke with representatives from Expedia and Travelocity to get booking information from previous year’s holidays. Past trends are often a good indication of what to expect.

An Expedia spokesperson said, “There are often fare sales in early November, but as a general rule, the dates with the highest demand will likely be more expensive the longer someone waits to book.” With this advice in mind, we suggest booking more than a month in advance.

Amy Ziff, Travelocity’s editor-at-large, agrees. “While the general trend is that the average fare is booked about 30 or so days in advance, with holiday [travel], it can be more than twice that time.” A good rule of thumb is to book as soon as your travel dates are firm, or risk being shut out.

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It generally doesn’t matter if you’re heading home for the December holidays or if you’re planning a vacation for the same period; either way, planes will likely be packed.

Ziff explains, “This isn’t just about price, it’s about availability and making sure that you have the room you want at the resort you love or that there’s a seat on the plane home.”

If you’re planning a vacation, Ziff suggests booking a vacation package to get the most for your money.

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Last updated: August 17, 2015

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