The holiday season may feel ages away, especially if you’re still experiencing summer-like temps and debating what to dress up as for Halloween. But in reality, the time to book your holiday travel is now.
According to numbers from airfare comparison site Hipmunk, prices will surge after October 31, meaning the clock is ticking on those savings.
Luckily, you still have a couple weeks left to get a deal, with the potential to save up to 24% on Thanksgiving flights and 31% on Christmas flights, according to Hipmunk. Consider these tips when booking so you don’t blow your holiday budget. (After all, you still have gifts to buy!)
1. Compare Rates
Yes, this seems like a no-brainer, but don’t let the pressure of knowing time is limited lead you to settle for the first flight you find. Check out several travel sites, and check back over the course of a few days to get a complete picture of the prices offered.
Consider setting a fare alert, says Adam Goldstein, CEO and co-founder of Hipmunk, so you’ll be alerted if prices drop. While you shouldn’t procrastinate hoping prices will miraculously drop, setting an alert now and giving yourself until the end of the month to book still gives you some time to take advantage of any deals that may pop up.
2. Be Flexible
Sure, you can’t change what days the holidays fall on, but can you change what days you’ll travel for them? Flight prices fluctuate depending on the day of the week, so if you can travel on a Thursday instead of a Saturday, you may find a better deal.
And if you can travel on the holiday itself, even better, says Goldstein, who’s found that flying the day of saves an average of $100.
Being flexible with airport selection can also bring the price down, so be sure to search surrounding airports, as well as the most popular or closest ones.
3. Use Rewards
If you’ve been squirreling away your credit card points, this could be an excellent time to put them to good use. But redeeming directly through your credit card company may not be your best option. To get the most from those hard-earned points, consider transferring them to a partner airline.