The holidays are supposed to be a joyous time of the year, but making Thanksgiving and Christmas travel arrangements can bring about a ton of stress, especially when planning trips at the last minute. However, deciding to jet-set to grandma’s house just a few weeks before Turkey Day or Santa’s arrival doesn’t have to cost travelers their paychecks or their peace of mind.
One of the first rules of thumbs for planning last-minute getaways is to stay flexible. Many sites dedicated to travel offer flexible dates options that help travelers find the best deals that don’t necessarily line up with exact holiday dates. John DiScala of JohonnyJet.com told the Travel Channel that travelers can find some of the cheapest flights during the “dead weeks” – the weeks after Thanksgiving and after New Year’s.
Off-peak travel days can also help knock dollars off airfare. For instance, travelers should consider booking return flights on the Saturday after Thanksgiving instead of Sunday. Being open to traveling on Christmas Eve or Christmas Day as opposed to traveling in the days leading up to the holiday can also lead to more reasonably priced flight options.
No matter how far in advance a trip is booked, nonstop flights are almost always more expensive than flights with layovers. However, booking flights with one or more layovers or flying into a smaller alternative airport instead of major city airports can also significantly cut costs. SkyScanner recommends booking two one-way tickets instead of round-trip flights to save big on last-minute travels.
Checking out travel sites like Hipmunk, Kayak, Expedia and Cheap Tickets regularly for last-minute deals can go a long way too. A lot of sites even have alert options that notify travelers when a trip they’ve been searching for has reduced in price. Farcompare.com is another great resource that lists different airline fares for flights in and out of a city.