Starting thinking about holiday travel now. | Matt Cardy/Getty Images
Nailing down the best prices for holiday flights can be a lot like playing frogger. Travel site Hopper analyzed flight data and found prices for Thanksgiving change 102 times between now and November 22 and Christmas prices fluctuate 152 times.
So how do you know when is the best time to book your flight for Thanksgiving and Christmas? The average round-trip ticket during Thanksgiving is about $288 and $320 for Christmas. The good news is ticket prices are lower than they were this time last year.
Getting a good deal on holiday travel is vital, especially if you purchase gifts, food, and any holiday attire. In order to take the guesswork out of when to book, when to travel and where to go, Hopper compared historical data with current prices to provide travelers with an idea of when to get the best deal.
When to book for Thanksgiving
Last year the best Thanksgiving deals came in late September. While you should start scanning flights now, Hopper says you may be able to wait a little longer and book Thanksgiving flights before the week of Halloween. At that point, prices are anticipated to spike.
You can also save money by booking flights for certain days during Thanksgiving. The biggest savings is to leave on Thursday, November 22 and return on Wednesday, November 28. You can also travel on Thanksgiving to save money or leave on Monday, November 19.
When to book for Christmas
Make your Christmas flights a priority, according to Hopper. In fact, travelers should book tickets before buying for Thanksgiving as mid-October should have the best deals. Both trips should be secured before “The Great Pumpkin” makes an appearance.
As with Thanksgiving travel, when you fly makes a difference in price. The best deals are had if you depart on Tuesday, December 18 and return on Thursday, January 4. Since many have to be back to work by the New Year, you could return on Thursday, December 27 and still get a decent fare.
Hot travel spots for Thanksgiving
Don’t be late for Thanksgiving dinner. | Getty Images
Travel to some states have more price changes and are booked the most, which should be taken into consideration. Hot travel spots include Los Angeles, New York, and Newark, New Jersey. But also Atlanta, Ft. Lauderdale, and Chicago too. Prices are most expensive for New York, with the best deal for a round-trip fare at $305. The least expensive “hot” city is Ft. Lauderdale, currently at $233.
Unfortunately, hot destinations seem to have the most price changes too. Cities include Los Angeles, New York, Orlando, Ft. Lauderdale, and Las Vegas. Prices may change 211 times for Los Angeles flights and 203 times for New York. Cities with the least number of price changes include Charlotte, North Carolina and Salt Lake City, Utah. Even though prices change the least, fares change 98 times for Charlotte, for instance.
Hot travel spots for Christmas
Orlando is a Christmas hotspot. | Mark Ashman/ Disney via Getty Images
For the most part, Thanksgiving and Christmas hot spots are very similar. Honolulu, Hawaii is unique for Christmas travel and so is San Francisco, California. The average ticket price for a Christmas hot spot is around $350 round-trip. However, if you are looking to hit the Hawaiian beaches, plan to spend at least $932 per ticket. You’ll also pay a little more for New York Christmas travel over Thanksgiving as a decent round-trip price is at $345.
Prices for flights to Los Angeles may change 282 times and 261 for Ft. Lauderdale. Price changes even are more frequent for cities with the least number of changes. For instance, prices changed 98 times for Charlotte, North Carolina for Thanksgiving travel, but 104 times when booking for Christmas.
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