We know it’s hard to fathom that the holidays aren’t far away. But it pays to plan ahead.
As summer comes to a close, you need to plan for your holiday travel. If you’re getting on a plane for Thanksgiving or any winter holidays, it’s time to start booking now.
Here’s what to keep in mind to get the best deal possible on flights this Thanksgiving.
Unfortunately, domestic travel over the holidays is rarely cheap. But, there are a few things you can do to get the best deal possible for your holiday travel.
First, ditch Kayak and Expedia. Prices on these Online Travel Agencies (OTAs for short) vary day by day, and it’s hard to know if you’re really getting the best price the airlines can offer. Instead, use Google Flights. Google Flights is a flight price aggregator: It takes airfare pricing data straight from airline websites and shows you the best-priced options.
Next, set up a Google Flights Price Alert. Like, today. Simply search in Google Flights for the destination and dates you want to track, and turn the “Track Prices” toggle on. Just note that you need a Gmail account in order to track prices.
You’ll receive email notifications when your tracked destination and dates drop or raise in price. You can also see all your tracked flights in Google Flights, and view pricing history. This will give you a better idea of when prices may dip again. And when they do, book ASAP!
Book at Least 30-60 Days in Advance
The old travel lore of “last-minute deals” is no longer valid, especially when it comes to domestic holiday travel. Airlines know they can gouge travelers on airfare for the holidays. If you think prices are bad now, they will only get steeper the closer we get to Thanksgiving.
It’s important to start tracking prices and keeping an eye on airfare now because data trends show that booking domestic travel within the U.S. at least 30-60 days in advance will help you save. The earlier you can book, the better: and you won’t be stuck buying a crazy expensive ticket home a week before the holiday.
In fact, many travelers might have already missed the best Thanksgiving flight prices. Google has a nifty feature called Travel Trends, which analyzes flight prices from last year in the run-up to busy holiday travel. It’s only available between select cities, but it can give you an indication of the best time to book. Check out Travel Trends for yourself.
If you have the flexibility, you can likely save some cash by flying in and out a day or two before or after the usual holiday travel. Play around with the travel dates on Google Flights, and you’ll see the cheapest dates available in green. If you can adjust your travel schedule, that could save you money and headaches at packed airports.
If you’re planning to travel domestically for Thanksgiving (or any upcoming holiday), it’s time to start looking at flights. It may seem early, but we promise that tracking prices and booking early will save you some serious coin when it comes to getting home for the holidays.
Editorial Note: Any opinions, analyses, reviews, or recommendations expressed in this article are those of the author’s alone, and have not been reviewed, approved, or otherwise endorsed by any card issuer.