According to the US Department of Transportation, the Christmas and New Years holidays represent some of the busiest long-distance travel days of the year. With travel increasing by as much as 23 percent during this period, it stands to reason that airfares and train fares will be harder to come by – and pricier than usual. According to a study published last January by Cheapair.com, airfares increased by an average of 50 percent during the 2013 holiday season. But booking at the eleventh hour doesn’t have to be prohibitively expensive. Here are six secrets for getting out of Dodge between now and New Years without putting your finances in a dodgy situation:
Check Airfares First Thing in the Morning
The time of day that you actually sit down to book your flight can make a huge impact on the cost of your fare. Since most airlines update their inventory and prices overnight, checking airfares first thing in the morning can really pay off. Heres a bonus tip: Most airlines offer their cheapest fares on Tuesdays. So if you book your flight on a Tuesday morning, youll be even more likely to save.
Look at Alternate Airports
Most major hubs have smaller airports within 60 to 90 minutes of each other. In addition to offering alternate flight schedules to their larger counterparts, these smaller airports often provide lower fares. Larger metropolitan areas like LA or NYC will have more options, but every major city has at least one lesser-known alternate.
Buy Two One-Way Tickets
If all roundtrip flights to your destination cost an arm and a leg, consider purchasing two one-way tickets from different airlines. The total price may be substantially less than a roundtrip fare. If you use a travel site like Orbitz, enter two separate searches to and from your destination using the one-way option.
Fly on Off-Peak Travel Days
Incorporating just one off-peak travel day into your airfare can significantly decrease the cost of flying – sometimes by as much as 50 percent. If you need to travel on a peak day to reach your destination, consider booking your return for Christmas Day, New Years Eve, or another date when most travelers would prefer not to fly.
Dont make the mistake of booking the first flight you stumble upon. You may be able to find a much cheaper fare elsewhere. Sites like SkyScanner allow you to easily compare flight options and offer deals on mainstream airlines as well as lesser-known carriers – many of which offer significantly reduced fares. To research and compare reward flight options, search Expedia Rewards.
Skip the Airport
If a plane ticket is beyond your financial reach, consider a vacation spot thats within driving range. Depending on where you live, a relaxing change of scenery may be as little as a two-hour drive away. Dont feel like driving? Look into train or bus fares to the destination of your choice.