Christmas is a tale of two different airfare-pricing scenarios for international travel. We’ll tell you what’s cheap, what’s not and tips to make your trip trouble-free.
Airfare expert Rick Seaney knows all about holiday travel, so listen up! More tips here:
Europe and Asia
“Winter time is low season for Europe,” says airfare expert Rick Seaney and in this case, low means cheap. There may be a couple of dates surrounding the Christmas holidays where prices are higher (and this can vary from country to country) but in general, it’s a good time to go.
For U.S. travelers, Asia is more of a business-driven market and there are fewer price variations so airfare is largely flat year-round.
Note: Seaney notes that winter rates to Europe are normally lower than fall but “the big problem here is the baseline fuel surcharges of $450 round-trip and taxes of $160 set a pretty high floor for Europe (and Asia) prices.”
- When to buy: You have time to delay ticket purchases to these markets but don’t wait until the last minute which is generally 21 days before your flight (good advice for any airfare purchase).
Warm weather destinations like Caribbean islands will be high at Christmas time; this is partly because it’s a fun destination for holiday celebrations but it’s also targeted by snow birds tired of winter weather. High demand equals high airfare prices.
- When to buy: You should purchase these tickets as soon as possible.
Best Days to Fly
Generally speaking, flights on Mondays through Thursdays will save you money; often, flights on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays will garner an additional $30 to $80 round-trip premium.
Passport Info (even if you have one)
If you don’t have a passport, get one immediately. Everything you need to know about acquiring a U.S. passport is on the State Department website.
If you already have a passport, check the website’s information on specific country restrictions. Some nations require a traveler’s passport be good for an additional six months – or more – beyond the length of the trip.
More Tips for Easy Travel
Be aware of the potential for long lines when returning to the U.S. from an international trip. One option to bypass the worst of the lines is by joining Global Entry which costs a relatively modest fee but it’s good for five years.