Procrastinator’s Guide to Thanksgiving Travel: How to Avoid Going Broke during Holidays

You waited too long and prices are higher than ever. Well, look on the bright side – it could be worse! And it will be unless you get going now. See our new video below.

Procrastinator’s Guide to Thanksgiving

Procrastinate no more.

1. Buy now

  • United States: As of November 2016, domestic airfare prices rise on average about $4 to $5 per day, every day you delay. If that’s not bad enough, U.S. carriers launched an airfare hike last month, so if you’re reading this and thinking, “OK, I’ll buy my tickets tomorrow” that’s not good enough. Buy today.
  • International: Holidays and other popular times to fly (when school is out, when the weather warms up) are generally expensive. Never wait until the last minute to buy tickets.

2. Don’t go to one airline site

  • Always compare fares: If you go to a single airline site – any airline – you won’t always get the best deal (I can hear the fans of a certain ultra-discount carrier disagreeing but this has been proven). Go to a fare comparison site for shopping but also go to individual airline sites that do not share fare data such  as Southwest.com in the U.S.

3. Be as flexible as possible

Two ways to do this:

  • Fly less popular days: Days people don’t want to fly are generally less expensive; at Thanksgiving time, the cheapest day is usually the holiday itself (Nov. 24). Here are some specific departure/return itineraries that will save most travelers something.
  • Fly to and from hub airports: Bigger usually means cheaper fares, so compare prices from your hometown and the nearest big airport. Even if you have to drive an extra hour or two, it could be worth it.

4. Short hops can save

  • Holiday getaway savings: If you don’t need to be someplace specific, short flights of about 90 minutes or less between hub airports are generally less affected by big holiday price swings than other itineraries. Examples include U.S. flights between Los Angeles and San Francisco, Dallas and Houston, New York and Boston. See similar savings on routes in Europe and Australia; examples include London and Paris, Sydney and Melbourne.

5. Forget non-stops (for some routes)

  • Connecting flights can be cheaper: Instead of automatically opting for the more convenient non-stop, check prices for connecting flights, too. The longer trip is often cheaper and this is another example where comparing fares can save you money.

6. Don’t get weighed down with big bags

  • Carry-ons are usually free: Even when they aren’t they do have the big advantage of traveling by your side so they do not get lost. Plus you won’t waste precious holiday vacation time waiting at the baggage carousel.

7. Entertainment essentials

What do we need? Food and fun.

  • Food: No meals in economy/coach these days, so bring your own from home to avoid the crappy food in the airport.
  • Fun: Bring an electronic device (phone, tablet, laptop), bring a charger cord and bring some headphones because on many planes these days, there are no screens; it’s up to you to provide the entertainment. Have a credit credit card handy because in most instances you will pay for WiFi. Or bring a magazine or book because these days, alas, that zany SkyMall magazine isn’t around to thumb through anymore.

VIDEO: Let’s make it real simple.

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Updated: November 7, 2016