If you're looking to save money on your holiday travel, money expert Clark Howard says you need to act quickly.
First, Clark says you should know this good news about travel. He says this coming holiday season is expected to be much better than things have been: not as many delays and cancellations as the ones that have plagued the airline industry this summer.
Not only are airlines reducing their flight schedules to make things go more smoothly, but after a peak summer season, fares are starting to drop.
Holiday Travel 2022: What To Expect
As a result, Clark has high hopes for cheap travel later this year.
When Is the Best Time To Book Holiday Travel?
Clark advises you to book holiday travel now.
“This is a case where I don’t think procrastination will pay,” he says. “Because the airlines reducing their flying-load schedules through the fall means that the lower-cost tickets will be soaked up earlier — not later. That’s why it’s important not to procrastinate.”
How To Save When Booking Travel for Later This Year
Clark says that he’s been researching fares for the autumn and beyond to gain insight on how airline tickets are trending for the holidays. Here’s his process.
Research Flights With Calendar Maps
Some travel sites use calendar maps that show you how fares change over the course of a month. One of Clark's favorites is Google Flights, where you can use the site's date grid (image below) to see fares across a specific period. Because Google Flights does not include Southwest Airlines fares, you can also look at Southwest's Low Fare Calendar.
“You bring up the calendar for November and December, and you look and see what the fares are day by day,” Clark says.
Avoid These 4 Days When Booking Holiday Travel
For your wallet’s sake, there are four days around Thanksgiving when you do not want to travel, Clark says.
"What are those four days at Thanksgiving? The Tuesday and Wednesday before Thanksgiving and the Sunday and Monday after Thanksgiving," he says. "Those four days historically are the highest volume traffic days of the year, and the airfares in turn reflect that."
If you’re trying to snag cheap flights for the holidays, Clark says you shouldn’t delay in booking your ticket.
Research your fares before purchasing to ensure you're getting the best deal possible.
And be flexible with your travel dates, if you can. “As long as you avoid the four most expensive calendar days of the year, you won’t have to sell a family member to afford the ticket,” Clark says.
Want more travel tips? Read Clark's guide on planning a money-saving trip.