Lonely Planet Writer

Want to travel for the holidays? Save money by booking Thanksgiving flights now

If your summer holiday has already come and gone, then it may be the perfect time to start planning some Thanksgiving or Christmas travel. Not only will making plans now give American travellers something to look forward to, but Expedia.com has released flight data that shows booking holiday travel early can lead to some significant savings.

A man books a trip on a laptop computer.
If you want to travel over Thanksgiving, now’s the time to start planning in order to save money. Image by Westend61/Getty Images

The online booking company looked at 2016 data and found that more than 85% of holiday travellers missed out on the lowest airfares for two of the busiest travel periods last year. “Timing is a big factor in getting a good deal on airfare,” said Sarah Gavin, vice president of global communications for Expedia in a statement. “People typically know pretty far in advance whether they’re going to travel for the holidays, so it’s a good idea to keep an eye on prices months out”.

Tourists on the beach front at sunset on Waikiki beach. Image by ©Jeff Whyte/Shutterstock

If you’re hoping to get away for Thanksgiving, the company says that the best time to book is 61 to 90 days before, which yielded about a 10% savings last year. That window is open until about 23 September.  Those who waited less than six days before booking paid 20% more than the average price. When it comes to Christmas – one of the most expensive times to travel – the cheapest time to book is about 14 to 20 days away from the holiday, which led to savings of about 5%. Waiting until the last minute could mean you’re paying about 15% more than average.

The company even took things to the next step, finding out the destinations where American travellers can save some money on flights from September to November. Flights to France, China and the Philippines are about 20% cheaper to book for that period right now, while Greece, the Netherlands, Spain, South Korea and India are all around 15% cheaper.