There's quite possibly nothing worse than traveling over the holidays -- assuming you enjoy holding onto your money and sanity. So, while the holiday season may seem far away, if you really want to be smart about it, you'll start booking your flights right now, when they're the cheapest.
New priceline.com data shows that late August to mid-October is the best time to find a cheap flight over the holidays, especially if you take into account these specific dates:
Thanksgiving (Thursday, Nov. 26th)
Worst days to fly: You'll pay higher fares if you leave the weekend prior to the holiday (Nov. 21st and 22nd), the day before Thanksgiving (Nov. 25th - aka the most expensive day to fly), or if you return any day between Nov. 28th and 30th.
Best days to fly: Depart Nov. 19th, 20th, 23rd, 24th, or 26th; return Nov. 26th or 27th, or wait until Dec. 1st.
For example, flying from New York to Tampa roundtrip from Nov. 19th-27th will cost you $290-$333; for Nov. 24th-Dec. 1st, it'll be $333-$373; and if you fly on peak days (Nov. 25th and 29th), fares can reach $628-$670.
Christmas (Friday, Dec. 25th)
Worst days to fly: Again, flights will be more expensive -- and packed -- if you fly the weekend prior to Christmas (Dec. 19th and 20th); they'll also be expensive if you fly Dec. 23rd, or the weekend after Christmas (Dec. 26th and 27th).
Best days to fly: Depart Dec. 21st, 22nd, or 24th; return Christmas Day or anytime between Dec. 28th and 31st.
For that same New York to Tampa flight shown above, current roundtrip fares for a Dec. 21st-29th trip are $341-$682; for Dec. 24th-29th, it's $427-$639; and for a Dec. 23rd-27th trip, fares are as high as $483-$720.
In general, you'll also always find the cheapest rates on early-morning flights (5-7am) or late evening (after 8pm). Mid-day flights are slightly more expensive, but not by a ton. You should absolutely steer clear of flights during peak business travel hours (8-10am, 5-7pm) as those are the most expensive.
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