Why It’s Important to Book Holiday Travel Now​


​Ticket arbitrage

George Hobica, founder of the airfare comparison site Airfarewatchdog.com, has already booked his holiday travel. The key, he says, is to track bookings and be willing to cancel and rebook if the fares drop.

Because most airlines dropped their change fees on most tickets during the pandemic, fliers can cancel any existing booking and receive a credit that they can then use for a future ticket purchase. (This advice does not apply to ultra-low-cost carriers, such as Spirit Airlines, which tend to charge penalties for any changes, so read the fare rules before purchasing.)

“Be sure to keep checking after booking, because prices might go down and you can get a no-fee refund credit,” says Hobica, adding that the cheapest fares tend to be after the Thanksgiving rush to about mid-December.

Reschedule your holidays

For travelers willing to celebrate in new ways, the holiday months offer unexpected bargains.

Thanksgiving is “the hidden, best week of the year for international travel,” says Keyes. “Domestic fares are inflated, but for international trips, it’s actually a low-season week.”

During the last two months of the year, thrifty travelers can hear “Jingle Bells” done reggae style in the Caribbean or catch the holiday lights in London.

“If you can travel the first two weeks of November, before December 17 or after January 4, you can find rates often 50 percent lower than during the holiday weeks,” says Rob Stern, an adviser in Raleigh, North Carolina, who runs RobPlansYourTrip.com. “Some travelers who don’t celebrate Christmas will go on cruises from December 17 to 24 at surprisingly low rates.”

Elaine Glusac writes the Frugal Traveler column for The New York Times and is a national parks enthusiast based in Chicago. ​​

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