Many of us associate holiday travel with astronomical airfares, crowded airports and weather delays. That may be the case if you're traveling on the Sunday after Thanksgiving. But if you have some flexibility and can travel around peak holiday times, then you can score vacation gold. Keep the following money-saving tips for holiday travel in mind while planning.
Thanksgiving is an American tradition, which makes it a great time to head to Europe if you are able to plan for a few extra vacation days. You will be flying out while the Americans from abroad are flying in. Here's a bonus tip--start your trip in Dublin. It is the cheapest European destination from most U.S. cities, mainly because Ireland has a lower fuel surcharge than other countries. You can save more than $200.
Planning your vacation before or after the holidays can save you more than 50%. For example, if you plan a seven-night, all-inclusive getaway to the Caribbean during Christmas and New Year's Eve, it can cost upwards of $5,000 a person. Book it two weeks before or after the holiday and the price dips to about $2,100 per person.
In addition to low prices, resorts are throwing in extra perks to seal the deal. Resorts in places like the Caribbean or Cancun are offering things like "kids eat and stay free," airline credits and as much as $200 in resort credits.
If you need a rental car during the holidays, book it now. Otherwise you may be stuck paying as much as $800 for a week-long, economy-sized rental. But again, if you travel in that two-week window before or after the holidays you can score a rock bottom price.
One last tip: If you have spare vacation time after the holidays, you can take advantage of the off-peak season, mid-January till spring break. You'll see price drops for almost all destinations. No matter when you're traveling, the best time to book airfare is 4 p.m. EST. The majority of airfare sales start on a Tuesday and end on a Thursday. Waiting till Tuesday evening gives other airlines time to match competitor's fare.