Everyone has a savvy shopper in their lives who is already halfway done with their Christmas gift list before even a single leaf has fallen. While the methods of hoarding gifts in closets and attics can seem a bit intimidating, preparing for the holiday season far in advance has its merits-and not just for presents to wrap come December. Going (formerly known as Scott’s Cheap Flights) recently shared insider tips on how to get the best prices for your 2023 December holiday travel plans. The most important piece of advice? Book right now.
Of course, timing is everything, and if you wait until deeper into the fall to book, say, your December holiday travel, it will be very tricky if not impossible to book an affordable flight. Of course, booking a last-minute September flight right now is also not particularly cheap. Booking in the opposite season will allow you to access prices that haven’t been as deeply impacted by the surge in travel demand this year.
This approach falls into what Going calls the Goldilocks Window strategy. It’s that sweet pocket of time when you’re most likely to find cheap flights. For domestic flights, that’s typically one to three months in advance, and for international flights that window is even wider, at two to eight months in advance. Peak travel seasons mean that the Goldilocks Window for buying flights is more like three to six months ahead of your planned domestic travel, and three to 10 months for international travel. To break it down:
Booking holiday winter travel
- Domestic flights: Three to six months in advance.
- International travel: Three to 10 months in advance.
What I’m hearing from all these different numbers games? You really can’t go wrong with grabbing your flight at least three months in advance of your planned travel. To put it plainly, you should be booking your holiday travel right now or at least before the end of September-the longer you wait, the less likely you’ll be able to find the best price.
Going also shared some of their flight deals that can be found if you start booking those Christmas and New Year’s flights right now:
- Chicago to Berlin for $487
- DC to London for $2,100 in business class
- Dallas to Auckland, New Zealand, for $981 nonstop
- San Francisco to Mexico City for $281
Another benefit of booking early? You’ll have more options to choose from. With demand for travel staying so high (Labor Day weekend just saw a record number of travelers), the winter holidays will probably be similar to this summer’s travel chaos. By planning far in advance, you’ll be able to have a better shot at picking your ideal dates, flying times, and even seat selection.
Overall, booking right now is your best bet for finding affordable flights. According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics airfare is steadily decreasing right now. Especially for flights to Europe, the prices for fall and winter travel are remarkably cheaper than they were earlier this year.
Don’t wait until the Halloween decorations are being put on clearance to book this holiday season’s travel-otherwise you’ll be paying much higher prices.
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Opheli Garcia Lawler is a Staff Writer on the News team at Thrillist. Follow her on Twitter @opheligarcia and Instagram @opheligarcia.