During a summer marked by a surge in travel, the Transportation Security Administration reports 227 million screenings since Memorial Day. Despite the sweltering heat and the leaves yet to turn colors, experts suggest it might already be the right time to start planning your next adventure.
Courtney Pohlman of Chicago is a prime example. As she prepared for her Labor Day trip to the Dominican Republic, she already booked a Christmas getaway to Paris.
Pohlman said, “I was watching flights, and they’re cheap. So I bought ’em.”
Hayley Berg, the lead economist at airfare tracker Hopper, advises booking major holiday travel by Oct. 14.
“It’s the sweet spot,” Berg said. “And you should book both Thanksgiving and Christmas travel. Not just Thanksgiving. We wait too long to book Christmas travel and miss out on the best prices.”
But not everyone plans ahead.
The Hedayat sisters, Camellia, Samira, and Nadia, admit to being last-minute travelers, saying they don’t book travel until the week before a trip.
Others, like LeRoy Fletcher and Denise Brown-Fletcher, book travel around “late September,” which travel experts recommend.
“The idea is to get your reservation two months out as far as pricing is concerned,” LeRoy Fletcher said.
Airfares have been on a downward trend, with 11 out of the last 14 months seeing declines. Hopper reports that domestic flights averaged $226 for a round trip for Labor Day, down 11% from the previous year and down 20% from 2019. European flights are also seeing a drop in prices, with an average cost of around $1,130—down from last year, but up from 2019.
Meanwhile, international airfares will also be higher for the rest of this year, Berg said.
“This holiday season, we are expecting the international airfare will remain higher than pre pandemic levels,” she said. “So for those travelers who typically do an international getaway, this over the holidays, we might recommend looking at domestic or more regional routes that are gonna be a bit less expensive.”
When hunting for the best deals, experts recommend flexibility in your travel dates and destinations. Avoid booking on traditionally busy days, and consider checking out nearby airports for potential savings.