7 Ways to Get the Best Fall and Holiday Travel Deals

By Lynn Truong on 12 October 2009 (Updated 5 November 2012) 7 comments

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This article shares tips from the 8th episode of Dealista, our podcast that'll help you get more for less.

Fall is typically one of the best times to travel — it sits between the heaviest seasons (summer and the holidays), and unlike Spring, there are no college/teenagers taking advantage of Spring Break. This year especially, traveling will be easier on the wallet, especially if you're going away for the holidays. Bing Travel recently reported that fares are down 22% over last year for Thanksgiving travel, and 17% for Christmas.

If you're planning to get away in the next few months, here are some tips to get the best travel deals. (See also: 11 Ways to Save on Holiday Travel)

1. Tuesday Markdowns

Search for fares on Tuesday mornings. That's when most airlines mark down their prices.

2. Rest on Sundays

It's best to avoid traveling on Sundays, when prices are usually the higest. FareCompare shares that the cheapest day of the week to fly is Wednesday, followed by Tuesday and Saturday. Also, the first flight out is typically the cheapest time to fly.

3. Be Flexible

Check the option to search for "flexible dates" to compare the cost of traveling on less busy days. The more flexibility you have, the more likely you'll be able to score a deal. For example, Thanksgiving travel is heaviest on Wednesday and the following Sunday. If you depart on Tuesday instead and return on Saturday or Monday, you'll see significant savings. Of course, you'll see the most savings traveling on Thanksgiving day or the day after, but it might defeat the purpose for most people.

Additionally, based on a three-year trend of Christmas travel prices, Bing Travel found that prices dropped during the first two weeks of October. Check out FareCompare's handy calendar that shows the best dates to travel during November and December.

4. Factor Fees

When choosing airfare don’t forget to consider additional airline costs for all sorts of things, like baggage, seat selection, food, and drinks. FareCompare has a great chart of various fees by airline that's regularly updated.

5. Be on Alert

There are plenty of tools that will do most of the work for you. Sign up for newsletters and Twitter updates so you don't miss a deal. Yapta will alert you if a travel deal hits your designated price point. Follow FareCompare on Twitter and get real-time tweets with cheap deals from your desired airport.

6. Bite the Bullet

The hardest decision is whether to buy or wait. It sucks when you see the price drop just days after you've made your purchase. However, there are two great sites to help take the guessing out of the process.

Bing Travel's price predictor can tell you whether fares have been rising or dropping and tell you to Wait or Buy. They also have a rate indicator for hotels, which looks at past rates for a specific hotel and compares them the current rates, and indicates whether it's a Deal, Average, or Not a Deal.

Yapta (which stands for Your Amazing Personal Travel Assistant) will notify you if the price for a flight you purchased drops. Most consumers don't know (or don't bother) to take advantage of the price guarantees most airlines offer. Contact the airline to get a refund for the price difference, or have Yapta handle the process with the airline on your behalf for a fee.

7. Get Free Upgrades

Nora recommends a great way to get free car rental, hotel and airline upgrades: Just ask.

Finally, check out our list of 40 travel websites that can save you a fortune. Get discounts and the insider scoop with these great resources.

Dealista is a collaboration between Wise Bread and Quick and Dirty Tips, the producer of popular podcasts such as Grammar Girl, Money Girl, Winning Investor, and Mighty Mommy.

If you enjoyed these tips you can find more in our show's archive.

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Andrea Karim's picture

These are some really good tips. Unfortunately, I'm forced to stay pretty much at home for the next year or so, but next year, I will definitely be taking advantage of some of these tips and tricks so that I can take a vacation abroad.

Guest's picture
Guest

This is hands-down the most helpful article I have ever received from the WiseBread newsletter - there are great tips in there (I used to think that Tuesday was the cheapest day to fly!) and it's perfect timing for those searching for a holiday airline ticket. Wonderful - thanks again!

Guest's picture

Make your family come to you for once.

Guest's picture

Bing Travel's Fareologist, Joel Grus, has updated the forecast for 2009 holiday travel. He recommends if you’re thinking of flying somewhere for Thanksgiving, now’s the time to get shopping! Right now, on average, fares are almost 10% above where they were back in August when we first published our Holiday Travel forecast. For the latest from Joel, check out today's blog post:

http://www.bing.com/community/blogs/travel/archive/2009/10/14/holiday-fo...

Happy Travels,
Kristin, Bing Travel

Guest's picture
Linsey K.

I have nothing to add. Carry on everyone, carry on.

Guest's picture

I had great deal with my Disney Vacation. Saved a ton and loved it

Guest's picture

I find that "biting the bullet" is the hardest part of purchasing travel. It almost feels like gambling.

Great tips. Thank you for the article.

Melissa Tosetti
www.TheSavvyLife.com