Without a doubt, the best part about the holidays is spending quality time with family and friends. But if you don’t live near your loved ones, one of the worst parts about the holidays is traveling. Braving icy roads on long car rides and dealing with crowded airports can turn even the jolliest person into the Grinch. So this year, we’re taking as much stress out of holiday travel as we can, starting with learning how to score the best airfare deals.
We’ve all been there: You’re monitoring a specific flight home to see if the price decreases, only to watch it hike up $100 at the last minute. To avoid airfare blues, we spoke with travel agents Sunny Williams from L&B Travel in Los Angeles and Heather Cross of Brooklyn-based Vacations By Heather. They shared their best tips and hacks that will make buying airfare a breeze this holiday season and beyond.
1Use airfare search engines.
“Use websites like Kayak and Momondo that allow you to access ‘fare hacks,’” Williams advised. “These algorithms search databases for the cheapest one-way flights, and then you can buy two one-way tickets—often directly from the airline’s website—and save money.”
2Search for flights during off-peak hours.
“When everyone else is out on Friday and Saturday nights, fares are at their lowest,” Williams said. “This is the best time to search and buy.”
3Be flexible with your travel dates, if possible.
“If you have a fixed destination, check pricing a day or two in either direction, as that can make a huge difference,” Cross said.
4Specifically, book flights that leave on a Monday or a Tuesday.
“Choose flights leaving on Monday or Tuesday,” Williams said. “These days of the week have less travelers and tend to offer better fares.”
5Or, be flexible with your destination.
“If you have fixed dates, flexibility in your destination can be another way to save money,” Cross added. “Google Flights has an ‘Explore Destinations’ feature and you can put in your travel dates and see where you might be able to find a reasonably priced flight. A lot of my clients have explored St. Lucia and Antigua after we discovered great flight options for their travel dates to these lesser-known destinations.”
6Be willing to make a stop-over.
“If you can afford the time to have a stop-over, this will often save you in fares, and you can sometimes find a very accessible city and explore it while you wait,” Williams said. “Amsterdam is one of the best layover cities, as the airport is only 15 minutes from the heart of the city and you only need a few hours to take a stroll along its beautiful canals.”
7If you can hold a flight with zero obligation, do it.
“If you find something great, take advantage of no-obligation holds, if they’re offered,” Williams said. “This gives you the flexibility to search a bit more, knowing you have a good option to return to if nothing else materializes.”
8Book your flight with a travel agent.
“Calling your trusted travel agent is another way to save,” Cross said. “They can do all these things for you and they also might have access to bulk and/or charter fares for additional savings.”
Booking with a travel agent is especially helpful for premium economy, business, or first-class fares.
Now get out there and score the best airfare deals you can find.