As if the economy doesn't already have us depressed, new data from Hotwire predicts Thanksgiving airfares to be 6% higher, while Christmas-season travel will cost 10% more than last year. Plus, with Christmas on a Sunday, a LOT of people will be fighting for the same Friday to Monday travel dates.
So what can you do to keep holiday travel costs down? Start looking now. For Thanksgiving travel, prices start going up the first of November; in an article for CNN Money, FareCompare.com's Rick Seaney is quoted: "you can expect to add $5 to the price of each round-trip ticket for each day you procrastinate."
Even for Christmas travel, it's not too early to make your plans. With Christmas falling on a weekend, flights departing the Friday before Christmas and returning either Monday or Tuesday will be hard to come by. And adjusting your plans by just a day can make a huge difference.
For instance, we checked airfares from New York's JFK to Denver. For a Friday-to-Monday trip, the lowest fare of $593 is on Delta. But extending your trip by just one day -- Thursday to Monday -- results in a $100 drop in price ($493). It's a similar story for Chicago to Phoenix. A Friday-to-Monday holiday costs $428 on US Airways, but a Thursday-to-Monday trip costs almost $70 less ($362 when we checked on Oct. 24).
To get the most for your money this year: