As we Canadians bask in the warm October weather during Thanksgiving this weekend it’s hard to imagine that we are already starting into our Christmas season. Our American cousins, however, are still planning their Thanksgiving holiday in another month – and one of the most expensive travel weekends in the USA.
Thanksgiving falls late in November this year, November 26th with Black Friday on the 27th and Cyber Monday on Nov 20th.
With such a late holiday, the traditional “slower” vacation time between Thanksgiving and Christmas will be condensed making holiday travel even busier and more expensive.
However, there are still some great deals and discounts out there provided you are flexible in your dates and are willing to fly multiple airlines or add a stopover. Using a travel agent, we can do the research to help you score the best deal and the best part is you don’t pay a cent for the service.
The cheapest date to travel in the major US centres is going to be on Thursday the 26th or Friday the 27th. To get an idea of the best rates through multiple airlines, check out www.kayak.com which shows the best fares across multiple airlines so you can make the most informed choice. You can also look at how fares will vary by modifying your departure and arrival dates.
Here is an example of flights from New York (JFK) to Los Angeles (LAX) with a desired departure date of Friday Nov 27th and Return of Monday Nov 30th. You can see that if I left a few days earlier (the 25th) and returned on the 12th my total cost would be $543 vs the $730 of my desired dates.
www.kayak.com also allows you to set up fare alerts which you will tell you when specific flights on specific days go up or down so you can make an informed choice. I like to set up fare alerts as far in advance of my trips as possible so I get a good idea of the fares I will be paying. The site also tells you, based on trends, when the best time to buy is.
The one challenge with this site… it doesn’t have EVERY airline. So if you like to fly Southwest you should check their site individually to see how they compare. Again that is where using a Travel Agent really comes in handy.
Other discount booking sites such as www.cheapoair.com, www.hotwire.com, www.expedia.com and www.travelocity.com offer similar services.
Like airlines, hotels work utilize Revenue Optimization algorithms to price rooms according to supply and demand. This means travelling at Thanksgiving where there is a lot of demand and there is little supply drives prices up.
Here are my suggestions on getting the best price:
1. If you want to stay at a specific hotel you should book as soon as possible. Let your Travel Agent know your desired brand of hotel.
2. If you only care about the dates and general class of hotel and location the best way to save the most money is to have your agent use the resources they have to look at hundreds of booking companies. You can also try Hotwire or Priceline but you are never guaranteed a specific location or room type (i.e. if you want 2 queen beds you may be stuck with a double or 1 Queen)
3. Finally, bundling air and hotel will always save money – to see an example of the savings look at www.expedia.ca for the savings (sometimes $200-$500) when you package flights and hotels. Travel Agents can match these savings and will do the work for you.
If you would like more information about travel during this busy holiday season please send us a message through our Contact form, email firstname.lastname@example.org or call us at 1-888-390-1535.
Happy Thanksgiving from our family to yours!