Christmas is a time for being with our families, eating great food, watching festive films, listening to Christmas music and, of course, celebrating the birth of Jesus Christ.
For some, however, Christmas can be a painful time when spent away from loved ones. And for others who just itch to get away, it can be the worst time of the year from a financial perspective. For many, it’s the airfare cost that crushes their hopes and dreams.
While I can’t guarantee any Christmas miracles, here are at least 10 great tips to help you actually pull off cheap travel at Christmas.
1. Choosing When To Book (Be Strategic)
Most people say booking your airplane tickets WAY in advance will get you the cheapest tickets. Is that true? Only sometimes.
In reality, the airline industry is expecting you to think this. That’s why they’ll sometimes set their initial prices high because they’re expecting you to buy then. Or, they’re at least confident enough that if you don’t buy, someone else will.
Basically, they’re expecting you to be like one of the other thousands of people who feel like organizational rock stars by booking in Spring/Summer. While booking this early can definitely work at times (Skyscanner recommend booking Christmas flights between 20th August – 27th August), just be aware that you might be playing right into their marketing strategy.
So, if the price is just too high, don’t buy. Wait a few months. Pulling off cheap travel at Christmas sometimes requires patience.
It’s usually best to book throughout October and early November. This is when airline companies will start fussing when a certain flight isn’t getting filled up and so they may do a flash sale to fill seats. Often the flash sale will be quite low key though, so be attentive and watch pricing trends.
2. Don’t Book Tickets On Saturdays Or Sundays
Similar to point #1, they’re EXPECTING you to do this and so sometimes they’ll price accordingly.
Found a really cheap flight on a Monday afternoon? Good for you. But perhaps check it out again Tuesday morning…sometimes it’s even cheaper by then. Learn to give Tuesdays a chance.
3. Start With Google Flights, Go From There…
Google Flights has a great calendar in that it will show you the cost of flights for every day. That means you can really see which days would be best to depart and which days would be best to return. Google Flights makes booking returns SO MUCH easier!
Take notes. Perhaps Google Flights has shown you that arriving or returning on a certain day is cheaper than the day you originally planned.
With this new knowledge, try inputting these new dates into other airplane ticket search engines. Try Momondo first, then Skyscanner.
4. Be Flexible
If you can afford to, be flexible in the days you arrive or depart. Airlines don’t tailor their schedules towards you, for cheap travel at Christmas to work, sometimes you have to tailor your schedule around them just a little bit.
5. Be Open To Using Neighboring Airports
This is such a good tip for pulling off cheap travel at Christmas. Try inputting neighboring airports into your searches.
Sometimes great deals can be found this way and some websites even allow you to click an option that will mean it’ll automatically show nearby airports in your search results.
This tip allowed me to visit my girlfriend in France during Christmas so I could propose to her. So, you know…I was pretty pleased about that. (She said yes).
6. “Keep It Secret, Keep It Safe”
As Gandalf the Grey once said, “Keep it secret, keep it safe!” Why? Because airlines store cookies and so know how often you’re searching for a specific flight. Sometimes they’ll increase the price slightly to scare you into thinking it’s getting booked up quickly and to try and force you into purchasing ASAP.
Solution? Use Incognito mode. That way they can’t monitor your browsing behavior.
For Google Chrome / Safari: Press “Command” (“Control” if using a PC) and “Shift” and “N”.
For Firefox / Internet Explorer: Press “Command” (“Control” if using a PC) and “Shift” and “P”.
7. Consider Other Modes Of Travel
Could you get there by train? What about taking the coach or ferry? Got a car? Be like Vanessa Carlton and walk a 1,000 miles if you flippin’ need to. (I’m really sorry for getting this song in your head).
8. Choose Cheap Destinations
If you just want to get away, choose cheap destinations to travel to…It may feel a bit like a compromise but seriously some (read: most) of them are even better than the expensive ones.
9. Sign Up To Scott’s Cheap Flights Newsletter
So there’s this travel expert called Scott Keyes and if you sign up to his free newsletter he’ll send you regular emails with all the best travel deals happening right now. He once booked a world trip that spanned 13 countries…for free. Darn it.
10. Check One More Time…
Even if hope is almost all but gone and you think you’ve missed your opportunity, sometimes companies like Lastminute can throw you a lifeline. Check them out. Who knows? Maybe they have a few last-minute tickets that are going cheap?
Know of any more tips for cheap travel at Christmas? Please feel free to comment below!
Suggested next reading: 13 Budget Hacks For People Who Really Want To Visit Europe