For the best prices and the best chance of getting the flights and rooms you want, you’d best make your holiday travel plans before Halloween.
That advice comes from Orbitz.com, which is operated by Orbitz Worldwide (NYSE:OWW). Orbitz adds that 65 percent of Americans plan to travel over the six weeks between Thanksgiving to New Year's and two-thirds of them – about 43 percent of Americans – plan to take at least one flight during that period. Christmas is the most traveled, with 68 percent of people planning a trip during that period. I will be among them.
That additional demand will result in higher prices as well as lower inventory for all things travel-related, from airline seats to hotel rooms and rental cars.
"Get creative around booking holiday travel to beat the crowds and pay less,” Jeanenne Tornatore, Senior Editor at Orbitz.com, said in a news release. “Avoid flights the Wednesday before Thanksgiving; instead fly on Monday, Nov. 24 to arrive with your cheerful holiday spirit – and budget – intact."
Historically, more than half of Thanksgiving travelers book travel by Oct. 16, according to Orbitz. Procrastinators booking Thanksgiving travel after Nov. 18 will pay upwards of 5% more for airfare. Overall, the best deals will happen before Oct. 21, so travelers should book now, the company said.
More and more, the holiday travel season is also a vacation window. Nearly half of those traveling will opt for a vacation this year instead of heading over the river and through the woods to grandmother's house, the company said.
In addition to the advice about booking early, Orbitz published its Holiday Travel Insider Index which, based on Orbitz.com bookings, identified the most popular destinations as well as average flight and hotel prices for Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year's Eve.
Top ten destinations for Thanksgiving are Orlando, Cancun, Chicago, New York City, Los Angeles, Phoenix, Las Vegas, San Francisco, Boston and Dallas. Average hotel rates range from $355 per night in New York City to $99 a night in Vegas.
Many of those cities are also top ten destinations for Christmas. In order, those are Orlando; Cancun; Los Angeles; Miami; San Juan, Puerto Rico; Fort Lauderdale; New York City; Denver; Phoenix and San Francisco. Average hotel rates for the Christmas holiday range from $470 per night in New York City to $141 a night in Phoenix.
New Year’s Eve revelers will also find plenty of company in many of those same destinations. The top 10 cities for ringing in the new year are Cancun; Orlando; San Juan, Puerto Rico; Las Vegas; New York City; Fort Lauderdale; Los Angeles, Miami, Honolulu and Puerto Vallarta. The highest average hotel prices are in Cancun, at $410 per night, while the lowest is in Orlando at $145.
The average airfares to the Top 10 destinations over the holiday season represent a 3 percent overall increase from last year while hotel rates are also up 3 percent compared to the same period last year, according to Orbitz.
The Orbitz.com Holiday Travel survey found that only 11 percent of travelers anticipate spending less this holiday season – while about 30 percent plan to spend more. Other key highlights from the survey include the finding that 60 percent of travelers are willing to spend up to $2,500 this year on holiday travel while refusing to budge on shelling out more cash for incidentals like parking and baggage.
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