The Cheapest and Most Expensive Days to Fly

Though many holiday headaches can't be avoided, a bit of planning ahead and strategic thinking can make the holidays a bit easier on your wallet.

Holiday travel means long lines at the airport or the interstate exit ramp, the constant threat of weather-related delays, and — oh yeah – much-needed quality time with family and friends.

Though many holiday headaches can’t be avoided, a bit of planning ahead and strategic thinking can make the holidays a bit easier on your wallet. The travel website Travelocity is offering a number of tips based on its vast sets of airfare, hotel, and rental care data. Here are some key takeaways:

The cheapest days to fly are Dec. 24 and Dec. 25. Those who depart on Christmas Eve for a 3-day round trip would save $50 by flying Christmas Eve instead of Dec. 23.

The most expensive day to fly is the Friday before Christmas. Traveling on Dec. 19 will put you back as much as $150 per ticket.

It pays to be flexible. “If travelers can be flexible with their plans, even by a day or two on either end of the holidays, they can stand to save 10%, 20%, or even up to 40% compared to the busiest travel days,” said Courtney Scott, senior editor at Travelocity.”

Book early — or in early December – to save the most. According to the website, prices start to climb after Nov. 12, so the site recommends booking before mid-November if at all possible. If not, it may pay to wait until early December. Travelocity said a brief low-price window seems to open up about 2 weeks before Christmas. Just don’t wait until the very last minute, or you’re likely to face another spike in prices.

International travelers have more leeway. According to the website, international fares tend to decline all the way up until the week before Christmas. Though flight availability may be decreased, travelers who are willing to be flexible can enjoy a bargain international holiday.

That said, prices this year aren’t much higher. According to Travelocity’s data, average domestic airfares are up just 2% from last year. Domestic hotel rates are actually down 8% this year, from an average of $200 per night last year to an average of $192 per night this year.